No left fielder yet, but Giants have time to fill spot
Assistant GM Evans denies club made offer to free-agent outfielder Baker
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The final full day of baseball's Winter Meetings concluded Wednesday without the Giants acquiring the left fielder they seek to complement their roster.
Fortunately for them, the search has barely begun.
A little more than two months remain before position players must report to Scottsdale, Ariz., for Spring Training on Feb. 18. That affords Giants general manager Brian Sabean and his staff ample time to find the proven hitter they need to bolster the offense.
Intriguing free agents such as Jeff Baker and Michael Morse remain available -- the Giants reportedly made an offer to Baker, which assistant general manager Bobby Evans denied -- and trade possibilities remain available. However, Evans reiterated Sabean by indicating that whoever the Giants land might not be a five-tool performer.
"We have to stay flexible in some respects," Evans said.
Asked whether the Giants valued some attributes such as power, plate discipline or defensive ability over others, Evans said, "I'm not sure I can give you a ranking priority. Everybody has different strengths. In a perfect world, you're looking for all those things."
Though the pace of the Giants' search almost surely will decelerate during the holidays, don't expect club management to hibernate. The Giants have been known to complete deals between Christmas and New Year's Day. Left-handers Barry Zito (2006) and Randy Johnson (2008) are among the more prominent players who reached agreements during this period.
"As long as we have opportunities to discuss ways to improve the clubs, we try to stay engaged," Evans said. "Our phones don't go off."
According to Evans, Giants officials didn't spend Wednesday dialing the number of Scott Boras, Baker's agent, despite a Twitter report which cited unnamed sources who claimed that the club was in negotiations with the 32-year-old.
"We have made no offer to Baker and are not engaged in conversations with [Boras]," Evans said, adding that "the better part of a week" has passed since he and the agent last spoke about Baker.
Nevertheless, a ring of truth could be heard in this false alarm. Baker fit the profile of the type of outfielder the Giants might ultimately obtain.
He's a journeyman, having played for the Rockies, Cubs, Rangers, Braves and Tigers during a nine-year Major League career.
He's the quintessential platoon player, a right-handed batter who punishes left-handed pitching, making him an ideal counterpart for left-handed-batting Gregor Blanco. Last season with Texas, Baker batted .314 and hit 10 home runs in 123 plate appearances against lefties. By contrast, he homered once while hitting .204 off righties. Lifetime, Baker has hit .298 against left-handers and .236 off right-handers.
Having played for $1.75 million 2013, Baker's salary demands surely wouldn't break the Giants' budget.
Interested observers continue to believe that the Giants should latch onto Morse, who has been hampered by injuries since he batted .303 with 31 homers and 95 RBIs for Washington in 2011.
All trade speculation involving the Yankees' Brett Gardner, among the most talented outfielders said to be available through either trade or free agency, has gone silent. But Evans said that the Giants have equal chances of acquiring a player through either avenue.