Could Andres Torres return to the Giants this offseason? Well, the thought is interesting. The Mets non-tendered Torres on Friday, making him eligible for free agency.
Fresh off a distasteful 2012 campaign, the level of interest for Torres won’t be incredibly high, to be sure. He fits the bill of a journeyman and will probably find himself wearing a different uniform next year.
Perhaps the Giants swoop in and sign Torres in the later stages of the offseason to fill out their bench. It’s not very likely, but the topic also hasn’t been discussed much.
Why the Giants Should Bring Him Back
As the Giants proved this year, depth is key to assembling a winning crop of players, as all 25 guys on their postseason roster contributed at some point in the journey. So while Torres might not be productive enough to start on a regular basis, he would be a solid asset off the bench. In addition, he can be used in different situations, such as a pinch-runner, defensive replacement, or as a guy who could lead off an inning and get on base. Simply, a utility man.
However, if Torres returned, don’t count out the possibility of him being a starter because Angel Pagan and the Giants aren’t on the same page in negotiations, which has been an ongoing development since they won the World Series in late October.
The situation is quite simple. Given the market’s lack of talented outfielders, Pagan stands a good chance to land a pretty size-able contract at some point this offseason. Whether that will come with the Giants or not is currently unknown.
So, following suit of his fellow free agent outfielders, he’s letting the market take shape. This common procedure advanced a bit further on Wednesday with B.J. Upton’s five-year, $75 contract setting the barometer for all free agent outfielders. The next domino to fall will likely determine Pagan’s faith.
So, Torres could be more then just a depth add if Pagan were to jump ship because the Giants aren’t expected to make any big splashes in upcoming the winter meetings, or in general for that matter. On top of that, Brian Sabean stated that he hasn’t found any trading partners to barter with, nor does he have any interest to improve through trades. Not having a partner and not having the desire are two entirely different things. Sabean could just be blowing smoke here, as he does have some history of keeping his plans away from the media.
Remember, the Giants acquired Pagan and Melky Cabrera in trades last offseason. I would say that both of those additions deserve plaudits, even in spite of Cabrera’s suspension. While it would be easy to see why Sabean would attempt to take that route this offseason, it appears also easy to see why teams would be hesitant to deal with Sabean, specifically the Royals.
Given his track record, Torres would be a last resort type signing for the Giants. The offseason is far from over, and it’s likely that Sabean would explore all of his alternative options before turning to Torres, who probably wouldn’t draw much interest on the open market, anyway. But Torres would bring depth and potentially more to the Giants’ roster. More importantly, he wouldn’t break the bank.
Why This Won’t Happen
While reuniting with Torres would be nothing short of bittersweet, the Giants have a lengthy list of reasons that outweigh the positive sanity
After posting a slash of .268/.343/.479 with a .823 OPS in 2010 with the Giants, he didn’t have much of an encore season in 2011. Granted, an encore wasn’t exactly an expectation for the journeyman Torres, who had never played more than 100 games with any team prior to 2010. But some type of production was expected, and Torres didn’t deliver the goods.
Plagued by injuries, he compiled a meek .643 OPS which is nearly a 200 point drop-off from his 2010 output. The Giants ended up shipping him and Ramon Ramirez to the New York Mets for Angel Pagan, where he brought more of the same habits.
With the Mets, he posted a mere .664 OPS, and struck out 90 times in 374 at-bats. Yes, I know, very alarming for such few at-bats. Now, don’t get me wrong, the Giants’ roster consists of plenty of free-swinging bats. Just look at Pablo Sandoval or Hector Sanchez for a pair of examples. While this swinging and missing type approach would fit in with the Giants, who had a 33 percent O-Swing percentage in 2012 (3rd highest in baseball), his tendency to strikeout wouldn’t bode him well on a Giants’ team that prided themselves on making contact.
That said approach paid dividends for the G-Men. It wasn’t the long ball that won them a title, it was an 81.4 contact rate in the regular season that continued into the playoffs. Possibly a passing whim at first, but now putting the ball in play is a newly revived strategy thanks to the Giants. Some pundits called their weak dribblers that resulted in hits luck, but that’s what putting the ball in play does for you.
So back to the original point, the Giants would essentially get more of what they already have in Gregor Blanco, but with more injuries. For reference, the speedy Blanco struck out 104 times in just 393 at-bats. Blanco does have a case for his bleak strikeout rate, though. His defending case could fall something along the lines of the fact that he didn’t have much consistency to keep his bat warm. Although, it’s still a number that raises some eyebrows.
So the question boils down to this: do the Giants need another Gregor Blanco?
The answer is no until Blanco displays some sort of consistency. Therefore, they should pass on the veteran Torres. Short and sweet.