Giants' best bet to bolster OF is via trades
San Francisco has openings after declining options on Aoki, Byrd
SAN FRANCISCO -- Trading for an outfielder, rather than attempting to obtain one through free agency, makes sense for the Giants.
General manager Bobby Evans revealed the club's willingness to try somebody new, in left field and off the bench, by declining the 2016 options for Nori Aoki and Marlon Byrd. In announcing those moves last Wednesday night, Evans referred to the need to allow the trade market to define itself, and for good reason.
Evans might have more success with bottling the wind than signing an offensively capable free-agent position player. The bias against AT&T Park among hitters remains widespread. They envision their best drives repeatedly dying in one of the outfield gaps. Thus, trading for an outfielder would behoove the Giants.
While the Giants wait for trade possibilities to emerge, here's a look at a handful of outfielders who could become available:
Brett Gardner, Yankees: The left-handed-batting Gardner, 32, is a 2015 All-Star who's owed an affordable $37.5 million in the next three seasons. But teams might be wary of what could be perceived as a mild decline in his production. His OPS has dwindled in each of the last three years, from .804 in 2012 to .742 last season.
Jay Bruce, Reds: Since 2011-13, when he averaged 32 homers and 102 RBIs per season, Bruce has frequently struggled, maintaining a batting average hovering in the low .200s. However, he boosted his home run and RBIs output from 18 and 66, respectively, in 2014 to 26 and 87 last season. Bruce's contract, which pays him $12.5 million in 2016, features a $13 million team option in 2017 with a $1 million buyout.
Cameron Maybin, Braves: The right-handed-batting Maybin is coming off a season, his first with Atlanta, that included career highs in batting average (.267), home runs (10), RBIs (59) and on-base percentage (.327). He also stole 23 bases in 29 tries, marking the first time since 2012 that he exceeded 20 steals. Maybin will earn $8 million in 2016 and is subject to a $9 million team option in 2017 that calls for a $1 million buyout.
Mark Trumbo, Mariners: After averaging 32 homers and 94 RBIs per season from 2011-13 with the Angels, Trumbo landed with the D-backs as part of a three-team trade before the 2014 season and sustained a stress fracture in his left foot less than one month into his first season in Arizona. Trumbo, who was traded to the Mariners during the 2015 season, is arbitration-eligible and can become a free agent after the 2016 season.
Josh Reddick, A's: Primarily a right fielder, Reddick likely possesses the aptitude to switch to left if necessary, as the Gold Glove Award he won in 2012 indicates. But don't count on Reddick ever wearing a Giants uniform unless he buys one for a Halloween costume. The A's and Giants haven't engineered a trade with each other since Dec. 4, 1990, when San Francisco received outfielder Darren Lewis and a Minor League pitcher for utility man Ernest Files.
Carl Crawford or Andre Ethier, Dodgers: See above. The Dodgers would be just as reluctant as Oakland to do anything that might assist their archrivals (the last Giants-Dodgers swap occurred on Aug. 9, 2007, when San Francisco exchanged first baseman Mark Sweeney for Minor League infielder Travis Denker). But with Crawford earning almost $22 million in each of the next two years and Ethier on the books for $18 million in 2016, the Dodgers might consider anything to ease the payroll burden.