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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Giants make offer for Stanton, who's plan B?

So as I'm sure those of you who've been paying close attention to the Giancarlo Stanton trade sweepstakes as they've caught fire for essentially the last week and the whole Winter Meetings. However, as we stand heading into Saturday Morning, the newly crowned NL MVP is still in Miami with about 4-5 teams with real, shots at landing the big slugger'

One of those teams, obviously, is the San Francisco Giants, who officially made a trade offer to Miami on Thursday. According to CBS Sports, the Giants are the first team to make an official offer to Miami for the MVP, which shows you just how interested they are in acquiring the right-fielder.. As far as I've read, the handful of teams besides the Giants, who Stanton would waive his no-trade clause for are the Yankees, Cardinals, Dodgers and Boston Red Sox. All those teams certainly have the means to get a deal done, so it really comes down to who's going to eat most of that contract and which team offers the best package on top of that. Stanton said he did prefer to go to a perennial contender, which all those teams essentially are making them the most likely group of five to land Stanton if he is indeed dealt like expected. Now, if the Giants are going to indeed bring the big guy aboard, they're either going to have to clear payroll by dealing a big contract of their own or risk taking on a mighty large luxury tax from the MLB for excessive payroll.

They were talking a lot about Stanton on KNBR for the brief periods I was tuned into the station today, and offered a few scenarios in which the Giants could bring the slugger aboard without having to add that crazy of an amount of payroll, although it still would significantly increase. That is a scenario in which they deal one of their own big contracts, but not to the Marlins, who are obviously trying to shed payroll, but possibly to another team in a three-way deal, or have another deal in the works to fall into place immediately after a potential Stanton trade. The two names being most discussed are pitcher Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto, as both are slotted to earn upwards of about $20M for the next four and five seasons, respectively, although Cueto's deal has him closer to $25M per. Now, obviously, in a thin starting pitching market after Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta. Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb will also hit the market as probably the next two best after Darvish and Arrieta which means they're going to get overpaid so teams looking for a potential ace or #2 like Cueto and /or a rock-solid mid-rotation guy like Shark, then the Giants could realistically find a taker for one of the two if they choose to go that route.

A potential three-way deal could possibly done, in theory, especially if the Giants are intending on dumping off payroll in the event of a Stanton deal. They could deal one of their high-priced starters to a team like the Cubbies or Cardinals then have one of those teams send some prospects Miami's way, it could be a win-win-win type of deal. The Marlins obviously want to cut payroll, as they've lost money season after season for a while now and have the new ballpark they're funding, and that's the reason why they're considering dealing the under-30, 60-HR per year threat in Stanton, because he's still owed a lot of money on his nearly $300M deal he signed with the Marlins in the not too distant past.

Now, if they can't deal away a big contract and still find a way to swing Stanton, the plus side for San Francisco is that they do have Pence and Span coming off the books after the '18 season which will free up roughly $30M annualy, and that's more than Stanton's yearly rate (roughly $27M/per though 2027), so when you look at it that way, you see how it could make financial sense for the Giants (assuming they don't have to give up all their prospects and take on the contract). On the other hand, when you see that this deal will take Stanton well into his late-thirties, you have to imagine that there may be a few years towards the end of the deal in which the Giants are paying nearly $30M/season too a guy who's injured half the time and a shadow of the player they dealt for 10 years prior.

The first half of that deal shouldn't be an issue whatsoever as he should more than be able to earn that money, so long as he stays on the field for 145+ ballgames (which is far from a given as Stanton hasn't played many injury-free seasons in his career). It's surprising because the 28 year-old outfielder is a guy in tip-top shape right now though, and could be a good bet to stay productive for much of the second half of the deal. Will he hit 60 HR's when he's 37? Probably not, but with his conditioning and strength and if he stays healthy and ages well (sorta like that Bonds guy that used to play LF in San Francisco) whoever lands the most feared right-handed batter in the game will have possibly made one of the most impactful trades in MLB history.

Now, I know it's exciting to talk Stanton and see that the Giants do seem to have at least a halfway decent shot at landing him, chances are still more likely that he'll be wearing another teams uniform in 2018, which would leave the Giants moving on their backup plans. Those backup plans include the likes of Billy Hamilton, Jackie Bradley Jr. and J.D. Martinez. Apparently the team has had discussions with Martinez about bringing him over to play left while also looking into some strong defensive center fielders as well. They've also asked the Reds about Billy Hamilton and the BoSox about Jackie Bradley Jr. If you follow us on twitter or have read the comments in the last post then you know how I personally feel about these backup options. They're a far cry from Stanton, but both certainly are upgrades to what the Giants currently have in center. Span, while his bat came around towards the end of the year, is headed into his age-34 season and really ever since joining the Giants, he's looked about 40. He's looked much slower, both on the base-paths and defensively in center field, and his swing, take away from a couple hot months in 2017, has looked slow and sluggish as well.

