Which non-tender FAs might Giants target?

Beat reporter Maria Guardado shares what's on her mind

December 4th, 2020

The Giants have been relatively quiet this offseason, but their activity could begin to pick up now that Wednesday’s non-tender deadline has passed. With nearly 60 new players added to the free-agent pool, San Francisco will head into next week’s virtual Winter Meetings with a better outlook on the market for talent this winter.

With that in mind, here are three things I’m thinking about regarding the Giants:

1. Could these non-tendered players interest the Giants?
The Giants cleared out their 40-man roster by declining to tender 2021 contracts to five players, including left-hander Tyler Anderson and infielder Daniel Robertson. They could choose to fill some of their recently vacated spots with players who were cut loose by other organizations and represent better fits for their roster. Let’s take a look at a few potential options.

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Dahl was one of the more prominent names to hit the free-agent market after being non-tendered by the Rockies on Wednesday. An All-Star in 2019, Dahl has struggled with injuries throughout his career, never playing in more than 100 games in a season, but he’s a former first-round Draft pick with an .828 career OPS in the Majors. The 26-year-old has experience playing all three outfield spots and could be a platoon option for in center field. Other left-handed-hitting outfielders such as , , and could garner looks from the Giants as well.

The Giants are quite familiar with Bradley, who spent the first six seasons of his career with the D-backs before being traded to the Reds in August. Bradley, 28, has logged a 2.95 ERA with 28 saves since moving to the bullpen in 2017 and could help fill the leadership void left by Tony Watson, who is a free agent. The Giants’ bullpen already features several lefties in , , and , but the group could use an established right-handed option like Bradley to help lock down the late innings in 2021.

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Another Rockies castoff, Wolters could give the Giants a left-handed-hitting catcher to pair with and allow top prospect to further his development in the Minors. The 28-year-old comes with a strong defensive reputation and has batted .238 with a .642 OPS and seven home runs after reaching the Majors in 2016.

2. Giants among clubs making ‘biggest push’ for starters
The market for starting pitchers has proved surprisingly robust this offseason, as evidenced by the recent deals for Marcus Stroman (one year, $18.9 million), Drew Smyly (one year, $11 million), Mike Minor (two years, $18 million), Charlie Morton (one year, $15 million) and Robbie Ray (one year, $8 million). The Giants have already committed $18.9 million to , who accepted the one-year qualifying offer to return to San Francisco, but they have more work to do to upgrade a rotation that emerged as a relative weakness in 2020.

Their lack of starting depth made the decision to non-tender Anderson a bit surprising, but it likely indicated that the Giants felt there are better options available on the free-agent market, which includes several high-upside arms the club might be willing to gamble on.

MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported that the Giants are among the clubs making “the biggest push to sign starters,” and they could have an advantage in attracting pitchers given their recent success with Gausman, Smyly and Drew Pomeranz, who parlayed one-year deals in San Francisco into more lucrative free-agent contracts.

One of the more interesting names the Giants have been linked to this offseason is veteran lefty , who hit the open market after the Cubs declined his $25 million team option for 2021. Lester considered signing with the Giants as a free agent following the 2014 season and has familiarity with general manager Scott Harris, who worked in the Cubs’ front office during Lester’s tenure in Chicago.

A five-time All-Star and three-time World Series champion, Lester recorded a career-high 5.16 ERA over 12 starts in 2020 and will turn 37 in January. Still, he’s only two years removed from a strong campaign in which he posted a 3.32 ERA over 181 2/3 innings and could welcome the opportunity to pitch under two of his former Red Sox teammates: manager Gabe Kapler and pitching coach Andrew Bailey.

3. Marcell Ozuna rumors
National League clubs are still waiting to hear a definitive answer on the status of the universal designated hitter in 2021, but if the DH is here to stay, the Giants could consider adding a marquee bat to bolster their lineup. MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi reported that the Giants have interest in free-agent slugger , who placed sixth in NL MVP voting after batting .338 with a NL-high 18 home runs and 56 RBIs over 60 games with the Braves this year.

Ozuna, 30, profiles primarily as a DH option, but he could also serve as a complement to the left-handed-hitting in left field. Still, is already projected to fill that role and would come at a far more affordable price after agreeing to terms on a one-year, $1.275 million deal to avoid arbitration on Wednesday.

Ozuna signed a one-year, $18 million deal with the Braves last offseason and will likely be seeking a multiyear contract following his standout 2020 campaign. He might have to wait for the DH matter to be resolved before his market begins to fully coalesce, though.

"I think we just have to sort of hedge our bets, which we have to do in a lot of different areas," president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said recently. "It's not clear when that decision might be made, so we're just going to have to maintain roster flexibility. We're going to have 13 position players on our roster one way or another, but it may make it more important to have enough defensive versatility and defensive ability on our position player group. That may be something that influences some of these decisions. "