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Saturday, January 06, 2018

Giants' fans still waiting on next move

We're now about a week into the new year and baseball business is beginning to pick up a little bit of steam, at least rumor wise. J.D. Martinez seems destined for Boston, and that should kick things into gear a bit on the free agency front and it appears all of the Giants potential options have now come to the forefront and it shouldn't be much longer before we see the next addition for the 2018 roster.

So far, the names linked to the Giants have included about a half-dozen outfielders, as the team still has two gaping holes in left and center, and they're going to hope like heck they can land two of those 6-8 guys that have been linked to them or have been discussed by the team. The primary names linked to the team have been Jay Bruce, Carlos Gonzalez, Jackie Bradley Jr., Billy Hamilton, Andrew McCutchen, Christian Yellich (although a long shot) and Jarrod Dyson. If I were to bet right this second on the most likely of the six to join the squad, I'd go with either CarGo or Bruce taking over a corner spot and Jarrod Dyson signed to play center. However, if they could somehow figure out a way to land both CarGo/Bruce for left and McCutchen for center, it would completely revamp their lineup and set theme up to be a force in 2018. The thing is, if they indeed brought in a Gonzalez on a new deal and absorbed most of McCutchen's $16M salary for 2018, it would put them well over the luxury tax threshold. So unless they get creative and defer some money, or maybe drop another big contract (which doesn't seem likely unless they found someone to take Belt and felt like Chris Shaw could take over 1B in 2018), they probably are only settling for one bigger budget signing or trade and a much smaller budget signing/trade for their outfield. With whatever may be leftover after that, they could look into pitching depth, but that does not seem high on their priority list.

I really want to be optimistic about 2018, and be able to truly consider the Giants much improved from 2017 and a playoff contender next season, but I just don't see how they're going to be able to make the additions they absolutely need without getting into collective bargaining luxury tax penalty range. I mean, let's say they do finagle a trade for McCuthchen, or sign Bruce/CarGo and Dyson, it would still leave the Giants with question marks in right field, their bench, and the back-end of their rotation. In an ideal world, they could use another reliable late-reliever to throw in the mix, preferably left-handed, but two outfielders and a back-end starter completely outweigh any bullpen needs.

The Giants' pen, if healthy, should be improved significantly in 2018. Mark Melancon should be back in top-end closer form and hopefully Will Smith will be back in his Milwaukee Brewer form after his major surgery last spring. If that's the case, then they'd be set at the back-end of the pen with Melancon closing and Hunter Strickland and Smith being the primary set-up guys. The mid-relief isn't terrible, but they need Derek Law back closer to his 2016 form rather than last years 5.00+ ERA and ridiculous 1.57 WHIP output. Cory Gearin is coming off a solid season and should have his spot locked in either as a  long reliever or in mid-relief and Sam Dyson, who thrived for the most part as the Giants closer in the seasons final two months, should find himself in some sort of role in the '18 pen.

Sam Dyson's situation is tricky to predict though as he could settle in anywhere from being a set-up
man to Melancon to being in middle relief or ending up not earning a job out of spring at all. I mean, he's had such a bizarre couple of seasons after having a very successful run in 2016 as Texas' closer, it looked like that would be his job for the next few years at least, but he was so poor for the Rangers to start the year, that they essentially forgot about his 38-save campaign the season prior and cut him loose. He then came over to the Giants and took over the closers job and did a decent job, posting 14 saves and a 4.03 ERA in two months as the teams closer, although they'd like to see that 1.42 WHIP he posted drop at least a tenth of a point and that ERA drop under 4.00, which he's more than capable of doing seeing as he's sported an ERA in the mid-3's on average throughout his career. Dyson could end up being a centerpiece in this bullpen or completely irrelevant but the Giants need him to be the former if they want this bullpen to have the depth to compete.

The starting rotation though is an area, again, I'm very surprised has not gotten more attention this winter. The reason I find that ironic is because, in everyone of their championship runs, they were led with an outstanding rotation and a solid bullpen. Their pen had some questions in some of the tittle runs, but for the most part was reliable and when they weren't they had MadBum fall back on. So I find it ironic that a team who won three tittles this decade on the backs of their starting pitching has totally neglected their starting rotation this winter and hasn't really made much chatter at all about trying to improve upon what was their worst rotation in 9 years last summer. I know their offense was atrocious last year, and they have to do everything they can in attempt to right that ship, but they never needed a top of the line offense when they had their rotation/bullpen clicking on all cylinders. So, unless they landed a flat out difference maker and game  changer like they tried so hard to do with Giancarlo Stanton, as well as a legit center fielder like a Christian Yellich or McCutchen, this lineup wasn't and isn't going to carry this ball club on it's own.

