Giants, A’s seeking outfielders at GM meetings; FYI, Giancarlo Stanton is a mighty fine defender – SFGate
Photo: Alan Diaz, Associated Press
ORLANDO – As serious as the Giants say they are about upgrading their lineup, they need to be just as serious about upgrading their defense, particularly in the outfield.
“The outfield is really the focal point,” general manager Bobby Evans said. “Our outfield defense really struggled this year. When you play in a big ballpark, if we don’t protect our pitching with better defense out there, we’re going to pay the price.”
It’s the second day of the GM meetings in Orlando, and the Giants and A’s continue to lay the groundwork for improving their rosters, and both teams need outfielders.
The A’s want a right-handed hitter to play a corner while the Giants need a defensive-minded center fielder as well as a corner outfielder, preferably a slugger.
By the way, lost in Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton’s fabulous offensive season is the fact he’s an above average defender. He was a finalist for a Gold Glove among National League right fielders along with the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig and Cubs’ Jason Heyward. Heyward won.
The Giants, who finished last in the majors in home runs, are targeting Stanton, whose 59 homers led the majors. According to Joe Frisaro, who covers the Marlins for MLB.com, Giants outfield prospect Heliot Ramos has been mentioned as a possible trade piece. Ramos, 18, was the Giants’ first pick (19th overall) in the June draft and hit .348 with six homers in 35 games in rookie league.
Stanton has a full no-trade clause and would need to approve any deal. He’s owed $295 million over the next 10 years.
If the Giants have a dream offseason and land Stanton and, say, Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton, they’d most likely platoon Denard Span and Hunter Pence in left. While the Giants already talked with Span about moving to left next season, the subject of a position change hasn’t been addressed with Pence.
All is contingent on which outfielder(s) the Giants acquire.
One long-discussed option is moving first baseman Brandon Belt to the outfield, especially with the depth of available first basemen, but Evans said that’s not happening.
“It’s hard to move a Gold Glove-caliber first baseman to the outfield,” Evans said. “We’re trying to improve our outfield defense, and that wouldn’t fit into our strategy. It’s not ideal. You like to see him play the position he’s best at.”
The Chronicle’s Susan Slusser reported last week the A’s have interest in Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna and possibly Christian Yelich, though Yelich bats left-handed. The Marlins’ new ownership, led by Derek Jeter, is trying to dramatically slash payroll.
Billy Butler finally is off the books, so the A’s have more payroll flexibility.
“There’s a little bit more room, again depending on where our payroll is at,” said GM David Forst, adding the exact budget hasn’t been determined. “We’re obviously trying to put together a long-term plan that gears toward the (proposed) stadium and recognizing where we are so that spending may be pushed back to later years.”
One free-agent outfielder the A’s don’t plan to pursue is Ichiro Suzuki. His agent, John Boggs, spoke with management and was hoping there would be a fit with Ichiro’s close relationship with Bob Melvin, who managed the future Hall of Famer in Seattle.