By Chandler Guadagnin
If a 64 and 98 record is any indication, the San Francisco Giants must drastically improve if they hope of competing in 2018.
A few things must happen for such a change to occur. One, the bullpen has to be better; and two, outfield offensive production must increase.
Before going nuclear on the bullpen, one must remember that before the season even began, the Giants lost key relief pieces, such as Will Smith to injury. San Francisco’s high-end closer, Mark Melancon, also fell prey to the injury bug-missing most of the year. This season San Francisco’s pen ran to the tune of a 3.91 ERA. If that weren’t enough, they seemed to give up the runs at crucial junctures of the game. If the Giants get everyone back healthy, look for San Francisco’s bullpen to not only have better outings, but be a strong suit of this team moving forward.
The outfield is a whole other animal. Exempting Jarrett Parker and Michael Morse, the Giants kept their starting outfield healthy for the entirety of the season, and yet mainstays like Denard Span and Hunter Pence could not produce the needed output of their positions. Giants outfielders hit for a combined triple slash of .250/.308/.373 . According to MLB.com, if the Giants outfield was its own team, they would rank-in all of Major League Baseball-19th in batting average, 29th in on-base-percentage, and last in slugging.
Thankfully, there are plenty of outfielders on the open market this offseason that would upgrade San Francisco’s outfield. Here are my two best offseason options for the Giants, when it comes to upgrading the outfield.
1. The Giants Reel in a Marlins Outfielder
The Miami Marlins have one of the outfields with the biggest upside. Outfielders that the Giants should target include Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich. It has been reported that San Francisco was linked to Miami’s mashing outfielder Giancarlo Stanton. However, the Giants would have to back up the truck for such a swap. They would have to create a trade package that would send names such as Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, or Brandon Crawford to the Sunshine State. Therefore, it would do more damage than good for the Giants’ playoff hopes to trade for Stanton. In contrast, Ozuna and Yelich would be much more conservative options.
Last season, at the age of 26, Marcell Ozuna posted a triple slash of .312/.376/.548 to go along with 191 hits and 37 home runs in 159 games. In 2017-in his age 25 season- Christian Yelich, recorded a .282/.369/.432 slash line with 170 hits and 18 home runs in 156 games.
2. The Giants Wade into the Waters of Free Agency
Notable 2017 outfield free agents include Jay Bruce, J.D. Martinez and Lorenzo Cain. Each of these players, at one time in their careers have shown that they can excel on the big stage.
In the 2017 ALDS with Cleveland, Bruce played in all 5 games, going 5 for 18 with a double and two homers. In the regular season with the Mets and Indians, Jay Bruce hit to the tune of a .254 average with 67 extra base hits and 101 RBIs in 146 games. By the official end of the 2017 season, Bruce will have played out a 7-year/$63 million contract. Bruce will be 30 at the beginning of the 2018 regular season.
After being acquired from the Detroit Tigers at the deadline, J.D. Martinez helped to carry the Arizona Diamondbacks to the postseason. In 7 games of postseason experience, Martinez has batted .259 with 3 home runs and 6 RBIs. In 119 games this year, Martinez boasts a .303 average with 45 long balls and 104 RBIs. The end of the 2017 season, will mark the end of Martinez’s 2-year/$18.5 million pact. Martinez will be 30 to start 2018.
The Giants know about Lorenzo Cain’s production in the postseason first hand. In 31 playoff games and a World Series Championship, Cain has slashed .295/.376/.377 to go along with 8 extra-baggers and 9 RBis, This year with Kansas City, he hit an even .300, with 15 taters and 26 stolen bases. His 2-year/17.5 million contract will expire at the end of the World Series. Cain will be the eldest of the three to enter the 2018 season at the age of 31.
Of course, there are other free agents and more options for the Giants’ front office to explore. Only time will tell if the Giants were successful this winter.
The Giants will open the regular season, on March 29th, on the road against the Dodgers.
Statistics courtesy of mlb.com and baseball-reference.com