Right now they have Madison Bumgarner, who's a true ace and perfect guy atop the rotation, however he himself is coming off a year in which he missed 3 months and wasn't necessarily the lights-out, tough to hit and score upon pitcher we've seen in years past. Granted, he threw well for the most part after his return, just not quite up to his expectations I'm sure. But he's now had an offseason to recover and the missed time in 2017 may have been a blessing in disguise seeing as the Giants weren't going anywhere even had MadBum stayed on the field all year. Instead, he got some major rest in 2017 and should be the most fresh he's ever been heading into a season this spring. Aside from Bumgarner, Cueto too had injuries he dealt with for most the year, and was pretty darn mediocre when he was on the mound and was no where near the pitcher he was in '16.

Then there's the Samardzija, who despite his 15 losses and 4.42 ERA, was arguably the teams most reliable starter from start to finish. Despite the higher ERA, he posted a very solid 1.13 WHIP, which is right around what MadBum usually posts, plus "Shark" led the team with 205 K's and 207 innings of work. As for the coming season, I think MadBum will be back to his usual form, and I expect improvement from Cueto. Although I don't think we'll get another 2016-level performance from the number 2 starter, 200 innings pitched, a sub-4 ERA and a WHIP at 1.25 or lower would be acceptable compared to last years 4.52 ERA, 1.44 WHIP and only 147 innings pitched. As for projected number-3 Samardzija, I would take a repeat of last years performance, with hopefully a more reliable bullpen and a little more offense could flip-flop his win-loss numbers from a year ago and also see that ERA drop back down below 4.00 as well, where he was in his first year with the club in 2016 (3.81 ERA).

Again though, those are some big questions and a lot of things that need to get back on track for the Giants front-3 starters so they could certainly use some stability at the bottom half of the rotation. As I've said all offseason, I'm completely content with Chris Stratton being the 5th guy, but if it's Blach as the fifth guy and Stratton bumped up to 4th then this rotation just isn't as strong as it's been in years past. It's certainly not a rotation I see competing with the likes of Arizona, Colorado and the other Wild Card contenders, especially on a team with a mediocre offense and without a lights-out, shut down bullpen, or at least not that we've seen thus far.

I get all the attention that's being given to upgrading the outfield/offense, but even if they do accomplish what they want in that area, I don't know that they'll have the pitching depth to to be world series contenders like they want to be next season. Of course, Stratton could become the next big arm to come up through the system and build off his solid 2017 showing and maybe Tyler Beede bursts onto the scene in 2018 in a big way, but you can't bank on that, and the Giants cannot just completely ignore their rotation before spring training. I don't expect anything big, but a Jeremy Hellickson, Jaime Garcia or R.A. Dickey may not be bad, cheap one-year options to throw into the rotation mix. I would prefer to have Blach as the long reliever/spot starter if needed and I don't think Tyler Beede is quite ready, so another veteran with a history of some success could do a lot for this rotation. They simply can't forget about the area of their team that's been the focal point of their success, that being the starting rotation!
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The Giants Baseball Blog
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9 Comments:

  • At 2:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think its gonna be Carlos Gonzales and Jarrod Dyson. The Giants don't wanna give up anymore prospects so I doubt theyll get "McClutch" or Bradley and Billy hamilton is trash.

     
  • At 9:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    If I'm CarGo and the Astros, Giants, and Padres are all offering me a contract I think it's a no brainer to go to the Astros. He's left handed and coming off of another injured season. I just don't see him coming to #BashInTheBay. However if he and Dyson would both accept short term deals combining for 10miL/season the Giants still might be able to add a starter looking for a bounce back year in baseball's most favorable pitchers park and a name brand reliever too. I think Bruce is the only hitter that actually wants to be a Giant though and he'll want 10miL per year at minimum. That doesn't leave much of the roughly 15miL they have to stay under the luxury tax.

    Correct me if I'm wrong though but from what I understand in figuring luxury tax purposes the avg contract salary is used not the salary for that particular year. So getting creative with deals doesn't help in that regard. So either they just go all in and go over the luxury tax limit and just add guys to win now or we're going to do this dance of adding mediocre players to stay under the limit and be crossing our fingers that they are competitive by the trade deadline.

     
  • At 9:30 PM, Blogger Thomas McDermott said…

    The Giants should sign Carlos Gomez and Carlos Gonzalez and go #CarGoSquared

     
  • At 1:10 PM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…

    I'd take Gomez in center for 2 years in a heartbeat, but I hear he's likely not going to be as cheap as we may think and probably wouldn't allow them enough dough left over to sign the other CarGo. I thought the Giants were around 25M below the CBT after the Longoria trade, but I read yesterday it's actually somewhere between $15M-$20M. Cameron Maybin will be cheaper would provide similar strong defense in center, but his bat has a very low floor and not nearly the ceiling that Gomez has. Baseball Ref. does have Cam projected at .262/10/47/.727 and 21 SB in 464 PA though which isn't too shabby. And if you project that out as a full-time player then the numbers increase by about 1/3. Ben Revere is also someone who hasn't been mentioned who can go get it in center, but he's one of baseball's least dangerous hitters as evident by his .343 slugging percentage and a total of 7 home runs in his 8 year career.

