The Giants accomplished their two most pressing priorities this week to solidify the starting lineup for the 2013 season and impending future: re-signing center-fielder Angel Pagan and second baseman Marco Scutaro to multi-year contracts.
Pagan earned a four-year deal worth $40 million, while Scutaro inked a $20 million contract that will keep him in orange and black through the 2015 season.
Both players were instrumental in the Giants winning their second world championship in three seasons, and will resume their roles as catalysts at the top of the lineup on Opening Day in April 2013.
The Giants added roughly $15 million in new money to their 2013 payroll by agreeing to terms with Pagan and Scutaro, raising total salary obligations to approximately $100 million for 10 players.
The team is projected to spend upwards of $140 million next season, according to a tweet authored by John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. This means that the Giants are no-contest to sign a big-name free agent this offseason.
The Giants had entered conversations with slugging outfielder Nick Swisher and were rumored to be his preferred destination, according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman. San Francisco is now considered too financially constrained to sign the 32-year-old free agent.
GM Brian Sabean will now focus on signing the team's hefty band of arbitration-eligible players instead of flirting with the idea of adding a big money power threat.
Lanky outfielder Hunter Pence headlines a list of players who played prominent roles in the Giants' 2012 title run, but the most notable name on the bill is former closer Brian Wilson.
It remains unknown if the Giants will part with Wilson, although all indications point to the bearded man's departure from the City by the Bay.
The Giants opted to non-tender the man who threw the final pitch of the 2010 World Series because of financial reasons.
The Giants declined to offer Wilson a contract as he's still recovering from his second Tommy John surgery. The club is unsure if Wilson will be ready to pitch on Opening Day, and ultimately decided that his $6.8 million minimum arbitration figure is too pricey for their taste.
The steady emergence of Sergio Romo as the backbone of an already strong bullpen made that decision a no-brainer.
Still, the Giants have some work left to do if they expect to maintain a dominant 'pen in 2013.
The Giants will likely tender contracts to their seven remaining arbitration-eligible players, including Sergio Romo ($3.6 million), Santiago Casilla ($5.4 million), and Jose Mijares ($1.6 million)—all staples in the bullpen.
It's possible that Romo could net a multi-year deal, as the 29-year-old has exploded into his prime, but is also only in his second year of arbitration eligibility.
The Giants' total player salary obligations would reach approximately $135 million if all remaining arbitration-eligible players are signed at, or near, the estimated figures.
This would bring the official roster tally to 21 players, including non-arbitration eligible players: Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, George Kontos, and Hector Sanchez. This would leave Sabean with about $10 million to fill out the roster and find a suitable platoon with Gregor Blanco in left field.
The Giants gained some flexibility by opting to non-tender Wilson, and should now be able to bolster the bench.
Scott Hairston and Ryan Ludwick have been linked to the Giants by CSN Bay Area's Andrew Baggarly, although it's possible that both players will command more money than San Francisco can optimally afford.
Baggarly claims that Ludwick was a supposed fall-back plan if the Giants were unable to retain Scutaro. Now, however, there are insufficient funds to make this happen.
Still, it's possible that Sabean will make a late push to win over one of the free-agent outfielders.
Ludwick possesses tremendous power and would be an ideal fit. He launched 26 home runs and drove in 80 runs for the Reds in 2012 while maintaining a respectable .275 batting average.
Ludwick is a career .263 hitter and would be a significant home run threat on a team that ranked last in the big leagues in that category in 2012.
Hairston could also supply power for the Giants—blasting 20 bombs in a pitcher friendly Citi Field for the Mets last season.
The Giants will be forced to get creative if they're unable to sway one of the few, talented free agent outfielders on the market. Concocting a trade could end up being the most effective strategy in acquiring a fourth outfielder.
Brandon Snyder is a potential cheap alternative if the Giants are unable to sign Hairston or Ludwick and can't find a suitor via trade. The 26-year-old was non-tendered by the Rangers before winter meetings, but could prove to be a tolerable platoon player in the outfield.
Snyder hit .277 with three home runs in 69 plate appearances in 2012 and has a career .766 OPS in the minor leagues.
His numbers aren’t fantastic, but the Giants could be hard-pressed to find an additional outfielder. Snyder could potentially be on their radar.
The team has switched gears in free agency and will now look towards filling-out the bench.
The Giants conversed with infielder Ryan Theriot about readopting a utility role in 2013. Theriot scored the winning run of the 2012 World Series and provided clubhouse leadership qualities—even after being relegated to the bench when the Giants acquired Scutaro mid-season.
Theriot has that "do anything to win" mindset that fits the Giants’ collective team-wide attitude.
So do Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro.
The Giants will ultimately enter the 2013 season with all of their premiere players in tact and will be ready to compete for another world championship.
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