SAN FRANCISCO — The last team standing in 2012 has been the first one to hit the ground running this offseason.
The Giants, after a disappointing and failed title defense, head into the winter with a pair of items already crossed off the shopping list. The front office pulled a rare move, locking up two priorities — right fielder Hunter Pence and pitcher Tim Lincecum — in the weeks before they were set to test free agency.
Where do the Giants turn next? You can start, even after Lincecum was given a two-year, $35 million deal, with the rotation.
Long dependent on strong starting pitching, the Giants ranked 13th in the National League last season in starters ERA (4.37). In wrapping up the team's 76-86 season, general manager Brian Sabean said upgrading the rotation would be a priority.
"We need to add depth," Sabean said. "I don't know how the market will play out, but we have another starter on the wish list, with or without Timmy."
The top name on wish lists around baseball is Masahiro Tanaka, a 25-year-old Japanese right-hander who went 24-0 in the Japan Pacific League. Rival executives have noted the Giants' increased presence in the international market and expect the club to make a push to bring Tanaka across the Pacific Ocean.
But the Giants are unlikely to win a bidding war that could make Tanaka the most expensive import in MLB history.
The Giants are not enamored with the majority of the free agent pitching class, one reason why they moved quickly to keep Lincecum off the market. But there are options for a team that needs a stopgap until a wave of talented minor leaguers starts arriving in 2015.
Matt Garza, Ervin Santana and Bartolo Colon are among the veteran arms available. One player often tied to the Giants has been Cincinnati Reds right-hander Bronson Arroyo, who had a 3.79 ERA last season and has a 3.27 career ERA at AT&T Park. Arroyo, 36, fueled the fire late in the season.