Hamilton is one of, if not the fastest man in baseball, and was second in the game in steals last season. His speed makes him a terrific center fielder, gold glove caliber, but his one area that still needs development is is on-base skills and him putting the ball in play a little more. With his speed, as soon as he gets a better feel of the strike-zone, his OBP, batting average and as a byproduct of those, his runs and steals will go up as well, and that's scary to think about if he does put it all together. He's 27 so he's still learning a bit, and I'd welcome him in center, but only if the Giants had plans on bringing in power to play left, or third base.

Bradley offers a little more pop than Hamilton but nowhere near the speed, though he too is considered a very good center fielder. I haven't seen much of him, but watched some YouTube video on him and he certainly is one talented left-handed bat. When healthy he's a 25+ HR threat with run producing abilities, a solid .270-.280 hitter and as I said, one of the better defenders in baseball. Neither of these two guys are what I'd consider real "difference makers" in a lineup, although each would help tremendously and it would be exciting and fun to watch Hamilton roam the spacious outfield at AT&T Park.

I'm sure more names will surface in the coming days though as well, unless something gets done before hand. The Winter Meetings, which seem to have the most movement, both trade and free agent wise, isn't up for about another month.so things may cool down until closer to then, or maybe there was progress that indeed happened at the GM Meetings this past week and moves could start taking place before Thanksgiving. Not only is it holiday season, but it's the baseball hot stove season and both seem to always start heating up around the same time. I know I've said this a couple times already recently, and I know some of the players the Giants are "looking at" or "discussing", but again, I have no idea really as to what this team's roster will look like in a few months when the team starts trickling in for Spring Training.

I do know one thing, however, and that's if this team can find a way to bring the NL's most valuable player from 2017 over to San Francisco, you'd be looking at a whole new excitement and whole new life pumped into the clubhouse, the lineup, the fans and the city for this team after they've largely disappointed since their tittle in '14. I mean, they looked like a sure-fire 'Series contender for the first half of '16, but outside of that, they've been one of the worst teams in the league for 2 1/2 of the last 3 seasons and I think the brass, along with the fans are over it.

In other words, a bold move wouldn't surprise me, and while I hope that bold move is Stanton, if it isn't, they have to keep their minds open regarding some other possible scenarios. This team, while they've looked so terrible the last year and a half, are only a few pieces, and a turnaround or two internally away from being right back up where they were just a few seasons ago!

Oh how I love the MLB offseason an all it's possibilities and potential promise. The Giants disappointed me massively last winter, adding only Mark Melancon when they so clearly needed at least 2 or 3 other upgrades, and see how that came back to bite them and ultimately tear their season apart? I know Brian Sabean is too baseball savvy and smart to let that happen 2 years in a row, whether he's the guy in the GM chair or not, I expect him to be more hands on this time around and with Bobby Evans and I expect the Giants to have a much better offseason..... at least I sure hope that's the case.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Saturday, November 11, 2017

A lot of eyes on Giants as free-agency opens

The MLB offseason is about to kick into full effect here, as MLB free agency posting took place on Monday and all free agents are now free to sign with whoever they please. Whether it's free agents or possibly trade targets, the San Francisco Giants have been prominently mentioned and linked to some of the bigger names hitting both markets (trade and free agency).

Now, we've all heard the most tantalizing rumor involving the Giants and potentially landing the most efficient power hitter in the game today, Giancarlo Stanton, but we all know they won't be the only team pursuing the big outfield slugger, and apparently the one free agent they've been linked too the most now is former Royal's center fielder Lorenzo Cain. I voiced my opinion on Cainer last post, as he's certainly a plus player and could bring some intangibles to this team they very well could use, but he's not a guy who's going to change the make-up of an offense on his own like Stanton would, and on the wrong side of 30 now, it's tough to imagine his best days still ahead of him. He's one of the top free agent outfielders though with the ability to play center at a high level so he's going to get paid. I just hope it's not the Giants that end up paying him, unless they get him for significantly cheaper (in both years and dollars) than I think he's about to get. So, that leaves either rolling with Span again in center for his final year under contract, or moving on to another potential option for center field, of which there aren't a ton.

