Complete Offseason Guide, Predictions for the San Francisco Giants
Think twice before you discount the notion of San Francisco's even-year magic because the Giants were dispatched from the MLB playoffs by the Chicago Cubs in four games. There was a whole lot of magic involved for the Giants to even reach the postseason.
Let's not forget that it was the Giants who had baseball's best record (57-33) and a 6.5-game lead in the National League West at the All-Star break. That they managed to reach the playoffs at all after posting a 30-42 second-half record is nothing short of miraculous.
But there's only so much the baseball gods will do to help a team. At some point, it's on the players to get the job done. The Giants simply weren't up to the task, and they'll head into the offseason looking for ways they can avoid carrying that disappointing finish into 2017.
If San Francisco plans on keeping its Opening Day payroll in the low-$170 million range, as it has each of the last two seasons, the Giants aren't going to have much room to dabble in free agency or take on salary in a trade.
|Player||Pos||2016 Salary||2017 Salary|
While the nearly $140 million the team has committed to nine players heading into 2017 is money well spent, the Giants couldn't field a starting nine for that amount.
Finding a way to keep payroll costs relatively unchanged while rebuilding the bullpen, adding a bat with some pop in it and, perhaps, finding an upgrade at third base is going to be a tall order for the club.
San Francisco doesn't have a major star among its few arbitration-eligible players, but with the exception of Cory Gearrin, there's an argument to be made that the Giants can't afford to not bring all of them back.
|Player||Pos||2016 Salary||Proj. 2017 Salary||Player Comp.|
|Cory Gearrin||SP||$550,000||$1,450,000||Al Alburquerque|
|Conor Gillaspie||SP||N/A||$995,000||Andrew Romine|
|George Kontos||RP||$1,150,000||$2,450,000||Kevin Jepsen|
|Eduardo Nunez||IF||$1,475,000||$3,750,000||Martin Prado|
|Will Smith||RP||$1,475,000||$2,750,000||Jake McGee|
Eduardo Nunez and Will Smith, who were acquired during the season, were solid but unspectacular for the Giants. However, they fill what would otherwise be gaping holes on the roster next season—Nunez at third base and Smith as the team's primary left-handed reliever (and a potential closer candidate).
Besides, it wasn't cheap for the Giants to acquire either one—it cost the team pitching prospect Adalberto Mejia for Nunez and pitching prospect Phil Bickford and catcher Andrew Susac for Smith. San Francisco is going to want more than a half-season of a return on those investments.
Conor Gillaspie's postseason performance (8-for-19 with a triple, home run and six RBI in five games) all but ensures he'll be part of the team's 2017 roster, while George Kontos, who has pitched to a 2.90 ERA and 1.12 WHIP over parts of five years with the Giants, is a reliable, relatively inexpensive bullpen arm.
Players with Options and San Francisco's Free Agents
Matt Moore may never live up to the hype that surrounded him as a prospect in Tampa Bay, but 27-year-old southpaws with his kind of stuff aren't readily available—especially at a $7 million price tag. Exercising his team option should be an easy decision.
After that, things aren't as simple.
|Matt Moore||SP||$5,100,000||$7M team option, $2M buyout|
Do the Giants try to keep their longtime late-inning relief triumvirate together?
Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo can all depart as free agents and, with the exception of Romo (2.64 ERA, 1.08 WHIP), didn't have terrific seasons. If the club is so inclined to keep one of them around, it'll be Romo.
With Angel Pagan (who still has wheels, as he showed in the NL Wild Card Game) a free agent, San Francisco figures to at least poke around for a younger upgrade before it considers whether it's wise to bring back a veteran outfielder in his mid-30s with a lengthy injury history.
As luck would have it, there are some intriguing free-agent options, both in the bullpen and the outfield, who could be of interest to the Giants.
Potential Free-Agent Targets
Just how active the Giants are in free agency depends on how much salary ownership is willing to add. For there are a number of big-ticket players who would be terrific fits for what San Francisco needs.
- Yoenis Cespedes, LF: He's going to cost a fortune as the top free agent available, but he'd plug a hole in left field while adding some much-needed power to the middle of the lineup.
- Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen or Mark Melancon, CL: Nothing would improve a bullpen that blew 29 save opportunities more than adding an elite closer. Chapman and Jansen figure to get bigger deals than Melancon will, but all three would be fine additions.
- Ian Desmond, OF: Desmond had little trouble making the move from shortstop to center field, so it stands to reason he'd be able to handle left field with equal ease. He doesn't have Cespedes' power, but he'd bolster a Giants lineup in need of some pop.
Should the Giants opt to go for less expensive additions, they'll have some choices.
- Neftali Feliz, RP: The former American League Rookie of the Year got himself back on track in Pittsburgh and could be a low-cost, high-reward addition to the bullpen. He has experience as a closer and could be a late-inning option.
- Michael Saunders, LF: A sketchy injury history is a concern, as is his second-half slump, but Saunders has some pop and showed what he's capable of when he's healthy with an All-Star first half for Toronto.
- Brad Ziegler, RP: Arizona's former closer has been terrific in whatever role he's filled and would be a far less expensive addition to the back end of the bullpen than Chapman, Jansen or Melancon.
Unless otherwise noted/linked, all statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and all payroll and salary information courtesy of Cot's Contracts (via Baseball Prospectus). All player comparisons link to Baseball Prospectus.
Want to talk Giants' offseason plans or anything baseball-related? Hit me up on Twitter: @RickWeinerBR