|I want 100 of these...|
(insert sarcastic gasps and applause)
And because the Giants missed the playoffs with largely the same team that won the 2012 World Series, there are many schools of thought as to how this team should be built for 2014 in order to vie for the title next year.
But, here's where I tell you what I would do. Yes, I have become the new GM of the Giants and I make the decisions now, so here we go.
2014 Payroll Situation
In 2013 the payroll sat at $136 million, just $5 million more than the payroll in 2012 and the Giants brought back almost every member of that 2012 squad.
In 2014, there will be 4 notable free agent contracts that will be coming off the books: Barry Zito, Tim Lincecum, Javier Lopez and Hunter Pence. Their combined salary that is coming off the books is $53,300,000, or nearly 40% of the current payroll. This assumes that the Giants simply pay Zito his $7 million buyout.
Who I Want and for How Much
I've always had a soft spot for Barry Zito, I never thought it was his fault that he was given a fat check every two weeks for being a mediocre pitcher. Brian Sabean weighed his options and he took that chance. 7 years and 2 World Series' later, even Sabes admitted he would've made the same decision all over again.
That being said neither I nor Sabean would be fool enough to sign Zito back unless there was a way to exercise the buyout and then sign him to a minor league deal. Even then, if the goal here is to go back to the World Series, I think Zito's days as a Giant are done.
Don't sign Zito
Tim Lincecum is a tougher case. We already know what he means to this city, and I understand it more than most. But is Timmy a viable starter for this rotation and if so, what is the price tag on the new Tim Lincecum?
Timmy has shown one thing this year that may have increased his value to potential suitors around the league. That he has discovered a way to pitch without his velocity. That's a very important step, because any deal that would be longer than 2 years would require a team to have some faith that he would keep producing throughout the contract.
Since I know that as long as the Giants offer him a qualifying offer of probably $14 million annually, any team outside of the bottom 10 teams in the league would be required to give up their first round pick to the Giants in order to sign Lincecum.
I think I give Timmy 2 options. #1 a 2 year $30 million contract or a 1 year $15 million deal which could possibly act as a pillow contract for an even better deal later on. Timmy has been known to like shorter term deals to keep his options open.
Sign Timmy for $15 million AAV (average annual value)
Hunter Pence has to be a Giant, he wants to be a Giant, Giants fans love him and want him to come back. How could I not re-sign this guy? Well the answer is I have to re-sign him. Here's the problem. This one more so than Timmy may not be the Giants' decision. With a free agent market that is pitifully low on talent especially power hitting, Hunter Pence is going to garner a lot of attention.
Last year, BJ Upton took the honors for having the most lucrative contract signed by a free agent outfielder with a 5 year $75 million deal. We knew then, that it was a massive overpay, and boy were we right. BJ Upton followed the signing with one of his worst seasons of his career hitting only .184 and only 9 home runs, both career lows.
But Hunter hits for more average, more power and is only a year older than Upton. So does he deserve an even larger deal? My thought is that although he may not deserve it, he may be offered something in the $16-17 million AAV range for 4 years and the Giants may need to match it to keep him.
I'll go as high as $16 million a year for 4 years and if Hunter is serious about staying it gives him reason enough to stay.
Sign Hunter for $16 million AAV
spend extra $2,200,000
Javier Lopez is possibly the best lefty specialist in the game and is incredibly valuable to this team when they're in a playoff race. To let him go would be to say we wont be in those situations next year. I think if he will accept an identical deal as the one he had 2 years ago I would take that. 2 years $8.5 million. If he has a better deal elsewhere and wants to make a move, then happy trails Javy.
Sign Javier Lopez
no payroll change
For those keeping score, there's a net savings of $18,050,000 to keep Lopez, Lincecum and Pence and letting Zito go. 20,050,000 once you include Andres Torres who I say we don't re-sign either, sorry ladies and fashionistas.
But before you start looking at other big name free agents to sign this winter, don't forget about the raises.
Sandoval + 2,500,000
Posey + 7,500,000
Romo + 2,000,000
Bumgarner + 3,000,000
So the Giants have really only cut $5,050,000 by keeping the same guys as last year.
What could I do with around $5,000,000 to keep this team competitive next year? Well a hint is to look at our hated rivals down south. The Dodgers were dead in the water this year until they called up an arrogant young Cuban kid they had signed, Yasiel Puig.
This year's version of Puig is Jose Abreu, another Cuban phenom who has less defensive prowess and can only really play at 1st base, but could possibly have even more power than Puig.
One of the biggest problems with the 2013 Giants was the gaping hole in left field which was magnified when Angel Pagan went down. Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres have proven they are not everyday players and the Giants cannot be successful if bench players are forced into everyday roles. If the Giants can sign Abreu and at some point in the 2014 season bring him up to the big leagues and move Brandon Belt to left field when Abreu becomes established as a major league hitter.
Money wise, if we look at Puig's contract as a jumping off point, Puig was granted a 7 year $42 million contract. The problem is that with the success Puig is having, I'm thinking that Abreu will command more than $6 AAV despite the risk involved.
I would go as high as $8 million AAV with a lower amount of years. more like 3-4 than 7.
Future 1st Baseman, Jose Abreu for $8 million AAV.
To replace Zito the Giants suddenly have an actual competition for the 5th spot in the rotation. Chad Gaudin filled in like a champ this year before he got injured. On the flip side, career minor leaguer Yusmeiro Petit had a great end of the season including his nearly perfect game. I'd be happy to lock in the top 4 starters with Bumgarner, Cain, Vogelsong, and Lincecum and adding a Gaudin or Petit based on their performance in spring training. I think regardless of who wins that 5th starter job, I keep the other guy as my long reliever.
Here's my 2014 roster (including Jose Abreu who probably wont be added til a month or so into the season at the earliest)
MY 2014 San Francisco Giants
Catcher - Buster Posey
1st Base - Jose Abreu
2nd Base - Marco Scutaro
3rd Base - Pablo Sandoval
Shortstop - Brandon Crawford
Left Fielder - Brandon Belt
Center Fielder - Angel Pagan
Right Fielder - Hunter Pence
Joaquin Arias - INF
Juan Perez -OF
Hector Sanchez - C
Gregor Blanco - OF
Tony Abreu - INF
Laws of the Day
The last time a team won 3 World Series' within a 6 year span were the New York Yankees when they won their 3rd in 4 years in 1999. That team will forever be etched in history as the dynasty of the 90s. The Giants have that opportunity in the 2010s.