The San Francisco Giants will have key decisions to make this offseason.
With any World Series team, there are several integral pieces that management must bring back in order to give themselves the best chance to accomplish those same goals next season.
This year's San Francisco Giants are no different as they are looking at four key pieces who they must bring back. Without any of these four players, the Giants run the risk of missing the playoffs in 2013.
The free-agent pickings are slim as they will most likely try to retain their own players rather than look to sign new ones.
Forget about marquee players like Josh Hamilton, Zack Grienke or B.J. Upton.
There's a higher chance of you finding a Twinkie at your local supermarket than the Giants signing Hamilton.
Like it was two years ago, the Giants will look to re-sign their own players but only at the right price.
The Aubrey Huff deal looks terrible in hindsight, but he was a proven commodity at the time and had a track record of producing.
They ultimately let Juan Uribe (outbid by the Los Angeles Dodgers) and Edgar Renteria go, and they turned out to be good decisions.
So far this offseason, they have brought back Jeremy Affeldt on a three-year contract and have done little else.
Let's take a look at who they must bring back in order to have a chance at the playoffs.
There's no reason to think Scutaro won't be back next year.
Marco Scutaro had a scintillating latter half of the 2012 regular season and an even better postseason.
At age 37, Scutaro somehow found enough magic in his bat to hit .339 in the second half of the season.
As if that wasn't enough, he recovered in the playoffs from a huge hit from Matt Holliday to lead them past the St. Louis Cardinals.
He might have had the best moment in all of the postseason. NLCS MVP.
Then he turned around and had the game-winning World Series hit to score Ryan Theriot.
To top it off, the hitting was no fluke. Scutaro's eye is so good that he never whiffs on a pitch—an absolutely incredible eye from a veteran.
It would appear that Scutaro would love to come back, and that is welcome news to all Giants fans.
What makes it more pressing that Scutaro returns is the lack of depth at second base in the Giants' farm system.
Nick Noonan may be the closest player ready for the majors, but he is still struggling in the minors.
Freddy Sanchez just can't seem to stay healthy but showed up for a couple games in the playoffs. He probably won't be back in a Giants uniform anytime soon.
Marco Scutaro may be the Giants' only option at second base.
And a very good option at that.
Perhaps the likeliest Giant to leave.
Angel Pagan is officially a free agent and may be the most important piece the Giants stand to lose.
He represents a vital cog in the machine that was the Giants' offense in the second half—an offense that was third in runs in the NL after the All-Star Break.
One of baseball's most underrated players, Pagan carried the offense at stretches during the regular season.
Able to play decent defense (despite taking unusual routes to the balls at times), get on base and steal a bag, he was the Giants' most dynamic leadoff hitter since Andres Torres.
Pagan thrived when he batted leadoff after slumping in the 5-hole earlier in the season.
Plus, who wants the three-man celebratory jumps at center field to stop?
How about the salutes to the dugout after every big play?
Pagan may be entering his 30s, but he holds enough value for the Giants to sign him to a three-year contract worth about $30 million.
Like second base, the lack of depth in the Giants' farm system prevents them from immediately having a replacement for Pagan.
Gary Brown is the Giants' number one prospect, but he is a year or two away. Struggling in the minors last year, especially at the plate and on the base paths impeded his progress to the majors.
This should and will be the first priority for the Giants this offseason.
The Giants hope Pence can rebound from a down 2012 season.
By the end of the playoff run, Hunter Pence was known more for his speeches and fiery attitude than his bat.
That's good for the Giants because they won the World Series, but Pence wasn't very good at the plate.
In the second half of the season, Pence hit .213 with eight homers and a ton of swings and misses at sliders in the dirt.
Very harsh flashbacks to Aaron Rowand for Giants fans.
He did recover to do this in the NLCS before disappearing again in the World Series.
Pence is also under arbitration for the fourth time and is owed $13.8 million this year if the Giants choose to pay him.
However, Pence's track record in every season before the second half of 2012 may assure the Giants that he is still a very strong hitter.
He hit relatively well in the first half before falling off in the second, so it may just be a slump. Attribute it to him trying too hard or missing pitches he used to hit, but the Giants may be willing it to take a risk given his strong history.
If he recovers to the high-OBP, home run hitter he was before 2012—and there is no reason for him not to—the Giants may have a risk worth taking.
With the lack of depth in the farm system, the Giants may have no choice but to bring him back.
Although Wilson didn't play a part in the postseason run, he may next year.
I may be in the minority here, but I believe that the Giants would do well by bringing the enigmatic closer back for another season.
Brian Wilson is arbitration eligible for 2012, and the Giants would have to pay him $8.5 million to keep him.
However, the most likely route is that they non-tender Wilson because of his injury concerns and the fact he won't be ready for the beginning of the regular season—barring a miracle.
With Javier Lopez, Jeremy Affledt, Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo locking down the back of the bullpen, there isn't immediate concerns for help.
Also, top prospect Heath Hembree could be ready to go by the beginning of the season.
Hembree has the "closer stuff" that people rave about, although Miguel Cabrera would disagree as he stares at another 88 MPH fastball go right by him.
With Brian Wilson's injury concerns, most teams may stay away from the closer. This gives a chance for the Giants to offer him an incentive-laden deal that protects the Giants from any injury setbacks.
One can never have enough bullpen arms, and Sergio Romo does have a history of elbow trouble.
To provide a little comfort to Giants fans, Wilson has had Tommy John surgery before. Not only did he come back just fine, but he was having tremendous success culminating in the the 2010 World Series.
Ask Nelson Cruz how Wilson looked.