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MLB free agency debate: Where will Michael Brantley sign this offseason?

MLB free agency debate: Where will Michael Brantley sign this offseason?

Editor's note: Each day this week, Giants insider Alex Pavlovic and A's reporter Ben Ross will debate where one of the top five free agents might land this offseason. Tuesday's free agent to discuss is Michael Brantley, an three-time All-Star outfielder who has spent his entire career with the Cleveland Indians.

ALEX: Ben, yesterday we went right to the top of the market and discussed Bryce Harper. If you're looking for outfield help -- and a lot of teams are -- it gets kind of sketchy after Harper.

Andrew McCutchen still is a good player, but he's no longer an MVP candidate. A.J. Pollock has had a ton of injury issues. Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and others are really getting up there in age. But I'm intrigued by Michael Brantley, who has never really lived up to the hype because of his own injuries. If you're looking for a guy who has a moderate amount of pop and gets on base at a high rate -- hellooooo, Giants -- he could be your guy.

BEN: He might be a great fit for the Giants, but the A’s already have enough outfielders, for a fraction of the cost. What have you heard about the Giants’ interest in Brantley? Where else do you think he could end up?

ALEX: I haven't heard anything concrete regarding their interest, but I think he's an interesting case. On one hand, they've been burned over and over again by giving money to position players -- particularly outfielders -- in their 30s. But they also have two corner outfield spots open and desperately need established hitters.

Brantley, who has always been a good OBP guy, would fit in that respect. Perhaps Farhan Zaidi can pull a Chris Taylor or Max Muncy out of another organization, but if Brantley's price drops, he could be a fill-in for a couple of seasons.

I wonder if he'll end up with a team that missed out on Harper and still has that need. The Phillies could fit there. The Braves have been a rumored destination. Maybe the White Sox? Who am I missing?

BEN: I think he makes a lot of sense in San Francisco. As you mentioned, he has a great career OBP with decent power and speed. It looks like he'll probably get around $15 million per year, which is reasonable for a back-to-back All-Star.

I think the Phillies and Braves both make a lot of sense, especially if Philadelphia doesn't land Bryce Harper. Maybe the Nationals if Harper leaves? He also could be a nice A.J. Pollock replacement in Arizona, although Pollock plays center. How about the Rockies? Both Carlos Gonzalez and Gerardo Parra are free agents.

ALEX: It sounds like the Diamondbacks are rebuilding, and I think the Rockies need to spend that money elsewhere. This feels like a #MysteryTeam situation, but in the end, I'll go with a safe prediction.

I think Brantley ends up with the Braves as a Nick Markakis replacement, but the twist will be that it'll be a shorter deal. I don't believe the talk that last year's free agency dip was a one-year thing. I think the second tier of veterans again will struggle to get those long-term deals, so I'll put Brantley down for a two-year, $32 million deal. What's your call?

BEN: It sounds like the Braves are pushing hard for Brantley, so they're my prediction, too. As you said, they need a Markakis replacement. Brantley played his college ball at Coastal Carolina University, which isn't too far from Atlanta. While he's been a bit injury-prone, he's still just 31 years old. I'll say he gets three years, $45 million.

Editor's note: This week across the NBC Sports Regional Networks, we'll be taking an in-depth look at some of the top free agents in baseball. Tuesday is dedicated to free agent outfielder Michael Brantley.
How Brantley could help solve one of the Giants' biggest issues
Why the outfielder-rich A's should pass on Brantley
Does Brantley really fit the White Sox's long-term plan?
Brantley should be far down on Red Sox's free agent list
Phillies should pursue Brantley if they whiff on Harper
Could signing Brantley soften blow of Nats losing Harper?

MLB rumors: Dodgers interested in outfielders Bryce Harper, A.J. Pollock

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AP

MLB rumors: Dodgers interested in outfielders Bryce Harper, A.J. Pollock

The MLB Winter Meetings came and went. And we're still waiting to find out which team Bryce Harper will call his home. 

We know the rumors Harper would end up in a Giants jersey quickly circulated, but those flames were fanned out quickly once the pattern of Farhan Zaidi came to surface.

The Giants' new president of baseball operations is not in a position to hand out lucrative contracts -- especially ones of such tremendous nature. 

