Monday, December 6 2021

Five right-handed bats Giants could target in free agency originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

For the biggest game of their season, the Giants had Buster Posey hitting third and Kris Bryant two spots behind him. They were Gabe Kapler’s two most dangerous hitters in the five-game NLDS, but there’s a pretty strong chance that neither is in the lineup next Opening Day. 

Posey has retired, leaving a gaping hole in the clubhouse and the lineup. Bryant is a free agent for the first time and widely viewed as one of the five best hitters on the market. The Giants know he’s going to have a lot of suitors and is likely to stretch this out until closer to spring training, and they don’t seem likely to wait around. 

That all presents a problem for the team that finished second in the NL in runs scored. The Giants need a lot of help from the right side, although there are ways to fill some of the gap internally. Joey Bart should take over for Posey and the top prospect certainly has the potential to give the Giants another Silver Slugger catcher. Heliot Ramos isn’t far away, Darin Ruf earned more playing time down the stretch, and the hope is that Evan Longoria can stay on the field for more than 81 games. 

But this isn’t a front office that relies on hope. They build waves of depth, and after Farhan Zaidi and Scott Harris fill the rotation, they will work on fortifying the lineup from the right side. Here are five big-name options — other than Bryant, whom the Giants will keep tabs on — who could fill the hole:

Marcus Semien

Brandon Crawford’s huge season — and subsequent two-year extension — took the Giants out of the vaunted shortstop market, but Semien, a Cal product who was born in San Francisco, could still be a perfect fit. He was a Gold Glove winner after moving to second base for the Blue Jays, and the Giants could get creative while having him in the heart of their lineup every day. 

Semien could soak up about 30 starts at short when Crawford gets days off and spend the rest of his time at second, where the Giants are not as deep as they look on paper. Tommy La Stella started just 47 games at second last year and will be coming off Achilles surgery. Wilmer Flores can handle some second and the Giants want to get Thairo Estrada more involved, but there are still a lot of at-bats to go around at second and third, particularly if Bryant departs. 

RELATED: Giants viewed as suitor for Semien

Semien was an 8-win player in 2019 and a 7-win player last season, and his 45 homers helped make him an AL MVP finalist. He also answers the bell every single day, playing 162 games each of the last two full MLB seasons and leading the majors in plate appearances both years. With his versatility and strong clubhouse reputation, Semien would fit right in if the Giants want to shop at the high end of the market to replace Posey’s right-handed bat.

Starling Marte

The Giants actually did just fine by rotating Mike Yastrzemski and Austin Slater into the mix in center field, and they do want to get Steven Duggar more starts next year, but they still would benefit greatly from a right-handed bat in center, pushing Yastrzemski and Slater back to the corners. 

Marte had a 133 OPS+, and while he hit just 12 homers for the Marlins and A’s, he had 20-plus in each of his two previous full seasons. He also stole 47 bases and got caught just five times, so he would bring a different element to a team that led the NL in homers but had trouble manufacturing offense in the NLDS. 

Marte would be a good fit for the 2022 roster in center and then could move to a corner if Ramos and others start to emerge. He just turned 33, so the end of his next contract could hurt, but the Giants are back in win-now mode and have zero long-term payroll commitments, so they’re in a great position to take the chance. 

Nick Castellanos 

It seems like Castellanos gets thrown into the rumor mill with the Giants every winter, and it’s happening again. That’s because Castellanos has always seemed to be a great fit for Oracle Park. 

Castellanos hit a career-high 34 homers in 2021 but he has primarily been someone who hangs in the twenties while hitting a ton of doubles, and he even led the league in triples one year. He has power to all fields, and while he would surely get Oracle’d a lot, he would also find the gaps more than anyone in the lineup. The ballpark is actually pretty fair to right-handers with pull power, and Castellanos hit 21 homers to left or left-center last season. 

Defensively, Castellanos rates below average, but the Giants have never had a high standard to play left field at Oracle Park. They also know that the DH is likely coming in 2022, and the 29-year-old could be a fit in that spot for years to come. 

Seiya Suzuki 

Suzuki will get posted by the Hiroshima Carp in the coming week, according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly reported that an agreement likely will be reached to pause the 30-day signing window if there is a work stoppage, but there still should be a bit of a scramble before Dec. 1 for teams trying to lock Suzuki up. 

The 27-year-old outfielder is one of the best players to come over in recent years. He hit 38 homers last season with a .436 OBP, and while there’s always some question about how those numbers will carry over, scouts are confident that Suzuki’s approach will make him a potential star in MLB. He had 88 walks to 87 strikeouts last season and was even the year before, too. Suzuki has at least 25 homers each of the last six seasons and has posted an OPS over 1.000 three of the last four years. 

The Giants were a finalist for Shohei Ohtani and have gone hard after other NPB stars over the years. Few have fit better than Suzuki, a right-handed power-hitting right fielder who could just be entering his prime. 

Chris Taylor

One of Zaidi’s great success stories in Los Angeles, Taylor hits free agency after hitting 20 homers and posting a 110 OPS+ while making his first All-Star team. What really makes him appealing, though, is his versatility. 

Taylor played second, short, third and all three outfield positions last year, and he plays most of them really well. He has proven he can handle center field at Oracle Park and he would fill a need on the infield, too. There’s a lot of swing-and-miss in Taylor’s at-bats, but it’s rare to find a player this versatile who can provide the type of power that he brings, which is why it was an easy call for him to turn down the qualifying offer. He’s Bryant light, bringing less at the plate but more with the glove, and he’ll cost a lot less.

The Giants have seen firsthand how valuable Taylor is over the last few years, and like with Max Scherzer, there’s an added reason to chase him. Bringing Taylor up the coast would help the Giants but also really hurt their main rival. 

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Source: Yahoo Sports

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