PHOENIX – The Giants front office is in the process of meeting to set their offseason priorities and develop their lists of potential acquisitions.
Their list is bound to include J.D. Martinez. And his price just went up.
The Giants and Matt Moore got crushed in an 11-4 loss Tuesday night at Chase Field, and Martinez operated the machinery. He had six RBIs by the second inning. His grand slam was the final rose frosting on Moore’s sad cake of a season. He has 44 home runs this season, including an astounding 28 in 58 games since joining the Diamondbacks in a trade from the Detroit Tigers.
He will be the top right-handed power hitter on the free-agent market this season. And while the Giants have multiple vulnerabilities to address, as most teams with a 62-96 record do, a lack of right-handed power probably tops the list.
The Giants have hit the fewest home runs in the major leagues. Their .684 OPS vs. left-handed pitching is the worst in the National League. (OK, so their .688 OPS vs. right-handers ranks last, too.)
They entered the season hoping that Hunter Pence and Buster Posey could provide right-handed thump, with bench players like Nick Hundley, Michael Morse, Justin Ruggiano, Chris Marrero and Aaron Hill perhaps contributing some pop here and there.
Reading that paragraph probably should make you feel sad.
It’s clear by now that the Giants cannot pursue right-handed power from supplemental sources. Not when you look at the sharply diminished slugging percentages from their two most important right-handed regulars.
Posey hit three home runs after the All-Star break last season and everyone freaked out. He has two home runs after the break this year. One of them came in the first game back in San Diego.
And the restorative powers of moving Posey to first base can only go so far. He has played plenty of first base in this second half following Brandon Belt’s season-ending concussion.
Pence and Posey have combined to hit seven home runs at AT&T Park all season. The Padres’ Wil Myers has five.
Martinez, 30, would be an imperfect fit. For starters, he will receive plenty of interest from American League teams that could guarantee him an extra year or two with the comfortable option of a designated hitter to prolong his usefulness. And besides, he graded as one of the worst defensive outfielders in baseball while playing in spacious Comerica Park at the time of the trade. For the Giants, outfield defense has flashed as a shortcoming almost as glaring as right-handed power. (They gave up their 57th triple on Tuesday, their most in a season since 1977, which is only a partial comment on the pitching.)
Also this: The Giants don’t figure to have as much to spend this winter as they did last offseason, when they signed Mark Melancon to a four-year, $62 million contract. They already have more than $150 million committed to the 2018 payroll, and it would make strategic sense to stay below the $197 million Competitive Balance Tax threshold in order to reset the penalties.
But it’s safe to say the Giants won’t ignore the possibility of signing him. They have a reputation for kicking every tire on the lot, and Martinez is a monster truck.
He certainly flattened them Tuesday night.
Nothing about this season has been fun for Moore, who had pitched a bit better in September but will carry the ugliest of performances into the offseason.
Moore retired just four of the 13 batters he faced while giving up eight runs in 1 1/3 innings. His last pitch of his season, to Martinez, ended up on the right field pool deck for a grand slam.
Moore (6-15) finished with a 5.52 ERA, which is the highest ever by a Giants pitcher to make at least 30 starts in a season. It’s also the highest among all qualified NL pitchers this season.
Moore was coming off one of his best starts of the season, when he was buoyed by the news that his $9 million option would be picked up and tossed six shutout innings against the Colorado Rockies.
But if it appeared Moore had begun to build a foundation for next season, it just as quickly sank into a swamp. A misplay from third baseman Orlando Calixte didn’t help, and neither did Moore’s own error. Martinez golfed his slam on a pitch out of the zone, too. Call it penance for the three walks that Moore issued, including free passes to start both of his innings.
Moore did not win consecutive starts all season. But at least he made it through the season healthy.
The Giants “reclaimed” the worst record in baseball and positioned themselves for the first overall pick in the amateur draft next June. They are a half-game behind the Tigers and one game behind the Phillies.
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