Carlos Gomez comes up as the next highest ranked free agent center fielder on the FA market and he'd be the guy I'd look to if they can't come up with any better trade scenarios or land Cain on a team friendly deal. Gomez probably won't seek more than a 1-2 year deal and won't cost an arm and a leg. My guess is he gets a 2-year deal in the $20M range which, for a plus defensive center fielder with power and base-stealing potential (both things this offense sorely needs), then I would roll the dice on that. That being said, my number one choice this winter, as a fan, is bringing in Stanton, some way, some how, and if that were the case and they couldn't move Span's contract then maybe roll with Span one more year in center and/or sign a cheaper defensively minded CF'er like Cam Maybin possibly to spell Span when needed defensively. Then if Maybin gets hot, as he did at times with Houston during their championship run this fall, he takes over center and Span then becomes your fourth outfielder. That's really the kind of depth the Giants have been lacking the last few years and the kind of depth they need in order to get back to where they want to be. They need legit back-up options in the outfield and not just rely on minor leaguers who aren't ready or would take months worth of at-bats to get acclimated.

While the outfield has been all the talk on the radio and websites for the Giants, they still do have that glaring hole at third base as well as a need for some bullpen depth and possibly even another starter. Now, if I were to bet, I would bet they probably don't fill all those needs before spring training, and may rely on some of their in-house guys to step it up for some of those spots. For instance, they very well could feel fine with starting the year with Chris Stratton as their fifth starter after his nice "tryout" period in September. The only way they do that though is if they're sure Johnny Cueto and Matty Moore are healthy and in good condition because they need much more out of both of those guys in 2018, otherwise they'd need a quality, proven guy to bring in and maybe push Moore back into the five spot. Andrew Cashner is a guy that will be out there and someone capable of putting up mid-rotation quality when he's healthy. Alex Cobb is the guy I'd love them to get their hands on, as he is capable of being a #2/3 starter when he's on, but in a thin starting pitching market with his success in the rough AL East, a multi year deal worth big dollars could certainly be in the cards for the 30 year-old.

As for third base, the options are even more scarce. There's Todd Frazier, who we've discussed here several times, but despite being a 30+ home run shoe-in, he has his short-comings in just about every other area. He doesn't hit for average, is turning 32 before next season and saw his power numbers take a dip from 40 jacks in '16 to just 27 in '17. Not that those wouldn't look good in a power starved Giants lineup, but you'd have to imagine AT&T Park cutting into those numbers too making him more of a 20'ish HR guy with a sub-.250 batting average and mediocre glove at third. That to me sounds like Pedro Feliz 2.0 and not exactly what the Giants are looking for. Now, again, if they could get him on a great short-term low-risk deal with maybe some major incentives put in there then I'd be more excepting, but he likely won't have to settle for that.

The next third base option in free agency after Frazier is Jose Reyes, who I honestly would be open to, if the Giants got their outfield situation finely tuned. Right now, they can't really afford to do a dice-roll at third like Reyes would be, but hey, if they landed Stanton and got a center fielder, then maybe that's something they could be interested in. We know Reyes can run and he can defend still, but his .250'ish average isn't the most desirable, despite him upping his power numbers increasing the last couple of seasons. He's kind of like a poor mans version of Eduardo Nunez, as he doesn't have quite the bat that Nunez has, but will provide the versatility and the speed that Nunez did. Again, they'd have to add some more pieces and not just Reyes, but I wouldn't be adverse to Jose Reyes at third for the Giants in 2018 in the right circumstances, especially if Chris Arroyo is still around as a possible back-up option if Reyes goes down with yet another injury in-season.

That's all I really have for today, I did wanna get into the bullpen too, but we'll save that for our next post, hopefully at which time we'll have some more info on who and what exactly the Giants are pursuing and what are the chances of them getting said targets. Right now we're kind of on a 1-2 week posting schedule until the offseason picks up but if anything goes down of any significance, even a juicy rumor pertaining to the orange and black, make sure to stop by here for our reaction and thoughts regardless of the day, time or if we already posted that day.

