Brandon Belt: Brandon Belt has played a few innings of LF in the past and seems like he has the tools to be at least passable out there, if not above average. He certainly has the bat to play there. If he were to make the move, it would open a hole at first base. Buster Posey is the obvious in-house candidate, but Sabes declared at the State of the Giants presser that Buster will be the starting catcher next year. Brett Pill is great guy to root for, but do you really turn 1B over to him? If you would, hasn't Pill actually played more LF than Belt the last 2 seasons?
On the surface, the FA market at 1B looks more promising, but Mike Napoli is going to be expensive and has long term health concerns and the Mariners have declared they are going to slap a QO on Kendrys Morales which makes him a lot less appealing. There is Mark Trumbo on the trade market, but again, the Angels are going to want some serious pitching in return. That leaves IFA Jose Abreu. The Giants seem to be doing some serious tire kicking on him, but the CW has him more likely going to an AL team.
I think most people see Gregor Blanco as more of a 4'th OF. I have to say that is pretty much how I think of him too, but recently something caught my eye that made me re-think that. I think it was someone here made a comment that Blanco's WAR score over the last 2 years is approximately equal to Carlos Beltran's. Wait! What? I decided to look up Blanco's stat sheet on Fangraphs. Sure enough, he had a WAR of 2.3 in 2012 and 2.8 in 2013 while Beltran's 2 year WAR was 5.3, just 0.2 higher than Blanco's 5.1. I decided to look up leaders by WAR and found that in 2013, Blanco's 2.8 was the 28'th highest in MLB. That's right, 28'th highest!
There are 30 teams in Major League Baseball. That means that, base on WAR criteria, there are at least 3 MLB teams on which Gregor Blanco would have been the top OF! Now, there are some caveats to this. WAR is not a perfect measure of value and is dependent on a combination of hitting, fielding, baserunning and position value. Right off the bat, Blanco gets much of his WAR value from defense and he got extra credit for playing CF more than he played LF due to Pagan's injury. On the other hand, before you go looking for a replacement and bump him down to #4, you better be sure you are getting an upgrade. While WAR is not a perfect measurement, it also is not terrible and should be take seriously, especially since his 2 year average is also very respectable suggesting that the 2.9 is not a fluke.
While I am completely on board with the Giants exploring other options for LF this offseason, they could do a lot worse than stand pat with Blanco and possibly a RH hitting platoon partner. Juan Perez anyone?