SAN FRANCISCO - The Giants are not on track to name a new head of their baseball operations before next week's general manager meetings in Carlsbad, which means it'll be a bit longer before we get a true read on their intentions for 2019.
It remains possible that they'll hire someone who has a background in starting from scratch, and that they'll finally start the partial rebuild that so many fans have been clamoring for. But their history says they'll continue to push with this core, so as free agency kicks off, you can assume they'll be looking to do what they always do. With that in mind, here's an early look at some big names you might be hearing about over the next month …
Last year it was Stanton Watch and then Ohtani Watch. This year, get ready for Harper Watch. The Giants have long had him circled, and at the very least, you can expect them to push for a meeting. They may not end up with Harper, but this is a franchise that repeatedly gets to the final rounds of bidding with top free agents. Harper and Manny Machado are at the top of this class, but with Brandon Crawford and Evan Longoria locked into long-term deals, Machado isn't a fit.
The Giants do not have a good history with oft-injured outfielders in their 30s. But … they also don't have appealing options in the outfield. Brantley, 32, had a .832 OPS and 17 homers for the Indians in 2018. Most importantly, he had a .364 OBP. The Giants were second-to-last in the NL with a team OBP of .300.
Speaking of free-agent outfielders, the Giants know Pollock well. He hit 21 homers for the Diamondbacks this year, but he turns 31 this offseason and has a long injury history. Pollock is exactly the type of player the old regime targeted. A new boss might feel it's time for a new direction.
The lefty will likely get the qualifying offer, per Jon Heyman of FanCred, which could scare teams off. Keuchel would still make sense in a number of scenarios, though. It's possible the Giants trade a young starter for outfield help, in which case they could use their available free agent money to continue adding to a rotation that has always led the way at AT&T Park.
Keuchel's teammate is a do-everything type who hit 23 homers in 2017 but saw his numbers dip in 2018. He might be the best fit of anyone on this list. Gonzalez, 29, could platoon with Joe Panik at second and spend the rest of his time in the outfield.
He was gone by the end of August but still led the Giants in a lot of hitting categories. McCutchen had interest in coming back and the Giants had interest in bringing him back, and you can expect them to make a call to the player they shipped off to the Yankees. There's an element of "running the same thing back" here, but McCutchen wasn't to blame for the 2018 season, and he would again give the Giants a legitimate hitter in right field.
He had a .297/.366/.440 slash line for the surprising Braves, but he turns 35 in a few weeks. That will limit his market, and perhaps he'll be available on a short-term deal that wouldn't hamper a Giants team that's committed far too much money beyond 2019. There's a theme here: This team needs to look at any and all available outfielders.
You could also go with Andrew Miller here, or any number of free-agent relievers. The Giants still could use help in the late innings, and if they miss out on the big fish, the easiest way to make sure they're in contention through the first half might be to build up a bullpen that can support Madison Bumgarner, Dereck Rodriguez, Andrew Suarez and the rest. They would be smart to add to their bullpen regardless. Relievers are the most easily traded assets at the deadline, and the Giants have the money to load up on them every winter.
He was awful for the Dodgers, but the Giants have always liked him, and even in a down year, he hit 21 homers. The Giants have not committed to Panik yet, so they may be looking for help at second base, and Dozier shouldn't cost much.