Trade looking more likely as Giants eye third-base answer

With more free agents off the board, SF could be forced to deal pitching prospects

Trade looking more likely as Giants eye third-base answer

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants might have to engineer a trade to obtain a third baseman, since the supply of capable free agents at that position dwindled sharply Monday.

Chase Headley, considered the top third baseman remaining on the open market, agreed to a reported four-year, $52 million deal with the Yankees. Jed Lowrie, primarily a shortstop who has accumulated an adequate amount of experience at third base, signed for three years and $23 million with Houston.

Interestingly, the removal of Headley and Lowrie from the open market could have made no difference to the Giants. No recent evidence suggested that they were significantly interested in signing either player.

Free-agent middle infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, who has made exactly one career Major League appearance at third base, reportedly has balked at playing third. Whether he might feel differently the longer he remains unsigned remains anybody's guess.

The Giants could use their Minor League pitching surplus to trade for a third baseman. Among those who could be available include Cleveland's Lonnie Chisenhall, Miami's Casey McGehee and Boston's Will Middlebrooks.

Chisenhall, 26, established numerous career highs in 2014, including games (142), batting average (.280), on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS, .770), home runs (13) and RBIs (59). But he ranked 23rd among Major League third basemen with a -10.7 UZR (ultimate zone rating), which measures a fielder's success at reaching batted balls determined to be in his zone of the field. By comparison, the recently departed Pablo Sandoval ranked 10th best this year with a 3.5 UZR for the Giants, according to fangraphs.com.

McGehee, 32, won the National League Comeback Player of the Year Award by hitting .287 with 76 RBIs in 160 games after playing in Japan during 2013. He also recorded a -1.6 UZR, 17th best at his position.

Middlebrooks, 26, became potentially expendable with Boston's acquisition of Sandoval. His batting average has dwindled annually since 2012, from .288 to .227 to .191. His OPS also has slid from .835 to .696 to .522. He compiled a -0.6 UZR in 63 games this year.

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.