Earlier this week, Bobby Evans and the San Francisco Giants declined a $5.5 million option for Nori Aoki. Aoki did have a decent season with the Giants in 2015, posting a .326 wOBA and a wRC+ of 112 in 392 plate appearances according to Fangraphs. Age and injury history is not on his side, being 33 and suffering a season-ending concussion at the end of the 2015.
As a replacement, San Francisco could add a quality outfielder via free agency with Dexter Fowler, Jason Heyward, Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Gordon and a plethora of other options on the market. Some of these free agent signings would require the Giants to give up their 1st round pick, while others will be commanding interest from other big market, big budget teams. Instead of looking to the Free Agent market, maybe the Giants should trade to fill their hole in LF.
Typically speaking, trading for talent can be cheaper than building through free agency. The Giants can guarantee a MLB ready player for much less cost than signing one in the offseason. They would also not have to worry about over paying for a player, whether that is by offering more years or more money per year.
What the Rays can offer:
In a trade the Rays would be dealing from an OF that currently has a bit of a logjam, but has some expendable pieces. The only guarantees for the Rays in the outfield are Keirmaier and Souza, which leaves Guyer, Jennings, Mahtook, and Butler. We can probably say that Mahtook is less likely, due to him being the youngest out of the leftovers and has more unseen promise.
Brandon Guyer is a 29 year old outfielder that had and impressive year in 2015. Mainly used as a 3rd/4th outfielder, he racked up a .342 wOBA and a 121 wRC+, good enough for 2.4 WAR according to Fangraphs. He was used more against LHP, posting a 141 wRC+ in 188 AB in 2015 vs 91 wRC+ in 144 AB against RHP. Guyer also stole 10 bases last year, and of course, led the team in HBP with 24. Guyer also excels defensively in the OF, posting a Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) of 3.5 in 724 total innings in the OF.
Joey "He Can Hit" Butler had a surprising 2015. After a red hot May and June, in which Butler posted a 136 wRC+ total, he cooled off and went .202/.268/.292 the rest of the way, good enough for 59 wRC+. Part of his hot start can be contributed to luck on batted balls. Butler had an unsustainable .420 BABIP for May and June, and regressed to a normal .291 by the seasons end. Butler can fake it in the outfield, for what it's worth he tallied a UZR of 1.1 in 216.1 innings, but I'm not sure if a National League team would want to take that risk.
Desmond Jennings' 2015 was disappointing to say the least. After a putrid start, he was sent to the DL for his nagging knee issue. When he was able to play, he wasn't bad but he also wasn't great. He slashed .268/.324/.340 in 108 PA, which is good enough for a .294 wOBA and 87 wRC+. Even though this season was disappointing, Jennings has proved his worth in past seasons.
From 2011 to 2014, Jennings accumulated 12.0 total fWAR, which places him in the top 25 OF in the MLB during that time. If the Rays can persuade the Giants that DJ is healthy and ready to contribute, simply in need of getting off the fake turf, then a great deal could be struck for both teams.
Moving forward, if the Rays are going to deal from their outfield, it is likely going to be either Jennings (need) or Guyer (hype), but not both. Each have a detriment in that Guyer was a rather effective platoon player but still rode the bench, while Jennings has had multiple knee injuries and gives the Rays very little leverage in their negotiations.
Still if the Giants are in need of an outfielder, there's two strong candidates on this Rays roster that can fill that void. Up next, I'll try to map out what a trade of either outfielder might look like for these two franchises.