Unlike the recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken, the plans of Giant's general manager Brian Sabean have been no secret.
So far this offseason, Sabean has been working to re-sign all the players from the 2012 World Series championship team that joined the frenzy of free agency at season's end. In the process, he's brought back center fielder/leadoff man Angel Pagan (four years, $40 million), playoff hero/second baseman Marco Scutaro (three years, $20 million), bullpen leader Jeremy Affeldt (three years, $18 million) and, most recently, set-up reliever Santiago Casilla (three years, $15 million).
In fact, the only player signed by Sabean to not appear on the 2012 Giant's roster is Andres Torres, who many will remember as a major contributor to San Francisco's 2010 World Series championship. Sabean scooped up the left fielder to platoon with Gregor Blanco on a one-year, $2 million deal.
Of the contracts inked above, all but one are for at least three years. The contracts for Pagan and Scutaro each break the $20 million mark, which isn't in and of itself an issue, but combined with an additional $33 million going solely to two bullpen arms, makes for a hefty payroll. Pagan was the best center fielder at the most reasonable price, so I fully commend that move, even if the fourth year is a bit worrisome.
Scutaro's contract will seem him wearing orange and black past age 40. With middle infielders in such short supply this winter, and the San Francisco fanbase's affection for Scutaro, it seemed like a necessary risk to take. At $20 million, the team won't be saddled with an awful contract should things deteriorate before the end of the 2015 season.
No contract for one-year and $2 million dollars can be considered terribly dumb, which means the title belongs to the deal for either Affeldt or Casilla. It's no contest really. The three year, $15 million deal inked by Santiago Casilla is the dumbest move San Francisco has made this winter.
Casilla performed admirably in 2012. In the postseason, he tossed seven innings over 11 games and came away with only one bad performance (Game 1 of the NLDS). I fully agree with Sabean's choice to buy out a free-agent year and keep Casilla around. But Sabean bought out not only Casilla's last arbitration-eligible year, but two free agency years beyond it. It's less my faith in Casilla, of which I have a decent amount, and more my concern with the trends in contracts going to relievers.
If Casilla is worth three years, $15 million, what will Sergio Romo be worth in 2015? As a larger and larger percentage of the Giant's total payroll is consumed in retaining elite arms for the bullpen, where do we find the room to extend franchise players like Buster Posey and emerging stars like the Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford?
To me, the deals offered by San Francisco has given fans the first taste of a possible loosening of wallets around the rather stingy confines of AT&T Park. Only time will tell where the buck stops in the land of the Giants, but if the contracts signed so far are any indication, there may be a new big spender in the MLB.