After trading for Evan Longoria on Wednesday, the San Francisco Giants still need to do a lot more.
For starters, the Giants still have glaring holes to fill in center and left field. Including Denard Span in the deal for Longoria should only increase the pressure on general manager Brian Sabean to find a stopgap solution in center until prospect Steven Duggar is ready.
First, San Francisco should prioritize defense in center. As a team, Giants’ outfielders finished dead last in Defensive Runs Saved (-45) and 26th in Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games (-3.3) last season. Span was the worst defensive center fielder last season (-27 DRS). Plus, the Giants are more in need of a defensive upgrade in center (-32 DRS) than in left (-5 DRS). The next worst defensive team in center was the Pittsburgh Pirates, but their -17 DRS pales in comparison.
The Giants could also prioritize defense in left, but adding power to their lineup is a must. Longoria will help a little in that department, but he hit 16 fewer home runs in 2016. In addition, the Giants hit the fewest home runs (128) and posted the lowest wRC+ (83) and ISO (.132) in 2017.
Sabean should also look to upgrade his bullpen and find a affordable mid-rotation starter.
Free Agency or Trades?
Even before sending top prospect Christian Arroyo to Tampa Bay, the Giants’ farm system was one of the worst in baseball. As a result, looking to make a trade for Andrew McCutchen, Jacoby Ellsbury, Billy Hamilton, Adam Duvall, Jackie Bradley Jr., or Christian Yelich would be a huge risk.
Lets say the Giants do trade for one of the above names and give up what little prospect talent they have left — outfielder and first baseman Chris Shaw, pitcher Tyler Beede and outfielder Heliot Ramos come to mind — for one year of McCutchen. If they loose 80-90 games again in 2018 and McCutchen hits the open market, the Giants would damage their long term future.
Ellusbury, Hamilton, Duvall and Bradley are not sure things. If Sabean does make a trade, it should be Yelich or nothing. The 26-year-old is under team control through 2022 and reportedly unhappy with the Marlins’ direction. Plus, the Marlins know the Giants system well. Remember, Giancarlo Stanton was almost traded to the Bay Area.
Free Agency is the best option. The Giants may not want to go over the luxury tax threshold for the fourth year in a row, but they were willing to pay top dollar for Stanton, despite supposedly being on a strict budget.
So, who should the Giants look at in free agency?
Center field: Jarrod Dyson
The 33-year-old Dyson would be an ideal short term defensive upgrade in center.
Dyson might be approaching the wrong-side of 30, but he still has the range and speed the Giants are looking for at an affordable price. Among all center fielders last season, Dyson tied for fourth in DRS (10) — the same amount as Bradley Jr. and only behind Byron Buxton, Kevin Kiermaier and Kevin Pillar — and finished fifth in UZR/150 (8.6).
Teams know what they will get offensively from Dyson. His 85 wRC+ in 2017 closely mirrors his career 86 wRC+, and the Giants will not need him to drive in runs. What he will do is immediately become the Giants’ best basestealer.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports predicted Dyson to sign a two-year, $15 million contract. Paying $7.5 million a year for someone of his value is a bargain the Giants should take advantage of.
Corner Outfield: Jay Bruce
The 30-year-old Bruce would fill two of the Giants’ holes. He is a proven power hitter that plays better defense than most realize.
Bruce has hit 30 or more home runs in five of the last seven seasons. He split time with the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians in 2017 and hit a career-high 36 baseballs out of the park. Bruce’s 118 wRC+ last season was his highest since 2014 and seven points higher compared to 2016.
He would slot perfectly into the middle of the Giants’ lineup behind Longoria. Bruce would add to a long list of left-handed Giant bats, but he will drive in a lot of runs and hit a lot of long balls.
If the Giants want to add another right-handed bat, they could target J.D. Martinez. But, there is reportedly mutual interest between the Giants and Bruce. Plus, the Giants should upgrade their bench and could add right-handed hitters that way.
Longoria also is right-handed and so is Buster Posey. The Giants could trade Hunter Pence, but he will make $18.5 million in 2018 before becoming an unrestricted free agent. It might be hard to move his contract. So, the Giants could keep the right-handed hitting Pence, who hit .260 with 13 home runs to help balance out their lineup.
Finally, the Giants could also upgrade the back end of their rotation. Free agents like Alex Cobb, Marco Estrada and Lance Lynn are great options. Cobb and Lynn would require the Giants to give up a draft pick because both rejected the qualifying offer.
The bottom line is the Giants can get financially creative and spend a good chunk of money at the same time. Before acquiring Longoria, they did not have to make major upgrades.
Now, Sabean and company have an obligation to.