DALLAS -- The Giants have gathered all apparent candidates for next year's outfield. Arranging them properly must wait until Spring Training, however.After San Francisco officially announced its acquisition of Angel Pagan from the New York Mets, manager Bruce Bochy affirmed Wednesday that he would throw open all three outfield spots to competition once the full squad convenes in late February at Scottsdale, Ariz. "I don't want to lock anything up right now," Bochy said, citing his outfielders' "versatility and flexibility." Given those qualities, possibilities for the starting trio appear numerous. Pagan or Melky Cabrera, the Giants' other major offseason pickup, could play left field. Aubrey Huff and Brandon Belt also remain in the mix there, as well as at first base. Andres Torres' departure in the Mets trade opened center field for Pagan, who played that spot in each of his 121 games last season, and Cabrera, a center fielder in 144 of his 155 appearances for Kansas City during 2011.
Nate Schierholtz seems to have the best chance to secure right field. But Huff has logged 284 games there during his career, including last season's opener. Cabrera (93 games) and Pagan (90) have a smattering of experience in right.The Giants aren't expected to make another significant addition to their outfield contingent.
"I think we're pretty well set," Bochy said on the final full day of baseball's Winter Meetings.Most likely, Cabrera (.305, 18 home runs, 87 RBIs in 2011) will start if he's primed to approach last season's production. So will Pagan if he can rebound from a subdued year (.262, seven homers, 56 RBIs, 32 stolen bases) that followed a rousing one (.290, 11 homers, 69 RBIs, 37 steals) in 2010. Mets manager Terry Collins explained the 30-year-old Pagan's decline in 2011.
"Knowing him, I think he thought he had to do more -- 'I've got to get to the next level' -- and I think he put a ton of pressure on himself. A ton," Collins said.Bouncing around the batting order might have hampered Pagan, a career .279 hitter with a .750 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage). Collins pointed out that the switch-hitter had to bat fifth, a role that didn't suit him, when Jason Bay opened last season on the disabled list. Later in the year, Pagan replaced an injured Jose Reyes in the leadoff spot. "He can fly," Collins said, praising Pagan's speed. "He's faster than Reyes. They raced and Angel beat him." Pagan committed 10 errors last season, an alarming total for an outfielder. Collins again cited Pagan's self-imposed pressure as a factor.
"I don't think he wanted to mess up," Collins said.Neither Pagan nor Cabrera will want to mess up next year. Both will become eligible for free agency after the season, which Sabean believes will keep them hungry. "There's a comfort zone with guys like Cabrera and Pagan having to play for a contract," Sabean said, adding that Freddy Sanchez is another potential free agent and Huff will have a $10 million option for 2013 tantalizing him. Bochy and Sabean said that the Giants' bullpen depth would enable them to weather losing Ramon Ramirez, the right-hander who was sent to the Mets along with Torres. San Francisco is closing in on a deal to re-sign right-hander Guillermo Mota, who waded into the free-agent pool after finishing 2-2 with a 3.81 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 52 outings last season. "We've given them an 'A' and a 'B' option," Sabean said, referring to Mota and his representatives. "It's just a matter of what they're going to choose." The Giants will receive either a player to be named later or cash from the Mets along with Pagan. The trade was San Francisco's first at the Winter Meetings since a 2005 swap of relievers that brought left-hander Steve Kline from Baltimore in exchange for right-hander LaTroy Hawkins.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.