Earlier today, Scott Boras invoked the Giants once again in a quest to get his client a better contract — this time, it was on behalf of Carlos Gonzalez, or CarGo as he’s known in the state of Colorado, and while “CarGo” is 33 years old and still provides a little bit of pop, he’s hardly the player he once was, is left-handed (bad for Oracle Park), and would cost more than a non-guaranteed minor league deal with (probably) a chance to make a couple million if he makes the big league club.
And yet, the dudes on the beat just heard from Zaidi and he still wants to acquire an outfielder, dammit. He just doesn’t want Carlos Gonzales. Or any free agent for that matter. Here, let him explain:
Crowley preempted that video tweet with a just as interesting note:
The #SFGiants could trade from their bullpen to acquire an outfielder but Zaidi said he believes the Giants need to have one of the best bullpens in baseball to have a chance to compete.— Kerry Crowley (@KO_Crowley) March 8, 2019
So, here are the parameters:
- not currently a free agent
- can be acquired without trading away a bullpen arm
That’s a pretty tall order. Of course, it helps that Farhan Zaidi isn’t out there talking about how the Giants would like to acquire an All-Star outfielder just... an outfielder. I’ll guess a player in the 1-2 win range but maybe just young enough to surprise a little. As Crowley notes: “Said no decisions of a Harper magnitude are coming up.” It’s a lot easier to just sign a big ticket free agent than negotiate with modern front office execs.
In order for the Giants to acquire a player like the one it sounds like they want, he’ll have to be somewhat expendable to his team. Maybe he’d be their fourth outfielder, or maybe they have another player who could fill the 3rd/4th outfielder role but might be blocked. And then that same team would be fine with not trying to poach Tony Watson, Sam Dyson, or Will Smith; although, it should be noted that it doesn’t sound like a hard rule — maybe Zaidi would move Will Smith in the “right” deal.
For now, though, let’s consider what his present optimal deal might look like. Who could the Giants offer in trade for essentially a 2-win outfielder? Well, actually, first, let’s look at all of the right-handed 1.5 to 2-win outfielders from last year (with a minimum of 300 PA):
That’s definitely a list of baseball player names. It also shows why the Giants have been connected at times this offseason to Jose Martinez and Kevin Pillar. You can go right down that list and narrow it down a little further:
Ian Happ is just 24 years old and the Cubs need cheap talent that performs league average or more; Hunter Renfroe is also a pre-arb player and the Padres would definitely ask for more than whatever the Giants offer for that very reason; same goes for Chad Pinder. Matt Kemp will make $15.75 million (after the Dodgers and Padres chip in a combined $6 million) in the final year of his deal and after a bounce back first half, he was terrible in the second half; Yasiel Puig is enjoyed by everybody outside of the San Francisco market and the Reds have seemed to warm to him following the trade. That leaves this final four:
They don’t have one thing in common. Canha, Martinez, and Pillar are 30+ years old, but Myers is 28. Myers, Canha, and Martinez are poor defenders, Pillar is above average. Myers, Canha, and Martinez are .750-.780 OPS guys, Pillar’s around .700.
Including this year, Myers has $74 million remaining on his deal. Yes, the Padres would love to move that contract even after signing Manny Machado, because they have enough interesting prospects who could provide similar production for far less cost, but it’s unlikely the Giants would absorb that entire deal just to avoid paying a higher personnel cost. Still, Myers’ deal only runs through his age-31 season (there’s a $1 million buyout for age-32). And yet, I go back to the total value of the contract — that’s a “Harper magnitude” deal, so it’s probably not going to happen.
The Blue Jays are rebuilding, so they don’t need expensive bullpenners, but they might want cheaper guys like Reyes Moronta or Ray Black. Pillar is making over $5 million this season, a number the Giants could easily absorb, but it’s unclear what the Blue Jays would want in return.
Mark Canha becomes arbitration eligible next season, which is basically a death sentence for an A’s player. I think this is the strongest possibility. The fact that it’d be a deal between the Giants and A’s makes it even more likely — it seems like Farhan Zaidi would love a good troll transaction. The A’s don’t really need to add to their bullpen — they certainly could, of course, but they seem like they mostly need to add pitchers who can go multiple innings. It’s doubtful Chris Stratton would be enough — maybe Andrew Suarez or Dereck Rodriguez could be in play here — whoever gets the best scouting report from Nick Hundley.
The Cardinals probably want a lot for Jose Martinez and there are possibly other suitors who could drive up the price. Then again, Martinez is sorta chumming up the depth chart and doesn’t bring a lot to the table beyond a hit tool — something the Giants need a lot more than the Cardinals do at this point — and St. Louis’ rotation could be bolstered by an add. Is Farhan Zaidi trying to get to the end of Spring Training with a healthy Jeff Samardzija to get this one player?