SAN DIEGO -- The Giants often traveled here in recent seasons to play critical games during September stretch drives. Their upcoming visit is no less essential to the club's success.
Barely more than a month after winning their third World Series in five seasons, the Giants will spend baseball's Winter Meetings striving to add a starting pitcher to bolster a sagging rotation and a third baseman to replace Pablo Sandoval, who left for the Boston Red Sox in free agency. Baseball's annual festival of free-agency rumors, trade talks and occasionally an actual transaction begins Monday and concludes Thursday.
It's no secret who the Giants covet most. They're pursuing free agent Jon Lester, who would combine with Madison Bumgarner to give San Francisco a 1-2 left-handed punch at the top of the rotation. The Red Sox, Cubs and Dodgers also are wooing Lester, who reportedly wants a six-year contract worth at least $130 million.
The Giants' top choice to replace Sandoval is Chase Headley, another free agent who has drawn heavy interest. Headley hit only .243 overall in 2014, but he improved after joining the Yankees from San Diego in a July trade, batting .262 with New York following a .229 showing as a Padre.
As the baseball world has learned, Giants general manager Brian Sabean wastes no time or energy in trying to fill the club's needs. He won't brood if another team gets Lester or Headley. Instead, he'll renew efforts to secure a capable alternative. The Giants will be satisfied with a starter capable of throwing at least 200 innings and a third baseman who can approach Sandoval's 2014 production (.279, 16 homers, 73 RBIs, 3.3 WAR). Moreover, they don't feel pressure to fill either need during the Winter Meetings. Anytime soon afterward will suffice.
A look toward 2015 will be provided Wednesday when Giants manager Bruce Bochy meets with reporters. You can make your voice heard by sending a question for potential submission to Bochy in a Twitter message to the reporter's account listed below.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.