Giants face decisions at non-tender deadline

How will Giants fill gap in left field?

Giants face decisions at non-tender deadline
December 2, 2013, 12:00 pm
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Brandon Belt, who finished 14th in the NL with an .841 OPS, stands to get a hefty raise from the $531,500 he made last season. (AP)

Programming note: Get up to date on all the latest offseason Giants news on the Hot Stove Show, Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO – There’s always a flurry of activity and discussion leading up to the non-tender date, and this year is no exception.

The Giants must tender contracts to players with less than six years of service time by 9 p.m. PST Monday or allow them to become free agents. Generally, the only players who aren’t tendered are arbitration-eligible guys deemed too expensive to keep or not worth the salaries they would command.

The Giants have five arbitration-eligible players: First baseman Brandon Belt, infielder Joaquin Arias, infielder Tony Abreu, outfielder Gregor Blanco and right-hander Yusmeiro Petit.

The only one of those five that could be cut loose is Abreu, who couldn’t stay on the field last season because of knee issues. The Giants spent most of the year coaxing him along, hoping he could be a threat off the bench and win a larger role on the club. It never materialized, as the 29-year-old switch-hitter batted .268/.301/.442 with two home runs in 53 games (138 at-bats).

Abreu made barely over the league minimum last year and doesn’t have the career numbers to warrant a big salary as a first-year arbitration guy. So it’s not like he’d be expensive to keep.

But the Giants must free up a 40-man roster spot by Wednesday, when Ryan Vogelsong’s one-year contract is expected to be finalized. The Giants also have coverage with infielder Ehire Adrianza, who had a nice showing as a September call-up and will be out of minor league options next spring.

You can bet the Giants have made a few calls to gauge trade interest in Abreu. You can also bet that they’ve scanned the market to get the jump on potential non-tenders from other clubs.

It's not like the non-tender deadline yields a huge crop of new free agents, but there are usually a few interesting names that become available every year. 

The Giants also have to finalize a destination for outfielder Francisco Peguero, who was designated for assignment along with catcher Johnny Monell on Wednesday. The Giants already traded Monell to the Baltimore Orioles for cash considerations. (I’ve never understood why you need to add the word “considerations.” Isn’t cash explanatory enough?)

As for the Giants’ other four arbitration-eligible players, you can bet they will tender contracts to Belt, Blanco and Petit. There’s no reason to believe they won’t do the same with Arias.

Belt, who finished 14th in the NL with an .841 OPS, stands to get a hefty raise from the $531,500 he made last season. To put Belt’s OPS in perspective, it was higher than players like Carlos Beltran, Jay Bruce, Yadier Molina, Justin Upton, Adrian Gonzalez, and yes, Hunter Pence and Buster Posey, too.

Expect Belt to receive a salary in the $2-3 million range, with the likelihood that a multiyear deal will be discussed in the spring.