According to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports, the San Francisco Giants are interested in acquiring Cleveland Indians closer Chris Perez.
While adding additional help in the late innings makes some sense, the cost of acquiring a proven closer is likely to be very expensive in terms of the prospects required to swing such a deal. Instead of focusing their limited prospect resources on acquiring pitching help, the Giants should focus on trying to bolster their offense.
They enter play on Monday night 23rd in baseball in runs scored, 22nd in OPS, 23rd in slugging, 29th in home runs, 12th in batting average, 15th in on-base percentage and 22nd in walks. Meanwhile, their 3.47 team ERA ranks fifth in the league.
The defense has turned a National League leading 72.5 percent of balls put in play into outs, suggesting that the glovework isn't the problem, either.
The major league average OPS is currently .726. The Giants only have four hitters above that average: Melky Cabrera (.933 OPS), Buster Posey (.872), Pablo Sandoval (.834) and fourth outfielder Nate Schierholtz (.755).
Angel Pagan (.725), Brandon Belt (.716) and Gregor Blanco (.712) have all been mired in lengthy slumps, which has moved each of them below league average in terms of OPS for the season.
Ryan Theriot (.637) has been very good over the last two months after recovering from a slow start that was plagued by an elbow injury. Theriot has stabilized second base offensively and defensively, but he doesn't even have warning track power at this late stage of his career. He has only 11 extra base hits, no homeruns and a paltry .321 slugging percentage.
The shortstop platoon of Brandon Crawford (.637) and Joaquin Arias (.632) is excellent in the field, but lacks punch at the plate. Bochy's decision to platoon them has proven wise in July, however, as both players have had their best month of the season since the platoon began.
The bench could also use an upgrade on Manny Burriss (.498) and Justin Christian (6-for-30), though Hector Sanchez's return from the disabled list will certainly help in that regard.
According to Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area, the Giants have targeted first base as a position they would like to upgrade. First base is a good place to target, given that Theriot has stabilized second base, Bochy's platoon has temporarily fixed shortstop and Belt is just 2-for-27 since the All-Star Break.
While I have not heard the Giants linked to any specific first basemen and this is pure speculation on my part, one trading partner that would make a lot of sense is the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Jays have a recent history of taking on players in need of a change of scenery, and then turning their careers around. The list includes Brett Lawrie, Colby Rasmus, Jose Bautista, Brandon Morrow, Yunel Escobar and Edwin Encarnacion. Escobar and Encarnacion would be interesting fits for the Giants if the Jays were inclined to move them, while Belt would be the latest makeover project in Canada.
The Jays recently gave Encarnacion, who has 26 home runs and a .977 OPS, a three-year contract extension. However, that extension does not prohibit the Jays from turning around and dealing him. Escobar is an outstanding defensive shortstop, but he is currently having the worst offensive season of his career with a .643 OPS.
If I was GM for a day in San Francisco, rather than try to bolster the pitching staff, I would gauge Toronto's interest in a Belt and Crawford for Encarnacion and Escobar swap.
At the end of the day, the Giants have enough pitching to win the west. However, with only three hitters comfortably above average, the offense is clearly in need of a boost.
The cost of acquiring offensive help is likely to be expensive, but the Giants window for contention is now. As the Philadelphia Phillies are cruelly learning this season, that window slams shut fast and without warning. To fend off the Dodgers, the Giants should focus their efforts on improving their mediocre offense.
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