3 best SF Giants backup plans with Cody Bellinger off the market

The San Francisco Giants couldn't land Cody Bellinger, but other appealing options remain.

Blake Snell, San Diego Padres
Blake Snell, San Diego Padres / Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/GettyImages
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The San Francisco Giants were floated early and often as a potential favorite to pry Cody Bellinger away from the Chicago Cubs in free agency. In the end, Bellinger's market flatlined and he returned to Chicago on a three-year, $80 million deal that gives him all the leverage over a short timeframe.

While it stings for the Giants, other options remain. It has been a busy offseason for Pete Putila and the San Francisco front office. Jung Hoo Lee was added in Bellinger's traditional position of centerfield, while the pitching staff looks drastically better with Robbie Ray and Jordan Hicks on the payroll. The Giants even landed All-Star DH Jorge Soler to anchor the middle of the lineup.

After the 2023 season got away from Gabe Kapler, longtime MLB manager Bob Melvin has been brought in to right the ship. He offers a level of experience and stability the Giants lacked under Kapler. Plus, he has relationships the league over, which could prove helpful in future trade and free-agent negotiations.

As the Giants strive to keep the Dodgers and Diamondbacks within reach in the daunting NL West, here are a few additions the team can pursue in lieu of Bellinger.

3. Giants can take flier on Adalberto Mondesi

The Giants need reinforcements at shortstop, where rookie Marco Luciano is currently projected to start. There isn't a ton of established talent left at the position in free agency, but San Francisco can pivot from courting an expensive headliner in Bellinger to a more affordable, marginal contributor in Adalberto Mondesi.

In terms of raw talent, Mondesi absolutely flashes enough to operate as the Giants' everyday starter at short. The problem is health. Mondesi, 28, has lost almost all of the last two seasons to an ACL tear. He has additional injury history with his groin, hamstring, and shoulders — the latter requiring surgery. He was with the Boston Red Sox last season, but Mondesi did not play. He rehabbed.

There's essentially no way for San Francisco to know what it's getting here. Not with any certainty. Mondesi was a regular thief on the base paths before the injury, but a major knee ailment can sap away all explosiveness. He hangs his hat on power at the plate (38 home runs in 1,273 career AB), but he also strikes out a bunch. After two years of arduous injury management, betting on Mondesi's offense returning to form is a risky proposition. It's much easier to project regression.

That said, the Giants can afford to let Mondesi get right, potentially spending some time in the minors. Veteran Nick Ahmed is in the mix at shortstop, too, but San Francisco really doesn't have a reliable option at the position. This is an upside swing, but one that could pay dividends if Mondesi can finally string together some healthy games.