Who might be out there?

Posted By on March 6, 2009 5:00 am

Reader Ryan wondered…

Jeff, in response to (the Giants) not obtaining any sort of hitting threat they have indicated they will try to trade for a hitter mid season from a non-contending teams looking to shed payroll. What do you think about posting something that evaluates who these potential hitters may be? There does not seem to be a long list of good hitters from teams that are not likely to contend.

OK, let’s do that. I have combed the rosters and came up with a few possibilities that make sense to me. Before you look at this, remember that the Giants premise here is that they have money to pay salaries that other teams don’t, so in most of these cases they would probably be overpaying. But if you win, no one cares what it costs, right?

Non-rentals (signed beyond ’09):

  • Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals. We know the Nats aren’t going anywhere. Yes, Zimmerman is sort of their franchise player, but he’s got two more years of arbitration to go, so he’s going to start getting expensive. He’ll make $3.325 million this year, and probably around $5 mil next year and $7-8 mil in ’11, if he’s still going year-to-year. The Nats need a lot of help, so perhaps they’d part with him for a few prospects. (While we’re on the Nationals, they also have Adam Dunn for two years and $20 million. The Giants didn’t want him because he’s a terrible outfielder, but he’s going to play first in Washington, so maybe between now and July he’ll look like a reasonable first baseman.)
  • Magglio Ordonez, Tigers. If the Tigers go in the tank again, as they did last year, I can certainly see them wanting to unload this guy. He is signed through this year, with team options for $15 million in 2010 and 2011. That’s a lot of coin. The Giants would probably be overpaying if they got him and picked up those options, but that’s sort of their deal anyway. Ordonez, who just turned 35, can still hit. He’s also right-handed, which is nice at AT&T Park.
  • Jose Guillen, Royals: Not a huge upside here. He’s a 20-25 homer guy who doesn’t walk. In fact, he may be another Aaron Rowand. He’ll make $12 million this year and next. I wouldn’t recommend Guillen, but he’ll certainly be available.
  • Prince Fielder, Brewers: Nothwithstanding their playoff appearance last year, the Brewers are facing some serious issues with the pitching, so it’s no stretch to think they could be out of it. Fielder is signed for $6.5 million in ’09, $10.5M in ’10 and then he’s got another arbitration-eligible year in 2011.
  • Lance Berkman, Astros: I love this guy. He just hits. He’s a switch hitter and he can play outfield and first. If the Astros really tank, perhaps they’d move him. He’s signed through ’10 ($14.5M this year and next) with an option for $15M in 2011. He’s got a full no-trade clause, though, so I hope he likes San Francisco.
  • Carlos Lee, Astros: Hey, the Giants tried to get him last time, and he actually turned down more money. So they’d get him for a discount now! Lee is signed for $18.5 million each of the next three years. That’s a lot of dough, so you can see why the Astros might want to dump him if it doesn’t look like they are going anywhere.
  • Adrian Gonzalez, Padres: Now I’m just fishing. Hey, if the Padres would trade Jake Peavy, they’d trade anyone. Gonzalez is a great first baseman and he’s got a lot of power. He’s signed for $4.75M in ’10 and has a team option for $5.5 million (with no buyout!) in 2011. That’s one of the most team-friendly contracts you’re going to find. Bernie Madoff must have been Gonzalez’s agent, because he got screwed. Anyway, I can’t see the Padres trading him, but hey, this is a blog, so we are supposed to suspend reality.
  • Scott Rolen, Blue Jays: His career has fallen off the cliff, but if he has a good first half, the Blue Jays might think it’s the perfect time to unload him. He’s got $11M coming to him in ’09 and ’10. (Less than Aaron Rowand is making.)

Rentals (free agents at end of ’09, if the Giants are really in serious contention)

  • Matt Holliday, A’s: He’s obviously going to be at the top of the list for every team that needs a big bat and doesn’t mind borrowing one for two months. The only reason he wouldn’t be available is if the A’s do something crazy like contend.
  • Adrian Beltre, Mariners: He’d certainly fit for the Giants in a lot of ways. He’s a right-handed hitter with some power (he did hit 25 homers last year at Safeco) and he plays third base, which is the ideal spot for the Giants to find a big bat. They could get over his contract ($12 million this year) if they only had to play for two months of it.
  • Miguel Tejada, Astros: He could play third or short, if the Giants believe he’s better than Renteria. Tejada is making $13 million this year.

Well, that’s it. I’m sure I could come up with more if I kept going, but I think that’s a pretty decent list for debate. Some of these guys (Zimmerman, Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez) would cost a high price in talent, but others (Ordonez, Beltre, Guillen) could probably be had for any team that would take the contract.


8 Responses to “Who might be out there?”

  1. Rob L says:

    Thanks for reviewing this, Jeff! It looks like there is a lot of potential from the Astros. They do not appear to be an especially financially strong team (small TV market). I could definitely see them selling off players in this down economy.

  2. Doctor Beeper says:

    Jeff – why do you feel that the Giants need another RH bat? Don’t you think they already have enough righties in their lineup? Other thank King Sized Panda (Sandoval), Winn & Ishikawa, they’re all right-handed. That is unless Velez somehow earns the 2b job.

  3. Jeff Fletcher says:

    I don’t feel they need another RH, but I think RHs are naturally going to be more productive at AT&T. If you bring in a lefty, you’re not going to get what you pay for because his numbers will go down maybe 10-15 percent.

  4. DProfessor says:

    Doctor Beeper–The dimensions of AT&T Park are murder on Lefties, but slightly fair to Righties.

    Beltre, who plays in a pitchers’ park, hit 25 HR’s, which would translate well into AT&T. Although A. Gonzalez is a Lefty, he also has good power numbers in one of the best pitchers’ park in the majors.

    None of our current right-handed hitters is a consistently 25-plus HR guy.

  5. Roy says:

    Carlos Lee or Magglio Ordonez….make it happen Sabes!

  6. Anonymous says:

    I am curious why you don’t think Uggla should be on that possible list? He is making a bit over $5M on a team that does not seem willing have a pay roll over $40M and they drew less then 18k fans a game. I am not saying it’s a given he is out of there but poor home attendance, if the over league attendance drops I think The Fish would be shopping him rather heavily.

  7. Dave says:

    Jeff, thanks for the list of potential bats for the team. Most of these names could help right now. Wouldn’t it make more sense to try and acquire somebody now and make a statement to the fans and players that management wants to contend seriously, instead of burning out your pitching staff the first half of the season, and adding someone as an afterthought? They are going to war with only half the team armed.

  8. Jeff Fletcher says:

    Anonymous, Uggla could be on the list, too. For some reason I forgot to look at the Marlins roster.

    Dave, some of these guys, like Fielder, Ordonez and the Astros players, won’t be traded because their teams feel like they still have a chance. These are deals that can only work if their teams are out of it.

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