Important Website Notes: This is not really Giants related but to any of you reading this, I'm looking for help to really update this site and take it to the next level. If anyone out there is computer savvy and can do CGI or help with making new logos/banners, we'd love to bring you aboard the team. We give full credit on the site to anyone who becomes part of The Giants Baseball Blog team (one of the longest running Giants websites on the internet and with a solid following which could multiply plenty with some tweaks and updates). We're a trademarked business, so doing any work for us or joining in some capacity would look great on a resume and provide valuable field experience. If interested in getting involved in anyway, even contributing maybe a couple articles here and there if your passionate about writing and know baseball and the Giants extensively, we're definitely taking on different intern-types right now. I would really like to kind of re-brand this site for the new year and update it as much as possible. We've kind of taken a back-seat the last couple of seasons and I would like to get right back where we belong up there with McCovey Chronicles and some of the other top Giants websites out there. We've been there before and can easily get back with the right formula. For further details, again, contact us by clicking the "contact us" link located in the top toolbar underneath our heading banner. Thanks for reading guys, and as always, "hummmm baby, go Giants!"
The Giants Baseball Blog

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Positional needs/power top Giants 'to-do' list

As I said in our last post, with all of the Giants rotation that ended the year set to return (barring some change of heart from Johnny Cueto and he opts out), they don't have a whole lot of room to do much there unless they want to pursue a more seasoned option for the back-end of the rotation. However, as of now, they have about half of a starting lineup set to return, and will be looking for upgrades in at least two spots, maybe three.

The obvious two spots they'll be looking into upgrading is either center field (depending on what they decide to do with Denard Span) and/or left field, and then the glaring hole at third base. The guys they trotted out in the second half of the year after dealing away starter Eduardo Nunez were hardly inspiring, and proved that if this team is serious about contending in 2018 they're going to have to venture outside the organization for help there. The one name that seems to make some sense, especially on the power end, is Todd Frazier. The Giants need a 30+ home run bat in this lineup and Frazier, although he hits around .225, could provide that. The top third basemen on the marker, Mike Moustakas, is coming off a career year in KC that saw him hit over 30 big flies with a nice average, and great defense at third base. Mix that with the fact he's still under 30 and he's probably going to cash out big somewhere and being a left handed batter, AT&T Park probably wouldn't suit his power potential the most so that may not be a good fit anyway.

Eduardo Nunez is also set to hit the open market, and although he had a pretty good stint here in SF when he was on the field and tore it up for Boston, the question to ask is will he get more than he's worth? We saw Nunez for year here and while I think he was still finding his way a bit in the NL as his power numbers never showed up, but he hit for a nice average and was this teams most dangerous threat on the basepaths, when he was actually one the field. Now, more options will likely present themselves as we get into the offseason, whether it's trade options or guys getting non-tendered, but third base is going to be a very interesting area to keep an eye on this winter for the Giants. I don't love Frazier, but in this market, if they could get him on a 2-year deal then I'd be for it otherwise I say steer clear. I could take the .220 average if it came with 30-something jacks and 85+ RBI.

Another possibility I could very well see happening is if the Giants did strike a deal with Miami for Stanton, they may end up having to take on Martin Prado as well, who's on the hook for around $13..5M the next two years. Prado did have a decent year in '16 hitting .305 with 75 RBI and a .777 OPS, but is 34, hasn't hit double digit HR's since '14 and got hurt and missed most of last season. I just don't see the Giants absorbing that deal though unless they do get rid of Pence or Span in the process.  For roughly the same price, I'm figuring, I'd rather bring back Nunez, as he's a younger, faster, more versatile version of Prado but if they could get their hands on Stanton then all bets may be off.

However, if the Giants are planning on contending in 2018, as I think they will be, Nunez is ideally the guy that I'd like to see back at third the most, at least of the free agent options. Especially if they can find power for the outfield.

Then you have the outfield, which was one of, if not the least productive bunch in all of baseball. Despite his best efforts to keep conditioned and eat healthy during the offseason, Hunter Pence's body seems to be starting to fall him on the field the last few seasons. He hasn't played a full, productive season since 2014 and approaching his age-35 season, it's tough to expect him improving all the much on last years .260/13/67/.704 slash line. That being said, he is under contract for another year so unless the Giants try and deal him, he should be back for one more go round in right field next season. Same with Denard Span. He too is entering his final year under contract and could be more easily dealt as he's coming off a fairly productive year and his price tag at $11M is more palatable than Pence's $19M. Span has lost a step in center field though too, so he's probably best suited to move to a corner at this stage, although if he stays in San Francisco, he'll likely be back in center field. However, If the Giants are going to deal one of the two, and I had to guess right now, it would be Span.

