But is Tim Lincecum too high a price to pay?
The Giants front office is torn over that question, and two days into the winter meetings, general manager Brian Sabean made it clear the points and counterpoints were still being tossed around the club's suite.
Sabean said only one team remained in play to acquire either Lincecum or Matt Cain. Sources confirmed that the Blue Jays were that team.
"It's intriguing, but not enough to pull the trigger," Sabean said. "There are things we've shut off and things we've kept alive. That's something we've kept alive."
Sabean met with Blue Jays officials again on Tuesday to refine the structure of a deal. While Toronto is pushing to include infielder Troy Glaus and his unattractive contract, the Giants told the Blue Jays that they aren't interested.
The Giants are seeking an improved proposal, and catching prospect Robinzon Diaz, catcher/first baseman Curtis Thigpen and right-hander Brett Cecil are among the quality pieces the Blue Jays might agree to move. Cecil, a hard-throwing reliever, was a 2007 draftee and would be included as a player to be named.
The Giants are far from committed to getting something done, though. They are conflicted because they understand the value
But they also place a high value on Rios, a five-tool talent who won't be a free agent until 2010. The 26-year-old has been an All-Star each of the last two seasons; he hit .297 with 24 home runs and 85 RBI while playing in 161 of 162 games. He has a terrific arm, plays an athletic right field and runs the bases very well.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy managed Rios on an exhibition tour of Japan last year and is said to be enamored with the player.
As a right-handed power hitter, he would be ideal for the middle of the Giants lineup; if the club acquired Rios and made a successful run at free-agent center fielder Andruw Jones, their offense would be transformed both for the short and long term.
Sabean confirmed that he met with Jones' agent, Scott Boras, on Tuesday but described talks as broad.
The Giants would be eager participants if they could sign Jones to a realistic deal, perhaps in the three-year, $50 million range. They would be tempted to up the stakes if the Dodgers get involved, as expected.
For the moment, the Giants' key decision is whether to sacrifice Lincecum, who had among the best pure stuff of any major league pitcher while striking out 150 in 146 innings as a rookie last season.
The Blue Jays like Cain just as much but value the fact that Lincecum will be under club control for an extra year. Also, the Giants are thought to want more for Cain, whom they grade higher in terms of durability and mental makeup.
Giants officials are acting as if they expect to trade a pitcher. They have touched base with the agent for right-hander Carlos Silva. They also met with the agent for Japanese pitcher Hiroki Kuroda but balked at the asking price.
Other teams are asking about left-hander Noah Lowry, but a source said Giants officials have been shocked by low-ball offers and doubt they will trade the 14-game winner.
Club officials quickly dismissed rumors about Seattle first baseman Ben Broussard or free-agent outfielder Shawn Green. The Giants met the agent for Japanese outfielder Kosuke Fukudome, but a club official described it as "tire-kicking."
They certainly want no part of Glaus, who is coming off foot surgery and is a liability at third base. The Giants envision starting Kevin Frandsen at third if they cannot acquire an alternative.
Contact Andrew Baggarly at email@example.com.