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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Slow moving market may help Giants in the end

Back in October, after the Astros destroyed the Giants' arch nemesis LA Dodgers to win the '17 World Series, I was anticipating the Giants to be active early on in their attempt to upgrade their roster. However that simply has not been the case, not only with the Giants but with all of baseball as 9 of the top-10 ranked free-agents still unemployed as we enter 2018.

Although it's become a bit of a trend in recent years for free agents/GM's and owner to wait things out a little more rather than rushing to sign players right away in November, usually things pick up significantly in December and certainly after the winter meetings and GM meetings pass. This year though, there really isn't a consensus top ranked free agent which usually sets the tone for the rest of the pack.

So it's been a very bizarre offseason to say the least. It started off with all eyes on Giancarlo Stanton, as the reigning NL MVP held the keys as to what team he wanted to be dealt to, which led to him blocking a deal in place that would have sent the slugger to San Francisco while the Cardinals were right there with the Giants in the Stanton sweepstakes. Although not a free agent, Stanton was the biggest name on the market this winter and he thought to be sort of that market setter, or starter once his situation was resolved. The slugger ended up choosing to waive his no-trade to join the New York Yankees, spurning the Giants who were thought to be the favorites to land the slugger. It's now been a month since the trade though, and thins are still moving very slowly on the player movement front. Only five of the top-20 ranked free agents have found themselves homes, signifying that owners are simply not wanting to throw big money at players that aren't superstars just because they happen to be one of the better free agent options this winter. The Giants, for example, would probably have signed Jay Bruce within days of missing out on Stanton in years past, and given him the four-year deal he's still holding out for. This winter, they're in no rush to get anything done and they're not alone.

Only a small percentage of The Sporting News' top 101 free agents for this offseason have found homes thus far. Something will eventually give though, and guys will start to sign, but I'm not quite sure what that thing that gets this offseason going will be. As I said, most people thought it would have been the Stanton trade, but that was resolved weeks ago and things have been as quiet as ever (free-agency wise). Maybe it won't be until J.D. Martinez and Yu Darvish sign but they don't seem close to landing anywhere from what I'm hearing. There have, however, been a few big trades, including the Giants landing Evan Longoria and Cardinals trading for Marcel Ozuna with both players being considered "consolation prizes" in the Stanton sweepstakes. The Giants and Cardinals, from all accounts, were the two teams that the Marlins had deals in line with only to have Stanton decline, instead holding out for New York.

The question Giant's fans, as well as fans from most ball clubs, are now waiting on an answer for now is what happens next? When are we going to see thin another move made and things sort of shake up atop the free agency pool. For the Giants, they need to figure out how many more moves they're in position to make in order to improve the 2018 roster and not go over the luxury tax threshold? I firmly expect them to still bring in two outfielders, whether that's a trade and a signing or two signings. We know about Bruce being linked to the team. We know all about the Billy Hamilton/Jarrod Dyson talk and even the Andrew McCutchen and Jackie Bradley Jr. long shot possibilities, but the latest name to join the mix is someone who I've voiced my opinion on plenty in posts throughout the offseason. That player is former Rockies' outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, who would have been atop the pack of this free agent class had he been coming off virtually any other year of his career.

If the Giants are unable to get Bruce to drop his demand of a 4-year deal down to three (which from what I'm hearing is the hurdle in negotiations), they could turn their efforts to CarGo, who's been a better player than Bruce up until last season. CarGo is 2 years Bruce's senior, which factors into things and, as we already discussed, is coming off a year in which he slashed .262/13/57/.767. It was only the first time in his career with a sub-.800 OPS in a season in which he played over 85 games. In '16 he was an all-star, slashing .298/25/100/.855 and the year prior he won a silver slugger award, knocking out 40 home runs and slugging at a percentage of .540. That slugging percentage is not quite up to Barry Bonds' .600+ slugging percentage in his hey day's in the orange and black, but those are pretty damn impressive seasons from CarGo. I mean, if he's coming off either the '15 or the '16 season he'd easily place within the top-5 of this years free agent class, and again, would at least be my top choice. He just turned 32 in October and is still considered to be in his prime in the baseball sense, although it's certainly the back-end.

This is pure speculation, because I don't know what Bruce is asking for in terms of the dollar amount on his contract, only that he's seeking at least a four year deal and I haven't heard anything in regards to CarGo's preferred numbers. If it came down to CarGo for maybe 2 years and $30-35M or Bruce at around 4 years and $70-80M though, I'd personally roll the dice on CarGo.

We saw what Gonzalez did in a down year last season, and despite it being way below his standards, it was a better OPS, HR and RBI total than any outfielder the Giants trotted out in 2017. Had Hunter Pence been healthy all year things may have been different, but that shows just how poorly their outfield performed last summer. So we sort of saw Gonzalez's floor in '17 (although he did have injury issues he still played in over 135 games), and his ceiling is that of an MVP-caliber left fielder. I just think those are better than what Bruce's respective "floor" and "ceiling" is. Plus, if they signed CarGo to a deal similar to the one I suggested, and traded for a center fielder still under team control in arbitration (like a Bradley or Hamilton), they still could have some money to dangle out there for a potential #4 starter like an Andrew Cashner, Jason Vargas or if they want to spend a bit more, Lance Lynn would look awesome behind Cueto in the #3 starter spot, moving Samardzija down to 4 and allowing the slew of youngsters led by Christ Stratton to battle it out for the fifth spot.