    On a side note, I just noticed Michael Saunders way down there at the bottom of the FA list, and he was just an all-star in 2016. If they could nab him on a minor league deal or something very team friendly like that, he may not be bad insurance for Pence in right field.

     
  • At 7:36 PM, Blogger mm said…

    Maybe they should just suck it up and sign Lorenzo Cain - he's so much better than all the other options - he can slide to RF after a year in CF and if he slows down more he can slide to LF. If they're really going for it this year, he's the best option. You lose the draft picks but it's just like trading prospects and they've already shown willingness to part with #1 prospect Arroyo.

     
  • At 3:20 AM, Anonymous Corey Gunz said…

    id pass on lorenzo cain, even if they didn't have to give up the draft picks to sign him, i still don't want him. We need power. I'd so much rather have McCutchen and he/s probably cheaper anyway.

    -CG

     
  • At 11:38 PM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…

    Yeah, Im not huge on Lorenzo Cain either. I think he'd essentially be a step up from Span at the plate but not a whole lot better. In center he's heads and shoulders above the recently departed Giants but I don't want another center fielder on the wrong side of 30 who's best days are behind them on a long term deal. That's what makes trading for McCutchen a little more enticing. You wouldn't be tied to him beyond next season, essentially giving him a 1-year tryout to see if they would want to extend him next winter. But Cain isn't going to be more than a .290 hitter with mediocre power and really mediocre offensive stats across the board, especially playing half his games at AT&T.

    I personally think it would be wiser to get a corner guy that can rake and bring more pop and production than Cain and get your defensive guy for center on the cheap, a la Jarrod Dyson or maybe Carlos Gomez, although I hear Gomez feels he should be getting closer to what the upper echelon outfielders are getting rather than the middle of type FA he is in this class. I'd give Gomez 2 years and $12M and he would probably rival Cain's stats by the end of the year, so long as he stays healthy, and Cain's going to get upwards of $100M.

    So I'm firmly against signing Lorenzon Cain. Not because I don't think he's a fine player and a very good outfielder, but because he just doesn't fit what the Giants offensive needs are and would command so much $$$ that it would handicap them in terms of doing much else.

     
  • At 11:52 PM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…

    Adding one more thing to my last comment; If Cain were a FA after the 2015 season when they inked Denard Span, he woulda been an ideal fit on that team, but timing is a big part of baseball and free agency and I don't think their timing is in line for that type of player this offseason. And by all accounts I've heard, I don't think the Giants are even considering him at this point.

    Question for the ppl who want Cain in a Giants uni though. Hypothetically, would you like to see them sign Cain only and make no other additions and lose 2 high draft picks in a year where they have great draft positioning, Or would you rather them sign a BRuce/CarGo and sign either Jarrod Dyson or trade for Billy Hamilton or Andrew McCutchen? I don't think they could sign Bruce and trade for McCutchen, but I would rather go all out and say middle finger to the luxury tax limit and go for it, this lineup would be pretty fricken sick and heads and shoulders above anything they've had since probably their 2012 squad:

    CF McCutchen
    2B Panik
    C Posey
    LF Bruce
    3B Longoria
    SS Crawford
    RF Pence
    1B Belt

    Then, since your already going over the luxury tax limit, might as well go even bigger in terms of pitching and bring in a Lance Lynn or Alex Cobb to take that 3rd or 4th rotation spot. Hey, it's not our money right? And the Giants have made sooooooo much dough over the last decade and could probabbly afford the $25M penalty that the violation would run them (I beleive that's the penalty price but not 100% on that).

     
  • At 11:56 PM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…

    Ok, Bruce is heading back to NY on a 3 yr deal, more on that in tomorrows post. Now my guess is the Giants main FA target should be Carlos GOnzalez. They're expected to go next level on their pursuit of other outfielders, again more on that tomorrow, but I think Bruce's signing should finally start to set in motion some things, especially for SF.

    Also, a correction on my part, I thought I read that they were roughly 20M below the Luxury Tax limit after the Longoria trade, but now I hear it's closer to 15M, which makes things significan't harder considering they need at least two outfielders and hopefully another starter and releiever. That's more like 30M worth of needs so should be mighty interesting to see how Evans, Sabes and Co. go about the next few weeks.

    Post tomorrow though going more into depth about these things and more. We're pnly a short month away from reporting dates so we're getting toward the end of the offseason guys, and although things are slowly picking up, there's still more guys looking for homes than have found them amongst the top-25 FA's...

     

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