Dan Uggla

Finding Burrell: 10 veterans who could end up on the Giants someday

I went swimming for the first time in ages yesterday, and when I got to my car and turned on my phone I felt like kicking myself. Of course the Giants had announced the signing of Dan Uggla to a minor league contract while I was in the pool. Against my better judgment, I had taken the lazy route over the weekend and refrained from writing a preparatory piece on the subject — even though I knew there was a 90% chance the Giants would sign him after Sunday’s 3-2 loss, a game where the bottom four guys in the lineup went 0-for-13.

It was predictable, like a lot of Giants signings. They like veterans with power, but they don’t want to spend top dollar on guys they don’t know and trust. So if there’s an opportunity to sign someone to a minor league deal who’s been a home run hitter in the past, why not take a shot?

This story isn’t about teasing the Giants. Well, maybe a little … but it’s more about providing a service. It’s nice to prepare yourself for who to root for in 2015, 2016 or 2017, depending on when the following veterans become free agents or get released. I guess I could’ve gone through and picked a few past-their-prime utility infielders (Mark Ellis types) who the Giants might go after, but I focused on power guys because 1) it helped narrow my search and 2) unlike speed, a player’s power doesn’t necessarily vanish in his mid-30s.

Here are 10 players I can see Brian Sabean adding over the next few seasons. Get excited!

Player: Michael Cuddyer
Age: 35
Team: Rockies
Free agent eligible: 2015
Résumé: 32 HR in 2009; 20 HR last year; 182 HR in his career
Notes: Rockies reportedly want to re-sign him; if he gets a multiyear deal in Colorado, this would probably have to be an overpay-and-release kind of addition for the Giants (say around June 2016)

Player: Kendrys Morales
Age: 31
Team: Twins
Free agent eligible: 2015
Résumé: Averages 25 home runs hit per 162 games for his career
Notes: Only one home run this year, but road splits (.256/.274/.400) are better than what he’s doing at Target Field (.214/.254/.232)

Player: Aaron Hill
Age: 32
Team: D-Backs
Free agent eligible: 2017
Résumé: 142 home runs; two years removed from 5.0 rWAR season; Giants love aging second basemen
Notes: Making $12M per year in 2015-16, so he’d need to fall off (he’s hitting .250/.284/.372 this year) to the point where Arizona Uggla’d him

Player: Carlos Quentin
Age: 31 (32 in August)
Team: Padres
Free agent eligible: 2016
Résumé: 154 HR; 30 dingers per 162 games
Notes: Super injury-prone; hitting .176; would also need to be Uggla’d

Player: Josh Willingham
Age: 35
Team: Twins
Free agent eligible: 2015
Résumé: 190 HR, 28 dingers per 162 games
Notes: Hitting only .211 over the past two years and isn’t much on defense, but he walks a ton and the Giants don’t mind sticking minus defenders in left field

Player: J.J. Hardy
Age: 31 (32 in August)
Team: Orioles
Free agent eligible: 2015
Résumé: Five 20-HR seasons
Notes: Still a couple years until the Giants are interested, as Hardy is still a shortstop and hitting pretty well (check back in 2017-18)

Player: Corey Hart
Age: 32
Team: Mariners
Free agent eligible: 2015
Résumé: Two 30-HR seasons; five 20-HR seasons; two 20-20 seasons
Notes: Numbers have really fallen off in Seattle (.213/.291/.337), so Hart is a likely candidate to replace Michael Morse next year

Player: Rickie Weeks
Age: 31 (32 in September)
Team: Brewers
Free agent eligible: 2015
Résumé: 143 HR, 125 SB
Notes: Play has really fallen off over the last three years; just 28 starts this year; on the other hand, he’s an aging, name brand second baseman

Player: Nick Swisher
Age: 33
Team: Indians
Free agent eligible: 2017
Résumé: 239 HR; would appeal to the Giants as a great “clubhouse guy”
Notes: Definite Uggla potential here, in that he has $30M coming to him AFTER this season and he’s hitting .207/.285/.344; he’s been a 1B/DH in 2014, which might hurt his cause as far as the Giants are concerned

Player: Mark Reynolds
Age: 30 (31 in two weeks)
Team: Brewers
Free agent eligible: 2015
Résumé: 216 HR
Notes: He strikes out a ton and isn’t exactly Brooks Robinson out there, but he’s a potential cheap replacement for Pablo Sandoval

In a few years I’ll go back and see how many of these players ended up in San Francisco. That is, unless none of them did, in which case I’ll probably delete this story.

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