Since becoming world champions for the second time in three years, the San Francisco Giants have been relatively quiet this offseason. They re-signed Jeremy Affeldt to a three-year deal, Hunter Pence went to Disneyland, and Brian Wilson still has his beard.
In terms of big-name free agents, the Giants have remained off the radar for the most part. And after a decisive world series sweep against the mighty Detroit Tigers, why mess with a good thing?
There are still some loose ends to tie up and holes to fill. The American League champion Tigers signing coveted free agent Torii Hunter vastly improves their lineup both offensively and defensively.
The parade is over, the champagne bottle empty. Now, it's time to focus on 2013 and work on improving an already solid lineup.
These are three key offseason moves the Giants should make in order to defend their title.
1. Re-sign center fielder Angel Pagan
With lack of depth in the outfield, the Giants would be foolish to not lock up the solid center fielder. Pagan is the first legitimate leadoff hitter the Giants have had in years: Everyone can agree Pagan is far more competent in the leadoff hole than Aaron Rowand was back in 2009.
But that's an experiment we all want to forget.
Pagan was rock solid statistically last year, is popular in the clubhouse and WANTS to return to San Francisco. My bet is on Brian Sabean reaching a deal with the center fielder, despite him not offering Pagan a qualifying offer.
Other teams interested in Pagan include the Braves, Phillies and Nationals, but Pagan is perfectly suited to play at AT&T Park. In 2012, Pagan used the awkward outfield dimensions and his speed to peg 15 triples.
Of all available outfielders, Pagan is the Giants' best option. A deal needs to be made before another contender steals him away.
2. Pick up another outfielder
Priority No. 1 may be to re-sign center fielder Angel Pagan, but the Giants need to do more than merely restore their 2012 outfield. The Giants wisely passed on extending an offer to Melky Cabrera, the only downside being a lack of consistency at the left field position.
The outfielders available this season are star-studded to say the least. Josh Hamilton, B.J. Upton, Shane Victorino, Michael Bourn and possibly Justin Upton (he’s not a free agent but is the subject of trade rumors) lead the pack in terms of performance and potential.
The Giants have remained off the list of contending teams for these premier free agents. B.J. Upton doesn't appear to be an ideal fit: He's strikeout-prone and depends on his power to up his value. At AT&T Park, power amounts for little. Consistency and the ability to manufacture runs is the name of the game.
Shane Victorino is an intriguing option. He's played with Hunter Pence in Philadelphia, and the two have a positive rapport.
Josh Hamilton is a long shot and an unlikely addition. San Francisco GM Brian Sabean does not have a history of long-term, extremely expensive contracts... barring Barry Zito, and look how that deal turned out.
Bourn is another option, but most signs suggest his unwillingness to leave Atlanta.
Another New York Yankee of note is Ichiro Suzuki, especially if the Giants are somehow unable to re-sign Angel Pagan. However, like Bourn, Suzuki has expressed an interest to re-sign with his former team.
Either way, there are a lot of options and interesting "what if" possibilities in scouring the free-agent market for outfielders. The Giants need to start throwing their hat into the ring in order to make a deal happen.
3. Make a two-year deal with Marco Scutaro
While the Giants could use depth in the outfield, they need to retain their starting second baseman.
Scutaro's arrival turned the position into a strength, which was once a former weakness all season for San Francisco. With the Giants, Scutaro batted .362 with a .385 on-base percentage.
Scutaro's consistency at the plate extends beyond batting average. He is a true contact hitter, leading all of MLB with a 92.5 percent contact rate.
Really, the only notch against Scutaro is his age. But in my opinion, Scutaro is 37 years young, a glass-half-full perspective. Besides, the Giants only need to extend a two-year kind of deal, and the second baseman is only getting better with age.
His 61-game stretch with the Giants was no fluke. Scutaro has been remarkably consistent his entire career, batting .276 with only 533 strikeouts in 4,388 total at-bats. The Giants are notorious free-swingers, and Scutaro has been a welcome change.
His veteran status is actually an advantage, both in the batter's box and in the middle infield. No doubt his experience has helped youngster Brandon Crawford become a star at shortstop.
The one-two punch of Pagan and Scutaro allowed Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey more RBI opportunities. These are two free agents San Francisco cannot afford to lose.
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