If you’ve been holding out hope that the Giants will bring Jackie Bradley Jr. in as their center fielder, you might want to instead spend some time on FanGraphs looking for outfielders with minor league options remaining.
On a Zoom call to discuss the addition of left-handed-hitting infielder Tommy La Stella, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said the Giants still could add a left-handed option in their outfield, but their preference is not the open market.
“My guess is we may, rather than going the free agency route, target somebody in a trade who has options who could maybe compete with some of our younger outfielders, guys like Jaylin (Davis) and Steven Duggar, for some of the at-bats and maybe that last spot on the roster,” Zaidi said. “It’s still a possibility (to sign a free agent) but it may make more sense to bring in a younger guy to compete than to commit to another veteran at that spot right now.”
The Giants said from the beginning of the offseason that they needed another left-handed bat, and La Stella fills a large part of that hole. But they still could use outfield depth, and in particular someone who can play center field and spell Mauricio Dubon against tough right-handed starters. The Giants were active in that market, chasing several who signed elsewhere, including former Dodger and Bay Area native Joc Pederson, but Bradley Jr. is really the only good option remaining and he reportedly is seeking a semi-long-term deal.
The Giants also are running up against another issue as they approach a season played with 26 players, not the expanded rosters of 2020. They plan to have 13 position players and just about all of those spots are accounted for, and by players who cannot be sent to Triple-A if the staff needs flexibility for a day or two.
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The infield is set with six veterans and the outfield is pretty close to locked in, as well. Mike Yastrzemski and Alex Dickerson are cornerstones and Darin Ruf does not have a minor league option remaining. Austin Slater and Dubon do, but both currently are big parts of the puzzle.
The Giants are looking for another player who can swing back and forth between the big leagues and Sacramento depending on the team’s needs or health, which is part of why the corresponding move Thursday included Luis Alexander Basabe. The 24-year-old saw big league action last September and the Giants anticipated him being used again this season, but Basabe is out of options and wasn’t going to make the Opening Day roster, so he was the one designated for assignment when the front office needed a 40-man spot for La Stella.