No, it's not earth-shattering news, in fact it's a move that doesn't really make much sense or significantly impact the team, but there is finally some movement on the Giants' front to talk about. The Giants broke their month-long stretch of inactivity by signing infielder Juan Uribe to a minor league deal, according to SI.com.
The Giants had been linked to Uribe earlier in the off-season as a possible fall-back option at shortstop, but after the signing of Edgar Renteria, it appeared the Uribe interest would go out the window. However, the Giants have been scouring the free-agent market for another utility player and apparently have settled on Uribe as an option. Now, Uribe isn't getting a major league deal, which means he's going to have to show up in Scottsdale and earn himself a roster spot. The 29 year-old brings the versatility to play 2nd and 3rd base in addition to shortstop. He's not a gold-glove caliber defender, but he's very serviceable at all three spots. He also would bring some power potential to the bench if he makes the squad. Uribe averaged 20 home runs a season from '04-'07, but his career OPS of .713 and some off-field issues are the reasons why he's having to settle for a minor league deal.
I'm not really too concerned with this signing for the simple fact it is a minor league deal and having a guy like Uribe in Fresno as insurance isn't a bad thing at all. Now that would change if Uribe ends up taking at-bats away from the younger infielders like Kevin Frandsen, Emmanuel Burriss, Eugenio Velez, or Travis Ishikawa, the players that need to be getting the looks. Also, the Uribe signing likely means the Giants won't bring back the popular Rich Aurilia, there is still a possibility that they'll add another third or first basemen (Joe Crede worked out in AZ yesterday) who they would plan on having start.
The fear I have is that Uribe was signed in mind of having him battle for a starting job rather than an insurance policy, a lot like Jose Castillo was last spring before he ended up at third everyday. Burriss, Frandsen, and Velez should be battling it out for at-bats at second base and unless Uribe's spring blows the others away, he should stay behind those guys on the depth chart. Any playing time, or roster spot that Uribe receives must be earned. Sure, he has the power potential to lead the infield in home runs, but that doesn't help a whole lot if he's hitting .225 and getting on base at less then a 30% rate. If the plan is indeed to stash Uribe down in Fresno until needed than I have no qualms with this move and can actually see the logic in it. The Giants don't have many infielders outside of the guys who are going to be on the roster that are major league ready and could come up and take the place of an infielder if someone goes down.
Giants would have interest in Abreu as they are already set in the outfield and Abreu is on the backside of his career. Ramirez is a game changer and could potentially make the Giants legit contenders in the National League. Abreu is a complimentary player at this point in his career. Now Abreu isn't chopped liver by any means, and I do think his style of hitting would translate well at AT&T Park (he's not a pull happy power hitter). He's almost a sure thing to knock in 100 runs a year and steal around 20 bags while carrying a respectable average and hitting for some power. Not to mention, he could probably be had at bargain price as he'll apparently settle for a 1 year deal. Still though, he doesn't make a ton of sense for this team unless they have something up their sleeve. The only explanation I can come up with is that the Giants may have a plan with one of their current outfielders (Fred Lewis, Randy Winn?) as they could possibly package an outfielder and a pitcher for a young corner infielder, then replace the traded outfielder with Abreu. I highly doubt this rumor has any merit to it, but it's worthy of keeping an eye on.