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Analyzing Next Year’s Free Agent Market: Part II

December 23, 2011

All free agents for next year’s offseason can be found on MLBTradeRumors. If you haven’t already, check out Part I for analysis on the infield market.

Part II will focus on the outfield depth in the 2013 free agent market.

Left Fielders:

Really only one name highlights the left field market: Josh Hamilton. In all likelihood, he’ll end up re-signing with the Rangers but it’s nice to fantasize about Posey, Hamilton, Sandoval, and Belt filling up the middle of the order. Barring some trade or a miraculous signing of Prince Fielder, this position will definitely need to be addressed one way or another in the coming offseason. Aside from Hamilton, the only names worth mentioning are incumbent Melky Cabrera and possibly Delmon Young. Unless Belt for whatever reason gets shifted to left or the position is addressed in a trade, there’s a possibility Melky could be re-signed to a short extension if his performance is up to par. Of course considering that Eric Hinske, Reed Johnson, Carlos Lee, and Mark Kotsay are all over the 35-age threshold, there exists the slight, but terrible chance that all of them could form the outfield in 2013.

Center Fielders:

Gary Brown is expected to be called to patrol center field by 2013; however the Giants will likely do their due diligence regardless. The position is stocked with talent, with teams able to choose among Michael Bourn, Marlon Byrd, Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan, Grady Sizemore, BJ Upton, and Shane Victorino to play at least an adequate center field. Perhaps not Melky and Pagan (what a surprise), but they’ll undoubtedly get some calls. While most of them will be seeking multi-year contracts, Byrd could be someone the Giants might take a glance at if Brown isn’t ready by the end of Spring Training. He’s been consistently respectable offensively and defensively over the past 5 seasons, with a median WAR of 2.4 and a peak WAR of 4.4 over that period, but he’ll be 35 come next offseason.

Right Fielders:

If Nate Schierholtz can emulate his 2011 over the course of a full season, he should lock up the starting right field job by 2013. That being said, the Giants will be looking to improve the outfield in any way they can, and with Andre Ethier, Carlos Quentin, Nick Swisher, and Ichiro all being free agents, the FO will be evaluating every one of them quite thoroughly. If the Dodgers can’t lock him up, Ethier could be a great investment. He swings for average, power, he walks, and has never posted an wRC+ under 101 in his career. He’s average defensively, but would be a noticeable offensive upgrade over Schierholtz and at 31, would have at least 3 more solid years left under his belt. Swisher will be 32 next year and also highly sought after. While he walks more than Ethier, he also strikes out more often and though both players are rather comparable, Swisher will likely end up commanding more coin.

Quentin is an abomination on the field and would better suited as a full time DH. Age, it seems, has finally caught up to Ichiro, who has accumulated 52.8 WAR over his first 10 seasons but only 0.2 in 2011. At 39, he’ll likely retire or re-sign a short term deal with the Mariners to cap off his illustrious career in Seattle. Giants prospect Francisco Peguero could also be a consideration for the position as he’s hitting well under the radar. He hit .309 in 71 games in AA last year, but has been notorious for not taking walks. He is a plus defender at RF and projects to have some power, however his lack of walks are a common concern.

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