Giants' next big splash could come at Meetings

Giants' next big splash could come at Meetings

SAN FRANCISCO -- Pursuing pitching won't be the Giants' only offseason activity. They also have an outfield to consider.

They're seeking a capable hitter to play left field. Expect the Giants to be linked to free agents such as Justin Upton, Alex Gordon and Jason Heyward.

Hot Stove Tracker

For now, club officials have insisted that Angel Pagan will remain the starting center fielder. That could change if the right player is presented in the right offer.

In the wake of their unsuccessful attempt to sign right-hander Zack Greinke, the biggest prize in free agency, the Giants turned their attention to Jeff Samardzija, who agreed to a five-year deal with San Francisco on Saturday worth a reported $90 million.

MLB.com and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the 2015 Winter Meetings from the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tenn., with the Network launching 35 hours of live Winter Meetings coverage on Sunday at 5 p.m. PT. Fans can also catch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availability on MLB.com, as well as the announcement of the Hall of Fame Pre-Integration Era Committee inductees on Monday at 8 a.m. PT and the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday at 7 a.m. PT.

Club needs

Outfield: Hoping for an upgrade, the Giants depleted their own depth by declining to re-sign Marlon Byrd and Nori Aoki. Though both contributed handsomely at various times this year, the Giants obviously believe that they can do better in left field. They also would listen to proposals that would bring them a center fielder, though Pagan has one year left on his contract.

Starting pitching: For the first time since Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum were establishing themselves, the Giants likely still need reinforcements for their rotation. Madison Bumgarner, the 2014 World Series hero, was San Francisco's lone reliable starter in 2015. That sent the Giants into the offseason hoping to acquire one and possibly two starters, given Lincecum's and Ryan Vogelsong's free agency, the uncertainty surrounding Cain's comeback from injury and Tim Hudson's retirement. Even with the addition of Samardzija, the Giants could be in the market for another rotation arm.

Who they can trade if necessary

OF Gregor Blanco: Ostensibly, this makes no sense, given the Giants' need for outfielders and the fact that Blanco is coming off perhaps his best all-around year. However, due to Blanco's 2015 performance, his value will never be higher. Now might be the time to package him in a trade proposal if it'll help the Giaants gain a much-needed piece.

CF Pagan: See the comment above on Blanco. If the Giants could shed Pagan's $11.25 million salary for 2016, they'll do it. But his salary and his imminent entry into free agency folowwing the 2016 season will discourage any team from acquiring him, though he still can stimulate an offense when he's healthy.

INF Christian Arroyo: First of all, the Giants aren't trying to move Arroyo, who ranked among the Arizona Fall League's top performers. But they might be tempted to part with Arroyo, who hasn't established himself at any defensive position, if it meant obtaining a proven starter or outfielder. That would represent a clear case of prioritizing short-term needs over a potential long-term asset.

Top prospects

MLB.com ranks the 20-year-old Arroyo as the Giants' No. 2 prospect, sandwiched between right-handers Tyler Beede at No. 1 and Phil Bickford at No. 3. Once ranked No. 1, Kyle Crick, another right-hander, has fallen to sixth.

Such rankings mean relatively little to the Giants. They look for players to draft who are distinguished by their character and baseball instinct, not just raw talent. Hence they have thrived with heads-up performers such as Joe Panik, Matt Duffy and Buster Posey.

Rule 5 Draft

Only occasionally do the Giants select a player in the Rule 5 Draft, and when they have, he typically doesn't last long at Spring Training camp and returns to his previous organization.

Big contracts they might unload

The Giants would love to jettison Pagan's contract, which is in its fourth and final year. Given his injury history, however, it will be hard for them to find a taker.

Payroll summary

The Giants had cleared more than $50 million in payroll for 2016. That enabled them to pursue several top free-agent starting pitchers and land Samardzija. However, they still have some work -- and spending -- to do in Nashville.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.