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Comments and Notes from the 2011 Winter Meetings in Dallas

Several notes and comments about the 2012 Baseball Winter Meetings being held Monday through Thursday this week in Dallas, Texas.

As reported in MLBTradeRumorsDanny Knobler of CBSSports.com tweeted from Dallas that the Giants are actively seeking to trade second baseman Jeff Keppinger, outfielder Andres Torres, and relief pitcher Ramon Ramirez

Keppinger was signed to a one year deal in 2011 by the Astros for $2.3 million. No doubt he is seeking a starting job at second, which the Giants can’t provide with Freddy Sanchez returning on Opening Day. Keppinger is arbitration-eligible and will be a free agent in 2013 if he doesn’t sign a multi-year deal somewhere. This is a double play for the front office since San Francisco is also looking to dump/transfer salary on their roster.

Andres Torres’ terrible 2011 season (.221AVG/.312OBP/.643OPS) was one of the major reasons the Giants did not reach the playoffs. The team apparently believes he will not recapture his 2010 form at the plate. I thought Torres would simply be released this off season, and that may happen if the Giants cannot work out a deal in the next week or so. He could also be non-tendered and resigned for much less money, but why?

Ramirez is also arbitration-eligible and would likely push the salary envelope at $2.5 million. This is another case of salary transfer and several young arms ready to move up from the Minors. CBS’s Knobler noted that the Giants are planning to keep lefty reliever Jeremy Affeldt, who could be a back-up closer if Brian Wilson has further injury issues.

These moves could be a final restructuring of the 2012 payroll spreadsheet, signaling that San Francisco is truly done adding to the 25 man roster. Or it could be the prelude to one more high profile signing, either a starting shortstop or that elusive other impact bat in the outfield.

The recent announcement that Aubrey Huff would be starting in left field (and coming out of games in late innings much like Pat Burrell did in 2010), opens the Giants’ first base position to two speculations: Brandon Belt will finally get a starting position on the field and in the line-up, or the Giants have a surprise candidate in mind to play first.