The San Francisco Giants are linked to everyone and anyone this offseason. After an incredibly disappointing 2018, all reports point to them finding a way to load up again and go for gold. Even Bryce Harper has been linked to the Bay Area squad. This is all fun for rumor mills and fans, but is it really the best idea and path for the franchise? Well…that’s up to you.
The Giants are at a crossroads. They have been less than inspiring since their exit against the Chicago Cubs in 2016. They still manage to be one of the most respected franchises in the game, due to their track record from the last decade, but there is an undeniable sense that their core is old. Not getting older…just old. Bumgarner and Panik are still looking at good years ahead, but Posey, Belt, Crawford, Longoria, Samardzija, and Cueto are all on the dark side of the moon in their careers.
When the whole core of your team is past its prime, it’s typically time to rebuild. That entails trading away the aging assets you have and acquiring young talent that becomes your next championship core. This is always easier when your own farm system has been built up and nurtured during the downfall of the team, and that’s where the Giants hit a snag.
Currently, San Francisco doesn’t have a phenom shooting through the minors to excite the team and fans alike. Their farm system flat-out sucks. Their top prospect is 25, whereas Mookie Betts just won the MVP at the age of 26. See the problem?
So, why not trade away the old guys? Well, that’s easier said than done. Remember that group of guys we talked about being on the wrong side of their careers? They also have terrible contracts. They are all overpaid for at least two or three more years. No contender would give up even a B-level prospect for the combination of heavy salary and diminishing talent that every Giants asset besides Bumgarner and Panik would provide.
How about trading Bumgarner? Well, that was a good idea LAST offseason, when he had two years left on his team-friendly deal. The lefty horse would have brought a Chris Sale-caliber package of two A+ prospects that could start any franchises reset in a heartbeat.
The problem with trading Bumgarner is that he has one year left on his contract, which drives his price tag down significantly. At this point, just try and re-sign the guy. He’ll be the pillar in the Giants’ organization that the Giants will need to start any new run in the future.
The Giants would be smart to trade Joe Panik, who had a down year but has a Gold Glove to his name and a bat that could help a contender. They should get a B-level prospect for him that could turn into something down the road.
To replace Panik, San Francisco should look to sign Marwin Gonzalez. Marwin gets to graduate from everyday platoon player to everyday second baseman. He should fetch a three-year deal worth roughly $45 million.
Next is the outfield, which needs a complete overhaul. The Giants have been linked to Harper, but I don’t think that’s how they fix this team. He’s probably going to fetch close to $40 million a year for 4 to 10 years. Hard pass.
Nick Markakis and Adam Jones are both veterans that can fill voids and produce at a high rate for two or three years, and they’ll cost less annually combined than if they went with the Harper option. A.J. Pollock is the big money item for the Giants. They’re already familiar with him and his speed and line-drive power should play in San Francisco. Pay him.
Finally, with Cueto spending all of 2019 recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Giants will need a starter. Nathan Eovaldi is coming off a World Series Championship and just dominated the best lineups in baseball. He would be a GREAT number two to Bumgarner in that big ballpark and weaker hitting National League. They should overpay for him now so he looks underpaid in a year. 4 years and $80 million.
While complete deconstruction would probably ideal, the Giants just can’t do it. They have put themselves in a hole, and the only way to get out of it is to dig through to the other side. Pay in and go for gold again.