NASHVILLE — On Day 3 of the annual Winter Meetings, Giants executives have started to see some shifts in the market. It’s thought that a flood of moves may be coming before teams leave Nashville, and there’s a clear priority for some key decision makers.
Vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean said he would prefer to add a second starting pitcher, and executives familiar with the organization’s wish list insist that manager Bruce Bochy is pushing hard for another arm. The Giants need a left fielder, but feel their biggest issue remains starting pitching depth. Sabean echoed that feeling Wednesday in an interview that will air on CSN Bay Area later in the day.
“If you ask me personally or Bochy as a manager, we would probably side with getting as much pitching as we can,” Sabean said. “But we’re not going to overpay.”
Mike Leake has been a primary target, but the Giants have balked at Leake’s asking price. They’re not going to hand out a second $90 million deal like the one Jeff Samardzija got, and Leake is now thought to be giving serious thought to joining the Washington Nationals. Sabean said Leake is “in the mix but you have to consider him against the field.”
The Giants are still scouring the trade market, but prices are absurdly high. Most teams ask for Matt Duffy or Joe Panik, and sometimes the request is both. Prospects would be involved in any deal, too. Sabean noted that when he first started as a general manager, it wasn’t considered good business to give up an everyday star for a guy who pitches once every five days.
“Those sands have shifted,” he said.
That doesn’t mean the Giants are going to fully embrace the shift. Teams can keep asking about Duffy and Panik, but the Giants don’t intend on budging.
"There's really no scenario where we want to bust up one of the best infields in baseball,” Sabean said.
The Giants remain in on all the big free agent outfielders as well as many available pitchers, and they have financial leeway after ending up with Samardzija, not Zack Greinke. Sabean said he expects the team’s payroll number to end up right around last year’s $170 million or so, which likely will mean just one more big-ticket item.
“I don’t know that we can fix both (the outfield and one more rotation spot) in a significant way,” he said.
--- Samardzija passed his physical and will be introduced at AT&T Park on Friday. Asked about what he saw that made him confident in Samardzija, Sabean listed the themes that have become common since the signing: He’ll play in a bigger park, with a better defense, and he won’t keep bouncing to new teams as he has in the past couple of seasons. He also noted something interesting, that the Giants think they can “do something with his arm angle.” We’ll have to wait and see what Dave Righetti has in mind …
--- Here's my look at the recruitment of Greinke.
--- The Giants already have two All-Star infielders, and Matt Duffy and Brandon Belt could get to that point next year. Another could be on the way. Sabean saw a lot of Christian Arroyo this year, and he was very impressed by the organization’s top prospect.
“We’re all marveling at how fast the bat is coming,” he said. “Now, will he be a shortstop? I don’t think so. Is he going to be a second baseman or third baseman? We have to flush that out. But this guy is a legitimate bat.”
Sabean compared Arroyo to Panik, another former shortstop. The 2013 first-round pick will play second base and short for Double-A Richmond next season.