The San Francisco Giants are out of the running for James Shields. According Jim Bowden of ESPN via Twitter, the Giants are out on Shields:
Giants are out on Shields, never in on Scherzer and still trying to work a deal on Zobrist according to sources
— Jim Bowden (@JimBowden_ESPN) January 3, 2015
This comes almost two weeks after Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News reported that the Giants were not in on Max Scherzer either—and apparently never planned to be:
Sabean said Giants have not talked to Scherzer, don’t plan to talk to him.
— Alex Pavlovic (@AlexPavlovic) December 20, 2014
Combined the previous two with the Giants inability to sign Jon Lester, and it’s clear to see the reigning champs ‘struck out’ in the free agent market for elite starting pitching. However, while the Giants rotation certainly would not be unwelcoming to a top of the line pitcher, they should still fair well regardless. Their rotation is also aided next season by the return of a healthly Matt Cain, which would be nothing but an absolute boon if he can return to his pre-2013 form. Not to mention the recently re-signed Jake Peavy, Tim Hudson—who is retiring after this season—and, oh yeah, the reigning World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner.
However, the Giants now appear set to turn their full attention to another area of the team that is in need—left field. According to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Giants “limited financial flexibility” had resulted in the Giants needing to choose between Shields or an upgrade in left field:
With McGehee/Peavy/Romo, #sfgiants have “limited financial flexibility,” said Sabean, to decide whether to be all in on Shields, LF upgrade.
— John Shea (@JohnSheaHey) December 20, 2014
Now that it appears that Shields is no longer an option, the Giants are looking to acquire Ben Zobrist from the re-tooling Tampa Bay Rays to replace the now-departed Michael Morse. First reported by Robert Murray of MLB Daily Rumors, the aforementioned Zobrist has come up in talks between the two teams:
— Robert Murray (@RobertMurrayDR) January 2, 2015
As a result, the Giants may turn their remaining flexibility toward hitting as opposed to another solid starting pitcher. Although the Giants are looking to Zobrist as a solution for their outfield, the veteran has played every defensive position—with the exception of pitcher and catcher—in his career, and at an above average level, too.
While the ultra-utility man is a free agent following the 2015 season, the Giants might see this as a dual advantage. The first being that it he might possibly be the cheapest option prospect-wise among any top-tier outfielders they are looking at that might under club-control past the 2015 season by contract or MLB service. The second advantage they might have is that if they were to acquire him before Opening Day they can, of course, offer him a qualifying offer next offseason. In turn, if the Giants were to give up a higher upside prospect currently they would have the opportunity to get one back, should they fail to re-sign Zobrist next offseason. The disclaimer of course being that no two prospects are the same, and it’s difficult to compare how a possible 2016 first-round draft pick would stack up against a prospect already in the Giants minor league system.
All Zobrist possibilities aside, with the Giants bowing out of the Shields hunt it appears they have weighed their options and decided that it is best for them to improve their outfield, as opposed to improving their starting rotation.