After adding Evan Longoria, the Giants are eyeing a move for outfielder Jay Bruce, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com (via Twitter). That longstanding connection remains realistic in part because the move for Longoria does not significantly alter the team’s competitive balance tax considerations. The inclusion of Denard Span took care of that consideration and also opened a hole for a left-handed-hitting corner outfielder.
The 30-year-old Bruce would represent a big upgrade in terms of power, as he swatted 36 home runs in 2017, though he has also been in terms of on-base percentage and defensive ratings in recent years. It’s not clear whether San Francisco will be willing to guarantee Bruce four years, per Olney.
Meanwhile, Bruce’s agent, Matt Sosnick, tells KNBR 680’s Gary Radnich and Larry Krueger that his client is trying for a four-year pact and would “be thrilled” to end up in the Giants organization. Sosnick adds that the Astros and Giants were Bruce’s “top two” landing spots, but the Astros have made clear that there’s simply no fit in their organization at present. Sosnick says Bruce has been fielding offers but plans to see “how it shakes out with the Giants” before making any final decision on where to sign. That said, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that there’s no indication the sides are close to a deal at present.
What’s clear, though, is that the Giants organization views the Longoria acquisition as the first of multiple steps in its offseason plan. President Brian Sabean and GM Bobby Evans held a conference call with reporters today (link via KNBR’s Kerry Crowley), voicing a focus on bolstering their lineup — specifically by adding a more well-rounded replacement for Span.
“Our focus in addressing our outfield and our lineup, that remains an important part of our offseason,” said Evans. “It’s a work in progress, there’s no destination for us to speak to right now, we need to wait and see how things play out.”
Sabean, meanwhile, suggested that the Giants now “…hope to add accordingly and we hope it will be as significant of a move as this one.” That the Giants have their eyes on bolstering an offense that ranked last in the Majors with an 83 wRC+ last season and batted just .249/.309/.380 on the season as a whole is hardly a surprise, though their avenues for improvement are a bit more limited now that Longoria is slotted in at the hot corner.
Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik and Brandon Belt figure to round out the infield, with Buster Posey behind the dish and Hunter Pence’s bloated $18MM commitment occupying a corner outfield spot. Certainly, the Giants have room to add at least one outfielder to the mix, with center field standing out as a particularly thin area in terms of MLB-ready options to step into the fray. Bruce wouldn’t fit that bill, though the organization has also been linked to Billy Hamilton in trade rumblings and, speculatively, could pursue a similarly cost-effective/defensive-minded center field option if signing a corner bat is the preferred route.