SAN DIEGO -- Nothing is definitive, but Padres general manager Kevin Towers said Tuesday that the team is leaning toward picking up right fielder Brian Giles' $9 million option for 2009.
"We're probably leaning more toward exercising the option," Towers said. "This is guy really makes our offense go, and he's the type of hitter we like to have, especially in this ballpark. Each and every day he plays hard, plays a hard right field."
Giles, who turns 38 in January, finished seventh in the National League in hitting (.306) and sixth in on-base percentage (.398), and he also closed the season with his most hits (171) since 2004, when he had 173.
Giles reached base in 34 of the last 35 games of the regular season, and he hit .340 in August and .323 in September.
The Padres hold a $9 million option on Giles, and there have been rumblings during the second half of the year that the team might not pick up the option and instead pay Giles the $3 million to walk, especially since a reduced payroll is expected for 2009.
It got to the point where Giles wasn't sure what direction the team would go, especially since early in the season he got the vibe that his option would be picked up.
"It's changed so many times, I'm confused on the whole situation," Giles said Sunday. "Obviously, there's been a lot of talk about philosophy the last two weeks. I feel the way I go about my at-bats, that's everything this organization wants. So I don't see why it [the option] wouldn't be picked up. But there's a lot of different variables that play into that."
One variable that might work in Giles' favor is that, as Towers sees it, there is a "really weak free-agent class," and that trying to find a similar player who fits the ideal offensive philosophy of the team might be "easier said than done."
San Diego manager Bud Black echoed Towers' sentiments and would welcome back his right fielder with open arms for 2009.
"Brian's a great role model for a lot of hitters," Black said. "I know that Brian leads so much by example and how he plays. You know, the day-to-day, the playing every inning, the durability, not giving away at-bats, breaking up double plays, playing all-out in the field. He does a lot of things that, hopefully, a lot of young players watch and emulate."
The Padres have until five days after the conclusion of the World Series to decide what they want to do with Giles.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.