San Francisco Giants' Biggest Winners and Losers of the Offseason so Far
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Following a World Series title, the San Francisco Giants have had a nice offseason.
The objective was to keep a championship team together, and general manager Brian Sabean accomplished that emphatically. If the Giants don't win a World Series in 2013, it won't be because they didn't have the same team that won the trophy previously.
Looking at it from that standpoint, there have been many winners associated with the Giants over the past two months. The players fortunate enough to become free agents following a championship season were the immediate beneficiaries.
The afterglow of that success didn't leave many offseason losers in San Francisco, but there are a couple of players who didn't get to enjoy that World Series title—or the financial prosperity that it yielded—so they were grouped in that category.
Who have been the winners and losers of the Giants' offseason thus far? Here are those who are smiling, along with the ones left frowning.
Winner: Brian Sabean
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Has any MLB general manager had a better offseason than Brian Sabean?
Who else among front-office executives in baseball has been able to check off all of the items on his winter to-do list?
Keeping his team together for next season and beyond may not have seemed like a hugely ambitious undertaking. But since we're talking about a World Series championship team, bringing back key pieces and returning virtually the same roster for next season was a bold task.
Sabean made it a priority to re-sign outfielder Angel Pagan, infielder Marco Scutaro and reliever Jeremy Affeldt. Despite strong offers from the competition, the Giants GM was able to keep all three in San Francisco, though it took him $78 million worth of salaries to do so.
Reporters, analysts and fans may have wanted to see the Giants go for an upgrade, making a splashy move like signing Josh Hamilton to play left field. But those were our ideas, not Sabean's. He apparently doesn't want to mess with a good thing and gave his team a chance to win the World Series again in 2013.
Until we're proven otherwise, who's to say Sabean made the wrong decision?
Winner: Angel Pagan
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Angel Pagan showed excellent timing in having the best year of his career.
In his final season before free agency, the 31-year-old center fielder hit .288 with a .778 OPS, 38 doubles, 15 triples, eight home runs, 56 RBI and 29 stolen bases.
Pagan also put up those numbers during a year in which the Giants won the World Series, becoming a key contributor to a championship run.
That's not bad for a player who looked like one end of a challenge trade with the New York Mets, acquired in exchange for Andres Torres just over a year ago.
Pagan also had his career-best success just before several playoff contenders and hopefuls were looking to add a center fielder. The Phillies, Braves, Nationals and Reds were all among the teams seeking help at the position, and at least three of those clubs showed serious interest in Pagan.
But Giants general manager Brian Sabean wanted Pagan back as his starting center fielder and leadoff hitter, ultimately coming through with the deal that brought the outfielder back to San Francisco.
Was $40 million an overpay? Perhaps, but that's what it took to keep Pagan from the Phillies. Considering what other center fielders have gotten on the free-agent market, this could turn out to be a bargain for the Giants.
Loser: Brian Wilson
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Brian Wilson might turn out to be an offseason winner, depending on what kind of contract he can get on the free-agent market. He'll look even better if he gets a chance at a closer job with a new team.
But as far as the Giants are concerned, Wilson is an offseason loser.
San Francisco decided not to tender the 30-year-old reliever a contract for 2013 after he suffered a season-ending elbow injury that required the second Tommy John surgery of his baseball career.
More specifically, the Giants did not want to pay Wilson $6.8 million next season when his health was in doubt and Sergio Romo showed he was capable of taking over as the team's closer.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle's Henry Schulman, the Giants would have had to pay Wilson 80 percent of his $8.5 million 2012 salary had they offered him a contract by the Nov. 30 non-tender deadline.
Though the Giants would like to bring Wilson back at a lower price, he's reportedly bitter about the Giants cutting him loose after seven seasons with the team and would like to sign elsewhere.
It's not the end Wilson's career in San Francisco should have come to, but the business of baseball results in some hard feelings and payroll casualties. Wilson turned out to be one of them.
Winner: Marco Scutaro
Would the Giants have won the 2012 World Series without Marco Scutaro?
Maybe they still would have, but Scutaro sure helped the cause by batting .362 with an .859 OPS after being acquired from the Colorado Rockies. The infielder proved to be even more valuable during the postseason, batting .500 with a 1.140 OPS to earn MVP honors in the NLCS.
Middle infield was a weakness all season long for the Giants before general manager Brian Sabean traded for Scutaro. He didn't want to go back to struggling with the likes of Ryan Theriot and Emmanuel Burriss at second base while trying to defend a World Series title.
Thus, bringing back Scutaro was crucial.
It wasn't so easily done, however. Other teams with weaknesses in the middle infield zeroed in on Scutaro and tried to sign him via free agency.
The St. Louis Cardinals, in particular, offered a two-year deal with a higher annual salary, according to the San Jose Mercury News' Alex Pavlovic. The New York Yankees also showed interest. That pushed the Giants to give Scutaro a third year if they wanted to re-sign him.
Getting traded to a championship team before becoming a free agent was extremely fortuitous for Scutaro, who will turn 40 after his new contract expires.
Winner: Jeremy Affeldt
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As Dallas Braden told the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser in late-October, he will likely find a job in 2013 because, in his words, "I'm left-handed and have a heartbeat."
Fortunately for the Giants, Jeremy Affeldt exceeds those criteria on a regular basis, consistently pitching as one of the best left-handed relievers in baseball.
With teams like the Cardinals and Dodgers seeking a lefty for their bullpen, San Francisco general manager Brian Sabean had to pay up to bring Affeldt back for next season and beyond. A three-year, $18 million accomplished that objective.
The Giants may have overpaid a bit, considering that Sean Burnett signed a two-year, $8 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels. But Affeldt's track record warranted a better contract, and maybe his four-year tenure with the team did as well.
As Affeldt said to MLB.com's Chris Haft, the Giants "don't sit there and try to lowball and figure out where to get to."
Sabean knew what the market was and locked up his left-hander, a valuable commodity that many other MLB contenders lack in their bullpens. He also knew that Affeldt is more than a situational left-hander. He will rarely, if ever, have to close games out for the Giants. But it's surely nice to know that he's capable of doing so, if necessary.
Loser: Andres Torres
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Is it unfair to label Andres Torres as an offseason loser for the Giants?
We should all be so unfortunate, having to live with taking a below-market $2 million contract and a part-time job. Of course, it's absurd to try and compare real-world, working-class economics to the salaries handed out in MLB.
Torres had a bad enough year for the New York Mets, batting .230 with a .664 OPS with three home runs and 35 RBI. But that performance looked even worse when compared with Angel Pagan, the player that the Giants received in exchanged for Torres.
Pagan had the best year of his career and won a World Series ring, parlaying that success into a four-year, $40 million free-agent contract.
Meanwhile, the Mets didn't tender a contract Torres after the season and let him go. The two center fielders were essentially polar opposites, in terms of how their respective years developed.
With the Giants needing an outfielder to pair with Gregor Blanco in left field, however, they saw a low-cost option in Torres and that platoon should be an effective one for San Francisco in 2013.
Torres is certainly a winner from the standpoint that he rejoins a championship team, one that he helped win a World Series in 2010.
But he surely would have preferred a full-time job and a better contract through free agency. Coming back to San Francisco as a part-time platoon player puts him in the loser category, even if that seems harsh.
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