NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Giants still think they can have it both ways: keeping right-hander Tim Lincecum while adding position players to boost the offense. Thus, general manager Brian Sabean emphasized that he will exhaust every other possibility, through trade or free agency, to find a satisfactory hitter or two whose arrival would spare the Giants from trading Lincecum. San Francisco is considering an offer from the Toronto Blue Jays, who would part with two-time All-Star outfielder Alex Rios to obtain the electrifying Lincecum.
Belief throughout the industry is widespread that the Giants should retain Lincecum, the 23-year-old who finished 7-5 with a 4.00 ERA and 150 strikeouts in 146 1/3 innings as a rookie in 2007. Sabean shares that sentiment, the Giants' hunger for Rios notwithstanding. "We're not going to trade pitching for the sake of making a trade, even though the one scenario that has presented itself is a unique baseball trade," Sabean said Thursday. "Our responsibility is to try to keep as much pitching intact as we can, yet change the lineup. That's what the challenge has been." Although baseball's Winter Meetings concluded, the Giants' search for hitters could be accelerating. Sabean said that he still has some trade options to explore and planned to intensify talks with representatives for several free agents before leaving Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, site of the Meetings. Steve Hillard, one of the agents for Japanese center fielder Kosuke Fukodome, was known to be on the premises. "You have to flush out other alternatives so you don't have to move a certain player," Sabean said, still refusing to name Lincecum publicly. "In my estimation, I don't think this proposal on either side is going to go away. There's a luxury in that because it buys you more time." Sabean stayed cool while one of San Francisco's National League West rivals ostensibly strengthened itself. Late Wednesday, the Los Angeles Dodgers agreed to a two-year, $36.2 million deal with free-agent center fielder Andruw Jones, who aroused lukewarm interest from the Giants. "I think it would be bad business to react to other people doing business -- or overreact, let's say," said Sabean, who indicated that the Giants weren't willing to offer anything close to the salary Jones received from the Dodgers. Other options are more affordable. Although Sabean said he didn't envision acquiring a player who earns eight figures annually, the Giants are believed to have inquired about New York Yankees left fielder Hideki Matsui, who'll receive $13 million in each of the next two seasons. Matsui will turn 34 next June, but his production remains high (.285, 25 homers, 103 RBIs in '07). To escape the Yankees' overcrowded outfield, Matsui is thought to be willing to waive his no-trade clause.