Well, it’s happened. After driving up the cost for the Giants to re-sign Aubrey Huff, the Los Angeles Dodgers went and signed shortstop Juan Uribe away from the San Francisco Giants.
Uribe agreed to a three-year deal for a reported $21 million with the Dodgers on Monday. He’ll likely play second base for the Dodgers in 2011.
When More Splash Hits began seeing reports that the Dodgers were willing to offer a third year, we knew the party was just about over for the Giants retaining Uribe.
The reported $21 million deal is quite a haul for a player who played two years with the Giants (earning $1 million and $3.25 million) and arrived in camp as a utility player. Uribe played himself into an everyday player in 2010.
If there’s any good news, it’s that the Giants offered Uribe arbitration, which will garner the Giants a sandwich pick in next June’s draft.
Losing Uribe hurts. Losing him to the Dodgers hurts more. Oh, and Opening Day 2011 for the Giants: April 1 at Los Angeles. No fooling.
The San Francisco Giants’ pursuit to bring Juan Uribe back into fold seems to have taken an interesting twist over the weekend.
Last week, the Giants re-signed Aubrey Huff for two years, $22 million. And the Giants said they matched a deal offered by another team to get that deal done.
Word has come in over the weekend that the “other team” was the Los Angeles Dodgers, who could have plugged Huff at first base and non-tendered or traded James Loney. They also could have started Huff in LF.
And now comes word that the Dodgers are going hot and heavy after another Giants free agent — Juan Uribe.
The Dodgers would look to plug Uribe at 2B, where non-tender candidate Ryan Theriot is currently playing. So the question is whether or not the Dodgers turn up the heat to sign Uribe before Thursday’s non-tender deadline. Or maybe they’ve already made the decision to non-tender Theriot.
It might be time for the Giants to get Uribe signed to a two-year deal in the ballpark of $16 million. The Giants would deeply miss his bat in the lineup, and it would make it worse to lose him to the freakin’ Dodgers.
And the Giants need to start thinking not just about 2011, but about 2012. Here are a list of current Giants who will be eligible for free agency after the 2011 season: 2B Freddy Sanchez, IF-OF Mark DeRosa, OF Andres Torres, OF Cody Ross, RP Jeremy Affeldt, SP Jonathan Sanchez.
If the Giants don’t sign Uribe to a multi-year deal, they’ll likely replace him with a player on a one-year deal (either signing a free agent to a one-year deal, or trading for someone who will be eligible for free agency after 2011).
So C’mon Giants. Let’s get this done. The alternatives are not good.
Now, that the Giants have secured Aubrey Huff to a new two-year contract, the next hole to fill on the roster is a starting shortstop.
Giants general manager Brian Sabean said talks with the agent of Juan Uribe are “active,” but also added the two sides were not “talking the same language yet, as far as ballpark figures.”
Translation? The Uribe camp wants more years and/or dollars than the Giants are willing to offer. At least, for now.
So now Uribe is looking to see what other teams will offer.
To date, the Cardinals have appeared to be the more aggressive suitors for Uribe. The Astros and Dodgers are also rumored to have interest, and we’d expect the Padres to get involved.
The Dodgers’ interest is curious. They have SS Rafael Furcal under contract for $12 million for 2011. 3B Casey Blake is on the hook for more than $5 million. But they could have a place for Uribe at 2B if they opt to non-tender Ryan Theriot.
So if the Giants don’t re-sign Uribe, what are the other options at SS?
A TRADE: The Giants have been linked to players who might be available via trade — the Royals’ Yuniesky Betancourt, the Rays’ Jason Bartlett and the Red Sox’s Marco Scutaro. If the Giants are going to replace Uribe with a player with lesser offensive skills (and all three would fit that bill), then at least you would hope the Giants would get a player with better defensive skills. According to FanGraphs UZR ratings (ultimate zone ratings) for defense, all three players rate below Uribe for defense. In fact, Betancourt ranked 62nd and Bartlett was 64th in UZR for the 64 shortstops with more than 100 innings at the position in 2010. These aren’t players worth trading for. The Giants also have been linked with trade talk involving Arizona’s Stephen Drew and the Mets’ Jose Reyes. First, these teams aren’t trading these players. And if by some unforseen change of heart, if these teams did shop these players, the price for them would be out of the Giants’ price range for talent. In other words, forget about Drew or Reyes.
IN-FRANCHISE OPTIONS: The Giants have Emmanuel Burriss, Ryan Rohlinger and Brandon Crawford as shortstops in the organization. Burriss was the opening day 2B for the Giants in 2009. But first he struggled to hit, then had his season ended by a midseason foot injury. He re-injured the foot last spring and did not return to playing until late in the 2010 season. So he enters the 2011 season on, forgive the pun, on uneven footing. Rohlinger has been up for a cup of coffee in each of the past three seasons and never hit better than .200. He did .311 for Triple-A Fresno in 2010. Crawford is said to have a major-league glove, but his bat is lagging. He hit .236 between Class A and AA in 2010. None inspire confidence.
FREE AGENTS: The class of shorstops is lean this offseason. Among the free agents with a better UZR ranking than Uribe are Cesar Izturis (10th), Jerry Hairston Jr. (15th) and Orlando Cabrera (18th). Uribe ranks (23rd). The Giants are also said to have interest in Miguel Tejada, who opened the season playing 3B for Baltimore and finished it playing SS for San Diego. At 36 with dimishing defensive skills, Tejada should only be a late alternative. And while we’re at it, can we forget about Derek Jeter? There’s a lot of posturing going on between the Yanks and Jeter’s agent, but that’s all it is. The Yankees know no other team will offer Jeter what they will offer. And there’s no way Jeter signs with a another team for $3-$5 million less per season than what the Yanks are offering just to spite the Yankees.
NON-TENDERS: Teams have until Thursday (Dec. 2) to tender contracts for players under team control for 2011. There may be some players who could become available if they are non-tendered. Topping the list of possibility is the J.J. Hardy, whose UZR is 5th in the majors. However, word has it that the Twins will tender Hardy a contract, even though they made a bid on Japanese shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who the Twins are looking at to play 2B.
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Tuesday (Nov. 23) is the deadline for teams to offer salary
arbitration to free agents in order to preserve their right to draft-pick
Two of the Giants’ free agents – Aubrey Huff and Juan Uribe –
are Type B free agents. That means if the Giants offer either player salary
arbitration for 2011, and the player declines arbitration, the Giants would
receive a so-called sandwich pick between the first and second rounds in next
June’s first-year player draft if the player signs with another team.
With both Huff and Uribe seeking multi-year deals in free
agency and with the Giants interested in bringing both players back for at least
2011, it stands to reason the Giants will offer arbitration to both. It also
stands to reason both will decline.
But stranger things have happened. We figured Bengie Molina
and the Giants were in a similar situation last year, and the Giants didn’t
offer arbitration. The move ended up paying off, as the Giants re-signed Molina
for a discounted one-year deal.
The process is somewhat of a gamble, as teams are often
reluctant to offer arbitration because they don’t want to lose cost control
over player contracts. But with Huff and Uribe, the move seems worth the risk.