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Giants could go trade route at Winter Meetings

Thin free agent market has GM Sabean considering shift in offseason approach

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- An apparent shift in general manager Brian Sabean's outlook has created the potential for the Giants to experience one of their most intriguing Winter Meetings in years.

Typically, Sabean has leaned toward free agency as his preferred offseason method of player acquisition because, as he has said, "It's cleaner." No prospects or established players must be reluctantly relinquished.

But the perceived lack of quality in the free-agent market has prompted the Giants to take a more serious look at their trade options in their quest to obtain a left fielder -- their biggest remaining need. Sabean has admitted that exploring trades will be a "challenging" process for the Giants, one that will force them to be more "creative."

Said Sabean, "It seems in some cases -- I'm speaking in general -- that clubs perhaps aren't as sure of the free-agent market, aren't as satisfied with the depth or the quality or think that it's an easier route, trade-wise. They can get certainty or value back doing a trade versus a free-agent signing."

At last year's Winter Meetings, the Giants concentrated on retaining their own free agents, re-signing center fielder Angel Pagan and second baseman Marco Scutaro. But in 2011, San Francisco made its biggest splash by trading for Pagan, who helped propel the club to a World Series title.

So expect anything from the Giants as they attempt to upgrade their roster once the meetings open on Monday.

From that point until the meetings conclude Thursday with the Rule 5 Draft, will provide blanket coverage of the activity from the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort.

Monitor for the latest developments involving manager Bruce Bochy's club, including an outlook for the 2014 season from Bochy himself when he meets with reporters on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. PT. Fans can provide input by sending messages to the @sfgiantsbeat Twitter account.

Chris Haft is a reporter for Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat.

San Francisco Giants