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SF Giants linked to Nick Castellanos at MLB Winter Meetings

SAN DIEGO — After an unusually quiet winter, the Giants spent the first days of spring training as one of the leading suitors for free agent slugger Bryce Harper.

The team’s pursuit of Harper didn’t appear to mesh with the otherwise understated offseason approach, but the power-hitting outfielder wasn’t a typical free agent.

At 26 years old, Harper was one of the youngest superstars to ever hit free agency. Even if the Giants understood they would have trouble competing in the near future, they viewed Harper as the type of hitter who would still be in his prime when the club was prepared to battle for its next division title.

This offseason, the Giants are again expected to let the top free agents sign mega-deals with other clubs. They weren’t in on either Stephen Strasburg or Zack Wheeler and they don’t seem keen on ponying up $300 million for the most coveted free agent, Gerrit Cole.

Neither Anthony Rendon nor Josh Donaldson make sense on the position player side and for the most part, the Giants haven’t been linked to top free agent hitters.

The Giants may not feel compelled to make a big splash this winter, but if they do, multiple reports indicate outfielder Nicholas Castellanos could be their top target. After MLB Network’s Jon Morosi mentioned the Giants as a possible landing spot for Castellanos last week, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal said one team interested in the outfielder views the Giants as “the top bidder.”

Aren’t the Giants focused less on winning now and more on creating a sustainable, long-term plan of success?

That’s what president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi indicated on Monday, but doing so wouldn’t necessarily preclude the Giants from signing Castellanos.

At 27, the former Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs outfielder is one of the youngest free agents available and like Harper, a player who could still be of value when the Giants are ready to contend again. Due to his midseason trade from Detroit to Chicago that prevented Castellanos from receiving a qualifying offer, signing him wouldn’t cost the Giants a draft choice, either.

Despite playing below average defense throughout his career, Castellanos could theoretically become a fit in left field for the Giants where the organization has consistently trotted out subpar defenders who haven’t provided nearly as much offense. And with the designated hitter potentially coming to the National League within the next few seasons, it’s possible Castellanos wouldn’t be needed in the field by the end of a four or five-year contract.

The Giants might not be quiet after all this winter. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group) 

When the Giants were prepared to sign Harper to a contract in excess of $300 million last offseason, they justified it by noting his career .900 OPS and his sustainable hitting profile that’s allowed him to become an on-base percentage machine.

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