Now, the only issue with CarGo and the Giants that concerns me and I'm sure has the Giants a little gun-shy as opposed to Bruce is the fact that the former Rockie has been flat out bad at AT&T Park over his career. LIke sub-.700 OPS bad with just 5 home runs and a low batting average during the course of  well over 200 at-bats in the spacious yard. Whereas Bruce has had no such trouble and has actually thrived at AT&T in his career, slashing .293/7/22/.893 over 116 career at-bats which I'm sure is a huge reason why the Giants see him as one of the better options for them.

Whoever they end up signing, the longer it takes for things to unfold, the better it seems to be for the teams trying to get sign players to more "team friendly" deals. A couple  winters back (heck maybe even last offseason), J.D. Martinez would have been signed for 5 years and $125M and Yu Darvish may have been looking at a deal in the $200M range. I mean, at 32 years if age a couple years ago, Zach Grienke got $206M over 6 years from Arizona. That same offseason, Jeff Samardzija coming off a year in which he was one of the most hittable and scored upon pitchers in baseball, landed a deal close to $100M from these Giants based squarely on what he did in a couple seasons with the Cubbies and what the Giants hoped he'd do in their yard.

So free agency seems to be changing a bit in baseball, and we'll still have to see how things shake out, but I'm pretty sure most players will not be getting the deals they ideally would have gotten in previous offseasons.

And with that said this, baring some move that's made over the next 48 hours, will be our last post of 2017, so happy new year to all Giants fans and especially to those that loyally follow us and check in on our site on a regular basis here at The Giants Baseball Blog.

GBB Notes and End of the Year Appreciations: We're going to try and have our best year yet in 2018, as we look to expand a bit and possibly move off of blogspot (though blogger.com has been a great and easy to use platform that is owned and therefor ranked well with Google), but more on that to come .If your on Instagram or Twitter please follow us on Twitter (@GiantsBlogger), where I've been having some pretty cool debates and discussions with fellow fans from around the league, and not only Giants fans. We'd like to get our Twitter presence elevated in 2018 and it would be a dream of mine if we can somehow hit 1,000 followers (I'll be following you guys back as well)... We also recently launched our Giants Baseball Blog Instagram as well, so go follow us there by clicking this link here (although it's not strictly Giants related as out Twitter feed is). So please guys, if your reading this, take the 30 extra seconds to go subscribe to our Twitter and our Instagram feeds. Once we hit a 1,000 followers on either platform, we can start doing regular giveaways like tickets, Giants merch, books and more.

Thanks again for being loyal readers in 2017 though guys. It was one of the toughest years of my life to date, and it's the reason why 2017 was probably our least posted year to date. Yes the team being terrible and just a drag to talk about on a daily basis with the same issues haunting them day in and day out. The big reason why my posting slowed during the season though was do to an illness in the family that ended up occupying a lot of my time rendering the Giants irrelevant for much of the summer to me personally. And all kidding aside, it ended up being a pretty darn good year to sort of fall out of the loop on things. Point is, there was a lot going on in my personal life this last year and it showed with the lack of posting and the lack of unique insight I try and bring to this website... RIP pop, you'll be forever missed and appreciated. You were the reason I fell in love with the game of baseball and became one of the biggest San Francisco Giants fan's on this earth! I can only hope that 2018 has some better luck in store for all of us!
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The Giants Baseball Blog
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5 Comments:

  • At 4:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'd like Gonzalez over Bruce personally. Bruce I could see coming here and hitting like .220 and att park taking away a lot of his power. Gonzo can at least hit for avg when his power goes.

     
  • At 1:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think it's about to pick up this week. JD Martinez is supposedly got a offer from Boston for 5 years, Farrell on the Bench just said that and there was one other big move I think about to happen he talked about but I forgot... BUt anyways, I think the Giants will have to strike for Bruce or whoever if Martinez signs cause then Bruce would become the best OF on the FA market then.

     
  • At 4:09 PM, Blogger mm said…

    If JD goes this week, then I think that SF has already set up the deal for JB Jr. Trouble is that JBJ is on $5.9M and that might not leave enough for Bruce or Gonzalez $15M+. Unless another salary is shed...but who would take Pence or Belt or Melancon? Plenty would take Samardzija but he's actually about ready to break out and have a dominant season so he's worth his $14M as the #3 starter. I think SF has to hope for a hitting corner OF out of Parker/Willimason/Slater/Shaw in LF, Bradley in CF, Pence in RF. When the time is right Duggar takes CF and Bradley moves to RF (that's stellar defense in triples alley) and the best of the rest is your LF. Any $$ left under the CBT goes for the bullpen...

     
  • At 12:47 AM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…

    I believe they're still around $25M under the taxing threshold but I'm not entirely sure on the exact number... CarGo really seems like the most logical, money wise, if he wants to come here (he's been terrible at AT&T). There are still 3 outfielders well ahead of him on the FA market still looking for jobs, and Gonzalez may have to settle for much less than I'm sure he was seeking and may even take ashort-term deal just to boost his value and re-enter the market next year. He won't bee 33 until after the season and if he puts up his typical, .290/25/90/.825, then he'll still be in position to land himself a lucrative, multi-year deal.

    But we also can't ignore the rotation. No, I'm not expecting Lynn or Cobb if they go the two outfielder route, but they need another major league starting pitcher who they can plug into the back-end of the rotation if need be. After Bumgarner, Cueto and Shark, things are very much up in the air. Stratton had a nice month of September and I don't mind handing him the fifth spot, but right now, he'd be your 4th guy and Blach would be fifth? For a team atill with mid-relief questions and one that probably won't out-slug teams to death (even if they add a Bruce/Cargo and JBJ), that rotation doesn't really cut it, IMO.

     
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