Giants want to add power, not sacrifice defense

Giants want to add power, not sacrifice defense

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants will enter the offseason believing that bolstering one of their most traditional strengths may pave a smoother road back than addressing their most glaring shortcoming.

Conventional wisdom dictates that the National League West's last-place club, which ranked last in the Majors this season with 128 home runs, needs to add a power hitter to help it conform to baseball's new home run-hitting norm.

But the Giants might not add a big bat if he can't handle a glove.

"Defense is something we're very concerned about," Giants general manager Bobby Evans said Tuesday at the club's end-of-season press conference. "It's one of the ways to help support our pitching, and we struggled in that area this year. We've seen the trends of the game move toward more and more power, so we have to do everything we can to fight against that from our pitching staff."

Giants pitchers allowed 182 home runs, tied for third-fewest in the Majors. Nevertheless, Evans said, "It still felt like we gave up way too many."

Evans spoke warily of adding "some guys who aren't ready defensively ... We don't want to go too far away from our team. Ultimately, we're a pitching-and-defense team. So if we compromise too much in the area of power and give up too much defensively, that can hurt as much as the benefit of adding the power."

Evans on offseason focus

Statistics suggest that the Giants indeed should be wary about their defense. They finished 28th in the Majors in Defensive Efficiency Ratio.

Whatever void the Giants decide to fill first, they know that standing pat won't work.

Vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean said that the Giants still possess a core of players who can help generate success. "But we also feel that there's needs that have to be addressed," Sabean said. "So we can't come back next season with the same roster and expect different results."

The Giants also hope that they can somehow be a year healthier despite being a year older. Every player from their Opening Day lineup was on the disabled list at some juncture.

"So there virtually was no continuity," Sabean said. "A lot of games were tough to watch from an offensive standpoint because you were going into a game with perhaps three or four established Major League hitters."

Giants fans already have been clamoring for Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins, the current Major League home run king whose new club ownership might not be to afford the remainder of his $325-million contract. Marlins outfielders Christian Yelich or Marcell Ozuna, either of whom would represent an upgrade for the Giants, also could be dealt.

The Giants already have been linked to free-agent center fielder Lorenzo Cain, who isn't a slugger but would improve the outfield by providing considerable range.

Evans had another solution for replenishing the Giants' power supply.

"It may be more at-bats for [Madison] Bumgarner," Evans said, jokingly referring to the active leading home run hitter among pitchers.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.