After keeping the core of their championship team together by re-signing free agents Jeremy Affeldt, Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro, the latest rumors pertaining to the San Francisco Giants mostly surround the periphery of the roster.
For example, the Giants were rumored to be interested in backup outfielder Endy Chavez before he agreed to a minor league deal elsewhere on Monday.
Before missing out on Chavez, the Giants were busy building the depth of their roster by signing free agent outfielder Andres Torres to a major league deal, claiming reliever Sandy Rosario off of waivers and agreeing to minor league contracts with catcher Guillermo Quiroz, infielder Wilson Valdez and reliever Chad Gaudin.
With the big transactions of the winter already taken care of, the Giants will spend the rest of the offseason continuing to build up the bench and bullpen.
The biggest questions that remain are whether the club will re-sign Brian Wilson, trade Tim Lincecum and extend the contracts of Buster Posey and Sergio Romo.
The latest news on Wilson courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle's Henry Schulman is that the team was not close to a deal with the bearded closer. Wilson was reportedly unhappy with the team's decision to not tender him a contract last month.
Had the Giants tendered Wilson, he likely would have made close to the $8.5 million salary that he earned last season when he made just two appearances before going under the knife for a second Tommy John procedure on his elbow.
Given Wilson's unhappiness with the club's decision to non-tender him, I would sell on the rumors of him coming back to the Giants. The Giants want him back but are near their budget ceiling at this point in the winter. Most free agents go to the highest bidder, and it's hard to envision the Giants outbidding other suitors for Wilson—particularly given his public frustration with the organization.
While it's possible that Sabean would still entertain trade offers for Lincecum even after telling the media he had no intention of making a deal, he likely would have been more active in finding a replacement this winter.
With free agents Zack Greinke, Anibal Sanchez, Ryan Dempster, Brandon McCarthy and Edwin Jackson off the market, the Giants would have a hard time replacing Lincecum if they dealt him, unless they got a big-league ready arm in return for him.
With Sabean shooting down rumors of a Lincecum deal earlier this winter and the Giants not active in the free agent pitching market, I would bet the farm on him being in the Giants rotation in 2013. Even with Lincecum in the fold, the Giants remain short on starting pitching depth outside of the five returning starters in the big league rotation.
This late in the winter, not many teams have the money available to acquire a pitcher making $22 million—especially one coming off the worst season of his career. The better question isn't whether or not Lincecum will be in the Giants rotation, but which version of Lincecum will show up in 2013?
John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the Giants were open to the idea of a contract extension for Buster Posey. Posey is in a similar situation to the one Lincecum was in after the 2009 season.
Lincecum was eligible for salary arbitration for the first time, and normally the advantage is with the team in arbitration hearings. However, because Lincecum had two Cy Young awards on his resume, he had the leverage. The Giants ultimately agreed to buy out two years of arbitration with a $23 million contract extension.
Posey has a batting title, MVP award, Rookie of the Year award and two World Series titles on his resume. The Giants will control him through arbitration for the next four years regardless, but a contract extension to provide cost certainty and buy out some free agent years would make a lot of sense.
I would buy the rumors of a contract extension for Posey, and I would also expect the team to extend Sergio Romo—who is also eligible for salary arbitration. The three-year contract extension the Giants recently gave to Santiago Casilla would be a reasonable deal for Romo.
The Giants are done making big splashes this winter, which means Lincecum will almost certainly be in the rotation when spring training rolls around. The Giants might want Wilson back in the bullpen, but my guess is that he will stick to his word and move on.
The smart money is on multi-year contract extensions for Posey and Romo, the two most critical members of the team eligible for salary arbitration.
The theme of the offseason has been stability, and I would bet on that continuing with contract extensions for two integral members of the 2010 and 2012 championship teams.
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