Why The Giants Are Screwed in 2011 & 2012

Andrew FifeContributor IJanuary 8, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO - JANUARY 3: (L-R) San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy, Giants Vice President and General Manager Brian Sabean, New San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Barry Zito and Giants owner Peter Magowan formally announce Zito to the team January 3, 2007 at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Zito signed a seven-year, $126 million contract with the San Francisco Giants, the highest amount ever paid for a starting pitcher.(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

With Bay, Holliday, Figgans and Johnson signing elsewhere, the SF Giants chances of acquiring an impact bat (and their hopes for playoffs) in 2010 drift further and further away.  But what of 2011?  Unfortunately, without an additional infusion of salary budget, the Giants don't have much room for improvement.  

According to Cot's Baseball Contracts , the Giants only have $38.6M allocated in 2011, but they don't yet include $6M for Mark DeRosa and $6.25M for Matt Cain.  With the payroll seemingly set at $90M that would give the Giants over $39M to spend in free agency.  However, that number doesn't include arbitration contracts for Lincecum, J. Sanchez, Wilson or Sandoval.  How much will they each make?

Lincecum is rumored to be seeking as much as $23M (based on Sabathia) through arbitration for 2010.  As a 2x Cy Young winner, Lincecum will certainly break Ryan Howard's record 2008 arbitration salary of $10M after his MVP performance.  Splitting the difference between Howard and Sabathia would lead to a $16.5M 2010 salary.  Splitting the difference again for 2011 would create a salary of $19.75M.  Given that Lincecum and Roger Clemons are the only pitchers to win 2 Cy Young awards by 25, arbitration is in uncharted territory so making predictions are shaky at best.  That said if these figures are in the ballpark after retaining Lincecum, the Giants would have $19M left for free agents.

Francisco Rodriquez may be a good example of what to expect for Brian Wilson in arbitration.  In K-Rod's 3 seasons prior ('03-'05) to arbitration he pitched 237.1 innings with a 2.50 ERA, 59 saves and 11.7 Ks/9.  Over Wilson's last 3 years he has pitched 158.1 innings with a 3.41 ERA, 85 Saves and 9.5 Ks/9.  While K-Rod was clearly more dominant than Wilson has been, arbitration seems to be about stats and saves are the key stat for closers, so it seem plausible that K-Rod's lower ERA and Wilson's higher save total cancel each other out.  Wilson would also have the benefit of several years of inflation working in his favor.  K-Rod earned $3.75M, $7M and $10M in his first 3 years of arbitration.  If that comparable holds true, Wilson would earn $7M in 2011 and the Giants would be down to $12M for free agents.    

Pablo Sandoval should be arbitration eligible for the first time in 2011 and and it seems likely that he will earn $6-8M based on 2009 comparables .  Jeff Francoeur, Conor Jackson, Mike Jacobs, Mark Teahan, Andre Either, Nate McLouth, Jayson Werth, Marlon Byrd, Dan Uggla and Ryan Zimmerman all got in the $3-5M range last year while Garrett Attkins got $7M and Prince Fielder got $9M.  Arbitration committees are supposed to include value to the team, in addition to raw stats, and considering Panda finished 7th in the '09 MVP voting it seems likely that he will separate himself from the $3-5M caliber players.  If Sandoval were awarded $7M in arbitration the Giants would have $5M left to spend on free agency.  

Jonathan Sanchez is probably the hardest to forecast because while he has flashed serious talent its not clear if 2010 will be his breakout year or relegate him to the scrap heap.  Justin Duchscherer ($3.9M) and Justin Verlander ($3.7M) have probably both accomplished more that Sanchez but assuming he makes progress in 2010 a $3.2M arbitration figure for Sanchez in 2011 seems reasonable. 

Having spent approximately $87.2M more-or-less like this:

  • $18.5M - Zito
  • $13.6M - Rowand
  • $0.5M - (Bonus to Renteria, no longer with the team)
  • $6M - DeRosa
  • $6M - F. Sanchez
  • $6.25M - Cain
  • $19.75M - Lincecum (est)
  • $7M - Wilson (est)
  • $7M - Panda (est)
  • $3.2M - J. Sanchez (est)

The Giants would have $2.2M, of their current $90M budget, for signing an additional 18 players to fill out their roster.  Assuming all they fill out the rest of their roster with players from the farm system, the Giants are still looking at another $9M to pay 18 players $500K each.  It seems reasonable that Giants ownership might increase their payroll $10-15M like they did from '00 to '01 and '01 to '02.  However, those increases were done in context of a new stadium and a winning team, which seems less-and-less likely.  Even so, the Giants would still be looking at trying to sign 18 players with $17.2M, which certainly isn't a rosy scenario.  

And 2012 will be even tighter if the Giants want to retain Matt Cain when he hits the free agent market.