DALLAS -- The Giants completed a trade Wednesday that sends outfielder Andres Torres and right-hander Ramon Ramirez to the New York Mets for outfielder Angel Pagan.The transaction represents San Francisco's first trade at baseball's Winter Meetings since 2005 and fills the Giants' need for an additional outfielder. Melky Cabrera, acquired last month from Kansas City, is a virtual lock to start at one spot, while Nate Schierholtz appears to have the inside track in right field. Pagan's presence also could intensify competition -- not just possibly in the outfield, but also at first base, where Brandon Belt and Aubrey Huff, who had been projected as potential left fielders, would vie for playing time. Pagan's arrival ends the Giants' efforts to retain free agent Carlos Beltran, the only legitimate power threat among the team's outfielders last season after he was obtained from the Mets on July 28. Given the Giants' lack of payroll flexibility and Beltran's probable demand for an eight-figure average annual salary, they seemed to have little or no chance of signing him anyway. Pagan likely would hit at or near the top of the order. Though he batted fifth in 56 games last year, he's not a classic middle-of-the-lineup hitter, having accumulated 18 home runs and 125 RBIs in the previous two seasons. "The options [to acquire a proverbial big bat] aren't there because of our lack of financial flexibility," Giants general manager Brian Sabean said. Pagan, 30, is a somewhat more consistent version of Torres -- a switch-hitter who has hit .277 with 69 stolen bases while playing mostly regularly for the last two seasons. Pagan played exclusively center field in 121 games for the Mets last season but has occupied all three spots during his six-year Major League career. Ramirez, 30, has been prominently mentioned in trade speculation involving the Giants. He was among their top setup relievers last season, finishing 3-3 with a 2.62 ERA in 66 appearances. His credentials included 66 strikeouts in 68 2/3 innings. Ramirez also excelled down the stretch during the Giants' march to the postseason and, ultimately, the World Series conquest in 2010. He went 1-0 with an 0.67 ERA -- two earned runs allowed in 27 innings -- spanning 25 outings. Torres, 33, became a fan favorite during his three-year Giants stint with his effervescent attitude, his compelling battle with ADHD and, naturally, his performance. He hit .268 with 16 homers, 63 RBIs and 26 stolen bases in 2010. But Torres slumped last season as he hit .221 with four homers and 19 RBIs in 112 games. An upbeat Torres expressed gratitude for the support he received from the Giants organization, which gave him his first extended Major League activity after he spent most of 11 seasons in the Minors, and the public.
"I want to thank the fans for all their support," said Torres, winner of the 2010 Willie Mac Award as the team's most inspirational player. "Even when I was going bad, they cheered for me. ... I'm never going to forget San Francisco."Acknowledging that his hitting mechanics were flawed last season, Torres has been attempting to regain his stroke by working with former Rangers slugger Juan Gonzalez, the two-time American League Most Valuable Player. "He gave me some good tips," Torres said. "... I'm going to miss everybody there, but in this game you have to move forward. I'm happy that the Mets are giving me the opportunity." The deal will trim the Giants' list of contractual chores ever so slightly, since Torres and Ramirez were part of the club's huge contingent of 13 players eligible for salary arbitration. Sabean had repeated that the Giants were weighing whether to offer them salary arbitration by Monday's deadline. But Pagan, who earned $3.5 million last season, also is arbitration-eligible. Financially, the Giants and Mets probably will break even. Like Cabrera, Pagan can become a free agent after next season. Sabean, who has typically resisted acquiring such players, indicated Monday that this would no longer be a deterrent.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.