[RELATED: Zaidi making modern approaches to Giants]

That being said, the Dodgers, the Giants' NL West rivals, has been interested in acquiring not only the top free agent outfielder, but A.J. Pollock as well. He's also a wanted free agent. And the guy can straight up play when he's healthy.

Pollock is a career .281 hitter with an All-Star selection and a Gold Glove Award, and he even was in MVP talks in 2015. Yeah -- 2015 A.J. Pollock was such a good A.J. Pollock.

And with his abilities to play in different outfield spots, as Ken Rosenthal writes, and obviously at a cheaper price tag, Pollock actually is a more tantalizing free agent than Harper in that case. 

The latest rumors circulating around L.A. sings the normal tune of we need to clear some space and some salary. That goes without saying, but it also has a lot to do with possibly letting go of Yasiel Puig.

That's another article.

For now, it's strange to see the Giants starving for outfielders and not making any drastic moves. The current outfield situation is filled with young names, which means not a ton of experience.

The team's latest signing in Mike Gerber has most Giants fans praying that he turns out to be the next Max Muncy.

We have to wait to see if that'll happen, but the team, along with the 29 others, just want Harper, and Manny Machado, to make a decision already. 

If you're impatient, like me, some odds have been made in order to make the waiting game a little more fun:

San Francisco is listed in there, of course, but don't get your hopes up -- it's not in the characteristics of Zaidi, who appears to be on the path of cheaper players and short-term contracts.

But ...

That means he has his eyes open for some diamonds in the rough -- hopefully. 

Bruce Bochy ready to embrace platoons with more versatile Giants roster

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USA TODAY Sports

Bruce Bochy ready to embrace platoons with more versatile Giants roster

SAN FRANCISCO -- The first question to Bruce Bochy during his media session at last week's MLB Winter Meetings was about the use of openers.

It's a question Bochy likely will be asked quite a bit in 2019, because his new boss has made it clear the Giants will be creative with their pitching staff, but another theme from president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi's own sessions with the media will be much more important to the manager. 

Zaidi repeatedly talked about his desire to use platoons -- even noting that the Dodgers essentially had different full lineups for lefties and righties -- and Bochy is fully on board.

Bochy was on the other side of the equation last year when the Dodgers mixed-and-matched their way to another NL West title, and he's ready to have a few more options with the Giants in 2019. 

"I really believe in platooning when it's the right situation, I do," Bochy said on the latest episode of The Giants Insider Podcast. "Why not? It makes sense when the splits are that significant on a certain hitter. If you can get the right player (off) the bench, now you're getting everybody involved, you're resting guys, you're getting a better matchup. All these things make it easier for me."

Bochy always has used platoons with his own teams, especially with young players. On the current roster, it took Brandon Belt in particular a long time to gain his manager's trust against left-handed pitchers. But the last couple of seasons, the Giants simply haven't had the depth to truly embrace platoon life.

Zaidi's main focus early in the offseason has been adding depth and talent to the 40-man roster, giving his manager the ability to mix it up and give guys a break against tough matchups. 

Zaidi already has said he would like a platoon partner for outfielder Steven Duggar, and second baseman Joe Panik could find himself splitting time with a right-handed hitter. Others on the roster have splits that lend themselves to scheduled off days. Belt's OPS was about 200 points lower against lefties than righties last year, which could lead to Buster Posey getting more starts at first base against lefties. Even Posey's OPS dropped over 100 points against righties, and Evan Longoria had a notable drop-off. 

Switch-hitters Pablo Sandoval and Alen Hanson were virtually unplayable against left-handed pitchers, but both mashed right-handers, and that could lead to increased time for them next season. Sandoval had a .816 OPS against righties and Hanson was at .781 with all eight of his homers. 

Could you see Sandoval at third base more often against tough right-handed starters? Hanson in left field on those days? Zaidi hopes to give Bochy additional options. 

"We didn't quite have the depth sometimes to give a guy a break, but I know that's something he likes," Bochy said of Zaidi. "He likes versatility, and I agree. You've seen us move guys around, but to have a guy that's a good athlete -- to the point where he can play second and short and play the outfield -- those guys are invaluable for a team during the course of a season."

You can download The Giants Insider Podcast on iTunes. Bochy discussed openers, platoons, Posey's injury issues, Madison Bumgarner playing first base (seriously), his own future and more.