Left field is a position of question for the 2014 Giants, and there are plenty of options on the free agent market.
The experts at HardBallTalk.com have compiled their list of the Top 150 free agents. Here are the outfield options:
2. Jacoby Ellsbury (OF Red Sox – Age 30): After an MVP-type 2011 and an injured and unproductive 2012, Ellsbury basically settled right back in at his career numbers last season. The 32-homer outburst from 2011 looks like it might go down as a Brady Anderson-like outlier, but Ellsbury is still plenty valuable even without the power. Also, he’s entering free agency at a great time, with the Rangers, Mariners and Mets in definite need of leadoff hitters. Even teams like the Yankees, Tigers, Nationals and Phillies can’t be ruled out. The Red Sox would love to have him back, too, but someone is going to give him Carl Crawford money (seven years, $142 million) and Boston isn’t likely to match.
2013 stats: .298/.355/.426, 9 HR, 92 R, 53 RBI, 52 SB in 577 AB
3. Shin-Soo Choo (OF Reds – Age 31): Choo had almost 70 points of OBP on Ellsbury last season, but since he shouldn’t be viewed as a center fielder going forward, he’s probably not in for quite as big of a contract. That’s not say he’ll be hurting. The Reds should make an effort to bring him back, the Rangers, Mets and Mariners are among the teams that could use his leadoff skills and perhaps the Red Sox would consider him for left if Ellsbury departs. He seems destined for a nine-figure deal that would top the five-year, $90 million extension Hunter Pence agreed to with the Giants.
2013 stats: .285/.423/.462, 21 HR, 107 R, 54 RBI, 20 SB in 569 AB
8. Curtis Granderson (OF Yankees – Age 33): After hitting 40 homers in both of the previous two seasons, Granderson picked the wrong winter to head into free agency for the first time. Of course, even those willing to overlook the injuries that ruined his 2013 should note that his 2012 was one of the weakest 40-homer campaigns ever (.319 OBP, 195 strikeouts, 26 of 43 homers coming at Yankee Stadium). He’s also turning 33 in the spring. Perhaps he’ll be adequate in center field for a couple of more years, but he might be more valuable in a corner. Ideally, he could be had on something like a three-year, $54 million contract. At least one team will probably go to four years, though.
2013 stats: .229/.317/.407, 7 HR, 31 R, 15 RBI, 8 SB in 214 AB
9. Carlos Beltran (OF Cardinals – Age 36): The Cardinals could scarcely have hoped that they’d get 296 games (plus 29 more in the postseason) from Beltran over the course of his two-year, $26 million contract. It will be interesting to see if he takes less to stay in St. Louis this time around with the Yankees, Rangers and Red Sox possibilities to come sniffing around. Two of his former teams, the Royals and Mets, could also make plays for him. Although his defense has gone downhill, he’s worth $40 million for two years in this market.
2013 stats: .296/.339/.491, 24 HR, 79 R, 84 RBI, 2 SB in 554 AB
12. Nelson Cruz (OF Rangers – Age 33): The 50-game steroids suspension may take a year or two off Cruz’s next contract, but it probably won’t stop him from getting at least $15 million per year. He was in the midst of a very good season when the ban took effect, and he’s managed to stay completely healthy two straight years after battling leg troubles earlier in his career. He’s still not much of a right fielder, but a team can live with him out there. Something like three years and $45 million might fit.
2013 stats: .266/.327/.506, 27 HR, 49 R, 76 RBI, 5 SB in 413 AB
30. Corey Hart (1B-OF Brewers – Age 32): Hart is just a year older than the new $90 million man, Pence, and he has a slightly better career OPS at .824 (a mark he’s beaten each of his last three healthy seasons). Unfortunately, he’s coming off surgery on both knees that cost him all of last season. He’s aiming to be ready for Opening Day, but it’s hardly a sure thing that he’ll be 100 percent. Whether he’ll be any sort of option in the outfield is unclear. Hart has said he’ll take less to stay with the Brewers, and they definitely have need of him at first base. However, if he chooses to explore his options, he could find suitors in Boston (if Napoli leaves) and Colorado.
