Earlier this week, Bryan took a look at all the free agents the Giants won’t sign which happened to be all of them except for Yasiel Puig. I’m a little more optimistic that Farhan Zaidi will do more than that though. I don’t think he’s going to wrangle down Gerrit Cole or Anthony Rendon or anything. Even ignoring the fact that hitters are reluctant to come play in the worst dinger park in baseball or that players in general would rather not sign with a presently bad team, there will be lots of competition for these superstar talents even if that competition won’t include the Red Sox, Dodgers, Cubs, or Cardinals. Bryce Harper very well may have been a Giant last year, but the Phillies simply beat San Francisco’s offer.
Zaidi might not come away with a Cy Young winner or an MVP finalist, but he’ll come away with players that are close enough. He’ll find a knock-off Stephen Strasburg or Didi Gregorius out there, and there’s nothing wrong with going generic. Below are the players who are fundamentally the same thing, but noticeably not as good. The Dr. Skipper to Cole’s Dr. Pepper. The Cocoa Puffed Cereal to Rendon’s Cocoa Puffs. The Dauntless to Strasburg’s Monster Hunter World.
Instead of Gerrit Cole (or Strasburg or Wheeler) try Julio Teheran
Even if the Giants and Madison Bumgarner stay together, they’re going to need starting pitching help. No one in the carousel of pitchers this year showed that they definitely deserve a rotation spot in 2020. Sure, Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg or Zack Wheeler or Hyun-jin Ryu or Jake Odorizzi would all be great additions, but let’s lower expectations.
The Braves declined Julio Teheran’s club option for 2020, making him a free agent. A six-time Opening Day starter, Teheran hasn’t been an ace since 2016. He has, however, shown durability, and if the Jeff Samardzija signing proves anything, it’s that durable pitchers always remain durable.
Teheran’s peripherals weren’t great this year, and he’s losing velocity, but he’s one of the few sinker ballers succeeding with the pitch. He’s never been a ground ball pitcher despite the good sinker, but if the Giants can figure out a way to change that, they have the infield defense to back him up.
He can also spin the ball well. Though his fastball velocity ranks in the 10th percentile, his spin is up in the 70th. His curve is even better ranking in the 84th percentile. At first glance, he seems like a candidate to learn a cutter. If that doesn’t work, there’s enough there to tinker with and hope for a rebound.
Instead of Anthony Rendon try Todd Frazier
It’s hard to find a replacement for Anthony Rendon especially in this market. Of the other third basemen available, none are clear upgrades over Evan Longoria except for Josh Donaldson, and he’s in the same tier of coveted slugger that the Giants can’t access. Is there an appreciable difference between Todd Frazier and Evan Longoria? Longoria seems like a much nicer person, but that’s about it. There’s some extreme redundancy here, so this addition would firmly fall into the “You can never have too many good players” category. If he’s available for a one-year deal, why not sign him? Frazier could spell Longoria and Brandon Belt without giving up much on offense. He might even be an improvement.
Instead of Didi Gregorius try Eric Sogard
The Giants could use some depth up the middle. Brandon Crawford is starting to not look like an everyday player, and while Mauricio Dubón impressed in his Giants debut, it’s yet to be seen if he’ll be more Ozzie Albies or Jose Iglesias. Despite an injury-plagued and ineffective season, Gregorius is still the best middle infielder on the market. Since the Yankees decided not to extend him a qualifying offer, more teams will be competing for his services, and he’s probably out of the Giants’ budget for a middle infielder anyway.
Eric Sogard would fit right in though. Sogard is coming off his best season in which he hit a whopping 13 bombs and slashed .290/.353/.457. He even hit a home run off of Gerrit Cole in a playoff game. Sogard didn’t crack MLB Trade Rumor’s top 50, but the FanGraphs community figures he could be had for a one-year deal.
Sogard is primarily a second baseman, but he can play short in a pinch. He even spent a little bit of time in the outfield in 2019, and we know how much Farhan Zaidi likes his defensive versatility. He’s a perfect low-risk, medium reward signing. This article is supposed to a be a tongue-in-cheek poke at the Giants signing bad players instead of good players, but I am unironically into the idea of Sogard in a Giants uniform.
Instead of Marcell Ozuna try (fine) Yasiel Puig
Marcell Ozuna was himself the generic brand Christian Yelich when the Marlins had their latest clearance sale. The Giants weren’t able to net him (or Stanton or Yelich) in a trade back in the Bobby Evans era, but MLB Trade Rumors predicts that he’ll go to San Francisco of his own volition. Ozuna was extended a qualifying offer so if the Giants were to sign him, they would lose a draft pick. That’s a steep price for a team with no guarantee to contend, especially for a player whose biggest selling point is that Busch Stadium was suppressing his numbers and he’ll thrive elsewhere. (Offer does not apply to Oracle Park).
Instead, consider Yasiel Puig who might be available for a one-year deal. Even in a down year, Puig produced like a league-average hitter, and he started to look more like himself after going to Cleveland. Puig might not be the defender that Ozuna is, but he’s not a clankmitt and he’ll throw out nincompoops who try to run on him.
The thought of Puig in a Giants uniform is going to rankle many a Giants fan, but here’s the thing: Puig is a tremendously fun baseball personality who was only annoying because he was being tremendously fun for the Dodgers. His bat flipping/licking “antics” will be a lot more endearing in a Giants uniform. If you’re not sold, just imagine him hitting a bases clearing triple at Dodger Stadium and in the course of his celebration, ripping away his uniform to reveal a skin-tight jumpsuit polka-dotted with Puig faces.