LAS VEGAS — The first move of the Farhan Zaidi era was the addition of an outfielder. It’s possible that’ll be the theme of the offseason.
Zaidi and the Giants entered the 2018 MLB Winter Meetings with just four outfielders on their 40-man roster, none of whom have established themselves as everyday major leaguers. On Monday, Zaidi said he expects to add at least two more outfielders to the mix before spring training.
The biggest name out there, of course, is Bryce Harper. Zaidi said the Giants have not met with Harper or his representative, Scott Boras, although he expects to meet with Boras and all the other major agents over the next three days.
There’s no indication that the Giants are seriously in on Harper, though. In fact, it’s the opposite. Larry Baer, the team president and CEO, was flying home Monday night, so the Giants certainly are not a team gearing up for one of the marathon sessions Harper and Boras reportedly have been doing.
Even if the Giants end up with much less famous options, it’s possible that those players — like Harper — will not find their new home until January. Zaidi assessed the market as “slow moving” and said he’s looking at trade and free agent options.
“Particularly on the free-agent side, I would expect some of those options to go into the next calendar year,” the Giants' new president of baseball operations said.
Zaidi said adding to the outfield is a "high priority" right now, although he likes the depth provided by the current group of Steven Duggar, Chris Shaw, Mac Williamson and Austin Slater. Duggar is the closest to a locked-down job, and Zaidi does view him as an everyday player down the line, but the Giants are strongly considering finding a platoon partner for Duggar, who is coming off shoulder surgery.
“The outfield is a good market to be buyers in,” Zaidi said. “There are always good options in free agency, and especially for us, as a team looking to improve offensively, having openings in the outfield are good spots to try to add offense. We’re going to be thorough. We’re not in a hurry.”
That certainly will be the case. It took a month for Zaidi to make his first roster addition, claiming outfielder Mike Gerber off waivers from the Detroit Tigers on Monday morning. In discussing Gerber, Zaidi hinted the organization is viewing things differently.
He said the team’s analytics staff looked at Statcast data to determine if Gerber has the proper range, top speed and sprint speed to play center field and right field at AT&T Park. The staff believes Gerber, who had strong minor-league seasons in 2016 and 2017 but took a step back last year, does have the right skill set.
“He can play all three outfield positions,” Zaidi said. “He’s an athletic guy, he’s a good base runner, and overall we’re just looking to improve our organizational depth in that particular area. He’s going to be a nice added piece for us.”