2013 stats: N/A
2012 stats: .270/.334/.507, 30 HR, 91 R, 83 RBI, 5 SB in 562 AB
37. Marlon Byrd (OF Mets – Age 36): Byrd’s numbers may have been dismissed a bit had he finished the season with the Mets, but after a strong showing down the stretch with the Pirates and then some postseason heroics (.364 in six games, big homer in the wild card victory), he’s in much better position to get a two-year contract. Right-handed power just isn’t easy to come by. In fact, among right-handed hitters, Byrd led all free agents-to-be with his 24 homers.
2013 stats: .291/.336/.511, 24 HR, 75 R, 88 RBI, 2 SB in 532 AB
39. Chris Young (OF Athletics – Age 30): After six years as an everyday center fielder, Young didn’t take to the limited role he had in Oakland, hitting just .200. He’s always been rather unappreciated anyway, because of his modest averages (career high of .257) and underrated defense. It didn’t help that his 32-homer season as a rookie led to high expectations. Freed of those now, Young should be a solid enough regular for whichever team that snares him. He’s probably looking at a one-year deal and a chance to go back out on the market.
2013 stats: .200/.280/.379, 12 HR, 46 R, 40 RBI, 10 SB in 335 AB
*. Yoshio Itoi (OF Japan – Age 32): There’s been less of it lately, but speculation was that Itoi would be posted this winter. That he wanted to jump to MLB is one of the reasons the Nippon Ham Fighters traded him to the Orix Blue Wave last winter. Itoi, a left-handed bat, has been very consistent hitting between .300-.320 and posting OPSs between .813 and .901 in his all five of his full seasons in Japan. He has the skills to be a leadoff hitter in the majors, though there’s some question about whether he’ll be able to stay in center field.
2013 stats: .300/.384/.468, 17 HR, 75 R, 61 RBI, 33 SB in 524 AB
49. David Murphy (OF Rangers – Age 32): After five pretty terrific seasons as the game’s busiest fourth outfielder, Murphy was finally penciled in as a starter last season and stunk it up, losing 200 points off his 2012 OPS of .859. It was pretty much all BABIP, though: his strikeout rate was a career low and he showed about as much power as usual. He just didn’t hit singles. A rebound seems very likely, and Murphy should be able to get a multiyear deal, maybe something in the range of $12 million for two years.
2013 stats: .220/.282/.374, 13 HR, 51 R, 45 RBI, 1 SB in 436 AB
53. Michael Morse (OF Orioles – Age 31): Morse followed up a big spring with six homers in his first nine games for the Mariners. He then hit just seven more all year, with four coming after he hurt his wrist in May. Surgery to shave down a bone in his wrist followed in October. That there are only so many right-handed hitters with 25- or 30-homer power will work in Morse’s favor this winter. He’s not a big OBP guy and he’s a liability on defense, but he’ll have bidders.
2013 stats: .215/.270/.381, 13 HR, 34 R, 27 RBI, 0 SB in 312 AB
57. David DeJesus (OF Rays, 34): .251/.327/.402, $6.5 million club option
68. Kelly Johnson (2B-OF Rays, 32): .235/.305/.410, 16 HR in 366 AB
75. Nate McLouth (OF Orioles, 32): .258/.329/.399, 30 SB in 531 AB
92. Jason Kubel (OF-DH Indians, 31): .216/.293/.317 in 259 AB
94. Franklin Gutierrez (OF Mariners, 31): .248/.273/.503 in 145 AB
97. Rajai Davis (OF Blue Jays, 33): .260/.312/.375, 45 SB in 331 AB
103. Jeff Baker (INF-OF Rangers, 32): .279/.360/.545 in 154 AB
107. Skip Schumaker (2B-OF Dodgers, 34): .263/.332/.332 in 319 AB
113. Delmon Young (OF-DH Rays, 28): .260/.307/.407 in 334 AB
115. Luke Scott (OF Rays, 35): .241/.326/.415 in 253 AB
125. Jerry Hairston Jr. (INF-OF Dodgers, 37): .211/.265/.275 in 204 AB
138. Juan Pierre (OF Marlins, 36): .247/.284/.305, 23 SB in 308 AB
142. Reed Johnson (OF Braves, 37): .244/.311/.341 in 123 AB
144. Grady Sizemore (OF FA, 31): DNP – knee surgery
148. Andres Torres (OF Giants, 36): .250/.302/.342 in 272 AB