According to Bob Nightengale though, who's right on top of Giancarlo Stanton's situation, the Giants are the clear front-runners for the 28 year-old sluggers services and apparently the feeling is mutual as Stanton would very much enjoy heading west to play for the orange and black. Nightengale seems to believe that the Giants will end up with either Stanton or Martinez, with the meter tilting a little more towards Stanton because the Giants have the ability to take on that massive deal. Now he'd obviously be the number one target and the guy I think all Giants fans would want to bring in the most, but he's got a $200M contract, which he really is worth, but his drawback is he's played just 145+ games 3 times in his 8 year career. He's exactly the type of pure power bat the Giants need though, a guy that would not be intimidated hitting in a spacious home yard (as he proved in Miami) and someone who could allow you to go with more of a defensively minded option at third base. It hasn't been since Barry Bonds that the Giants had a player capable of hitting 40 jacks per year and even though they showed they didn't really need it in their championship years, I think the last few seasons has shown the game changing and that you have to have some power in your lineup no matter how good of pitching you have. Who better than the guy who's been the most dangerous hitter in the game over the last half-decade?

Aside from Stanton and Martinez as possible future left-fielders for the Giants, they also have to figure out what to do in center and right. If Pence and.or Span leaves it'll leave even more holes to fill, but also some possible upgrades. There is some depth in the outfield  free-agent market this winter and some options out there include.  Lorenzo Cain (speed/average/defense) and Jay Bruce (pure left-handed power) are both set to hit the market, but the guy I'd target, especially if Martinez/Stanton don't pan out, would  be Carlos Gonzalez. I believe CarGo still has some prime years left entering his age-32 season in '18, but is coming off an injury-plagued, off-year which should have at least a small impact on his market. He probably returns to Colorado, but. he's the type of bat the Giants could really use though if he's fully healthy. He too has some Bonds in his game, as he's patient, uses all fields and hits for power and average, can run and play "D", plus he's likely to come much cheaper than J.D. Martinez and probably even Lorenzo Cain. His numbers were certainly aided by playing at Coors Field, but he still put up some respectable numbers on the road. I don't know what kind of deal he'll be getting after his sub-par '17 season. He was an all-star just a year ago in '16 when he slashed .298/25/100/.855 preceded by a 40-HR campaign in '15.The guy can definitely still hit, but again, no long-term deal over maybe 3\three-years with a mutual option (preferably 2 with option), even if it is at around 17.5M per season.

The Giants had the likes of Nick Hundley and Jarrett Parker hitting in the middle of the order too many times last year. Heck, outside of Buster Posey, who had one of his worst run-production and power years to date, was the only guy suitable for the middle of order on last years team so they absolutely need another bat capable of driving in runs. CarGo seems like the next best FA/trade option after Stanton and Martinez. Whether or not he'd want to come here and hit for 81 games in this ballpark is something that may take some convincing but if they can put a solid enough product around him and prove they're still within striking distance of another World Series, it could help persuade him. After all, they do say "winning trumps everything". Problem is, this isn't the 2012 Giants and it's been a few seasons since they've been a real World Series threat.

Lorenszo Cain is another intriguing option although he'll probably get a huge deal with his ability to play center while coming off a career year offensively. While he'd look great in center, I feel like the Giants need more of a traditional power guy to insert into the outfield rather than an average/speed guy like Cain. Don't get me wrong, I think Cain is a terrific ballplayer, I just don't think he quite has the power to translate here and that's what the Giants need. He very well could hit .300+ with a lot of doubles and triples though so he's a guy to monitor for sure.

The Giants definitely need offense, and  there's going to be chances to land offense this offseasn, no doubt about it. What will be interesting is to see which  route they go. Do they stick it out and go young and hope to catch fire and maybe add during the season or go into full rebuild mode, or will they re-stock with some better talent. I hope, and I do anticipate them being is aggressive though. I don't see them waiting around until mid-December until they start filling out their roster. I expect them to act quickly and try and get at least one of their needs taken care of as soon as they possibly can. They know the fan base is hungry and has expectations and there would be no better way to ease those anxious fans than a trade for Giancarlo Stanton or a a signing of a player like CarGo before Thanksgiving. Again, I think we're in for a different looking Giants team in 2018, as the coaching staff shuffle-up has already shown, and I'm very excited to see what route they end up going.
The Giants Baseball Blog