So, I didn’t quite get done with my analysis of every team last year before the Winter Meetings hit (along with my own busy holiday schedule). But, what I thought I might do this year is try to shorten up these posts, and also start at the top (where fewer adjustments need to be made), and maybe I’ll get to every team. The format will be a little different this year, which I think will allow for more succinct analysis. So, here’s what I see for the World Champion San Francisco Giants.
San Francisco/Oakland is the 6th largest television market in America. In 2012, the Giants’ opening day roster was the 8th highest at just over $117 million. I honestly see no reason for adjustments in this area. I would think anywhere from $100-120 million is about the right major-league payroll for a team with the revenue capabilities San Fran has. And, realistically, they could likely increase that payroll to as much as $130 mil. without worrying too much – after all, they did just win their second World Series in three seasons, and they had the 4th highest attendance in MLB this past season. So, let’s look at the players themselves.
Who’s Under Contract?
- The starting rotation – all 5 starters (Cain, Lincecum, Zito, Vogelsong & Bumgarner) are signed at least through 2013. The total hit to the wallet from these five is a massive $67.75 mil.
- Javier Lopez is the only other pitcher under a guaranteed contract, and he’ll make $4.25 mil. – a very reasonable price for a quality lefty in the bullpen.
- Pablo Sandoval is the only position player under a guaranteed contract – $5.7 mil. in 2013.
- There are also guys that are “pre-arbitration” eligible. This virtually means they will have to take whatever the team pays them for a couple more years. Guys like Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Gregor Blanco, and George Kontos will be important pieces in 2013.
- First to go should be (and from what I can tell, is) Aubrey Huff. He turns 36 in December, and his club option was for $10 million for 2013. No way the Giants should pay that when Brandon Belt filled the 1B position just fine, for around $500K. $2 mil. to buy out the last year on Huff’s contract is the smart move here.
- Clay Hensley and his ERA of almost 5 the last two seasons isn’t a great choice either. They also have better options than Emmanuel Burriss, and Eli Whiteside. Offering any of these arbitration doesn’t make sense to me.
- Brian Wilson. What?? No more “Fear the Beard” in San Fran? Here’s the thing: even before his injury-shortened 2012, his 2011 season wasn’t great (36 saves, but 3.11 ERA, and 1.47 WHIP). Secondly, you’ve seen that Romo (a younger, cheaper option) can handle the pressure of being your closer in the most difficult of circumstances. Because of some arbitration cases that have to be dealt with, I see no reason to offer Wilson arbitration, if the Giants want to keep their payroll at a reasonable level.
- Hunter Pence. As much as I like how well he fit in that clubhouse, it’s difficult to see how they can afford to keep him. He made $10.4 mil in 2012, and had the worst statistical season of his career (with the exception of RBI’s). Even if they were able to get him at a discount (maybe $8 mil.?), it would likely be too much, considering what else they have to cover (see below). Plus, two of their best minor-league prospects are outfielders – Gary Brown and Francisco Peguero. I see no reason not to let them battle it out for the last outfield spot in 2013.
- As for guys that will be free agents from the 2012 team, they’ll first need to make a choice between Marco Scutaro and Freddy Sanchez. They both essentially fill the same position (veteran infielder with versatility, around 36 years old, will cost around $5 mil.). My vote goes to Scutaro, because I believe he’s a slightly better offensive weapon – and who would argue with them resigning the NLCS MVP?
- Guillermo Mota will also be a free agent, but he’ll also be 39, and had a rough 2012 season. No reason to sign him.
- Let’s start with arbitration-eligible guys. Santiago Casilla has done well out of the bullpen. His numbers this past season weren’t quite as good as the previous two. At 32 years old, $2-3 mil. seems reasonable for his 3rd year of arbitration.
- Sergio Romo made just $1.57 mil. in 2012. He certainly proved he can be your new closer. Give him 2-3 years at $5-6 mil. per year, and call it a day.
- And, guess who else is arbitration-eligible . . . Buster Posey. He made all of $600K in 2012. It’s now time to pay the face of your franchise. Mauer set the standard for catchers at the highest level. But, I think paying a guy $23 mil. when he’s a 36-year-old catcher is madness. Fortunately for the Giants, Posey is turning 26 next March. Give him a 6-year, $130-mil. contract, and you’ve got the guy signed through his prime years at top dollar. The only reason this is affordable for San Fran. is because they’re cutting the contract of Huff, and in the coming years guys like Zito and Lincecum won’t be making $20 mil.
- As for free agents, Angel Pagan is a nice fit at the top of this lineup, and in CF. He should be worth the $4-6 million he’ll cost.
- Melky Cabrera. I know, I know. PED’s. But, somehow he went through 260+ games with a .322 average and .849 OPS before being caught. He’s never been a power hitter, so we know it wasn’t about that. And, I’m not convinced PED’s help you make better contact with the ball. I think Melky has actually figured some things out over the last couple years, and is worth the risk of signing. Especially as a switch-hitting left-fielder. And perhaps putting that kind of faith in him will let you get him at a slight discount from the $6 mil. he made last year? He’s a cheaper, switch-hitting, option than Pence.
- Ryan Theriot – he’s cheap, reliable offensively, and plays a good second base. Between him and Scutaro, and Crawford, you’ve got the middle of the infield covered.
- Jeremy Affeldt – a solid, reliable lefty coming out of the pen. But, only if they can get him a little cheaper than the $5 mil they paid in 2012. $3-4 mil seems more reasonable for a guy that will turn 34 next season. With Casilla, Affeldt, Romo, Lopez, and Kontos, you only need one or two more guys to round out your bullpen on the cheap. Heath Hembree might be an option in AAA.
Who do they go after?
No one. Just dealing with the current players on the roster, and using guys from the farm system to fill a couple holes is still going to cost the Giants around $130 million in 2013. The only way to avoid this is if they go through arbitration with Posey, and save $5-8 million there. But, if they did that, they might could consider resigning Pence or Wilson, or both. It’s going to be interesting to see exactly how the handle this.