From Judge to Verlander, which free agents will Giants pursue?

November 9th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Maria Guardado’s Giants Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

With the annual General Managers Meetings underway in Las Vegas, the Giants have entered full roster-building mode, initiating conversations that they hope will lay the groundwork for key free-agent deals this offseason.

President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has said everything is on the table for the Giants, who are in need of some sizzle after their disappointing 81-81 finish in 2022. They’ll be able to sign any free agent as soon as MLB’s quiet period ends on Thursday at 2 p.m. PT.

Whom might the Giants pursue? Here’s a look at five potential options.

It’ll be tough to outbid the Yankees, but if Judge wants to leave New York, the Giants should have the resources to lure him to the Bay Area and make him the next face of their franchise. After blasting an American League-record 62 home runs this year, Judge would give the Giants a true superstar who could help pack the stands at Oracle Park, which drew the lowest full-season attendance of its 23-year history in 2022.

It should be noted that Judge is a Central Valley native who idolized Rich Aurilia as a kid, so he might relish the chance to come home and play for the team he grew up rooting for.

The Giants have repeatedly said they need to get younger and more athletic this offseason. Turner, who is known for his blazing speed and smooth slides, would certainly help achieve that aim. One complicating factor is that the Giants already have a four-time Gold Glove winner at shortstop in Brandon Crawford, who is signed through 2023.

Still, Turner, 29, has played second base and center field in the past, so he might be willing to move around to accommodate Crawford if needed. This year’s class of free-agent shortstops is loaded, so , or  could also be fits for the Giants, who are expected to target up-the-middle position players who can help shore up the club’s porous defense.

The Giants have a massive hole in their rotation now that left-hander has opted out, so they’ll likely be on the hunt for another co-ace to pair with this winter. If they can’t retain Rodón, perhaps they’ll take a swing at deGrom, who was limited to only 11 starts in 2022 but still flashed the elite stuff that made him a two-time National League Cy Young Award winner for the Mets.

deGrom, 34, will come with durability concerns, but the Giants have done a good job of keeping their starters relatively healthy in recent years.

The free-agent outfield class isn’t particularly deep behind Judge, but the 29-year-old Nimmo would also check a lot of boxes for the Giants. A speedy left-handed hitter, Nimmo is an on-base machine who could slide into the leadoff spot and offer a plus glove in center field. With Nimmo in the fold, the Giants would have the flexibility to move and  to corner outfield positions, upgrading the defense across the board.

Assuming he’s past the heartbreak of the Tigers’ loss to the Giants in the 2012 World Series, Verlander could be an intriguing option for San Francisco’s rotation if he opts out of his $25 million 2023 player option with the Astros.

After returning from Tommy John surgery, Verlander delivered the most dominant season of his 17-year career, which will likely culminate in his third AL Cy Young Award on Nov. 16. At 39, he should be open to a short-term deal, the Giants’ preferred contract structure for free-agent pitchers.