Monday, October 17, 2016

State of the Giants 2016-2017: Departing Free Agents

The Giants have 8 free agents coming off the current 40 man roster, 6 of whom have been key role players in at least 1 championship season and in most cases, multiple championships.  Ordinarily, you would expect a lot of hand wringing and calls for the Giants to overpay to keep the gang together for 1 or 2 more runs, but this time the departures represent an opportunity for the team to get younger and better.  The Giants have in-house replacements for all of the free agents and need the money saved from  their contracts to go out and get themselves a frontline Closer.  Let's break it down(I'll list the player, age, 2016 Salary/AAV in $ M):

Santiago Casilla RHP:  36 yo, 6.5/6.5.  Casilla has been a warrior through 3 championship seasons.  He actually had his best season by K/BB in 2016 and it's not close.  The problem is the 9'th inning seemed to get into his head.  If Bruce Bochy didn't lose faith in him, the fan base certainly did. It became impossible at the end of the season for Boch to even think about sending him out there for the 9'th inning.  Casilla could probably still be a very effective 7'th inning reliever, but you don't pay those guys $6.5 M.  He'll probably have to take a large pay cut in free agency, but it's more palatable with another team.  The Giants have plenty of 7'th inning guy on the roster.  Chances of Return:  5%.

Sergio Romo RHP:  34 yo, 8/7.5.  What a career Romo has had with the Giants, and an unlikely one at that!  Romo pitched effectively when he pitched in 2016, but spent half the season on the DL with a forearm strain.  He would have to take a huge pay cut to come back and again, the Giants have other options for the 7'th and 8'th inning.  Chances of Return:  20%.

Javier Lopez LHP:  39 yo, $5/4.3.  Another legendary Giant from the championship seasons, Lopez walking the lefthanded hitting Anthony Rizzo in the 9'th inning of the final game meltdown was a microcosm of his 2016 season.  He's a lefty hitter killer who couldn't get lefty hitters out, especially in high leverage situations.  Again, the Giants have younger, cheaper options from the left side in the bullpen in Steven Okert, Josh Osich and even Ty Blach.  Chances of Return:  5%

Jake Peavy RHP:  36 yo, 13/12.  Peavy was not a factor from midseason on.  He tried to re-invent himself as a long reliever with mixed success.  If he wants to continue his career he'll have to accept a huge reduction in salary and it will almost certainly be with another team.  Chances of Return:  Less than 5%.

Angel Pagan OF:  35 yo, 10/10.  Pagan actually had one of his most consistent seasons at the plate and set a personal record for HR's in a season.  There was talk that the Giants might be interested in bringing him back on a short term contract.  That probably evaporated when he didn't answer the bell for the final 2 games of the NLDS complaining of back spasms.  Whatever the Giants think of Pagan's health problems probably does not matter.  They need to go with someone younger and more reliable physically.  Chances of Return:  Less than 5%.

Gregor Blanco OF:  33 yo, 3.9/3.75.  Blanco was the best 4'th OF in baseball from 2012-2015 and played a major role in helping them win 2 championships.  He's coming off a down season at age 33 and is getting expensive.  Gorkys Hernandez is younger and faster.  Chances of Return:  10%.

Joe Nathan RHP:  42 yo, .5/.5(prorated).  Cot's contracts has Nathan down for a $1.5 M team option for 2017.  The Giants won't pick that up and Nathan will be a FA.  In September, with the bullpen in full meltdown, Bochy gave him one shot at a high leverage situation which did not go well.  Boch pretty much forgot about him after that.  I suppose there is a small chance he may be back on a minor league deal.  Chances of Return:  20%(minor league deal only).

Gordon Beckham IF:  30 yo, 1.25/1.25(prorated).  Beckham reportedly brought a breath of fresh air into a stale clubhouse in his very short stint with the Giants in September.  Alex P reports that the Giants would like him back.  I'm having a hard time seeing how he fits on the 25 man active roster, so I think it will be only on a minor league deal unless the Giants think he can play SS in a pinch.  Chances of return:  25%.

These departures will free up over $45 M in payroll.  Some of that goes to scheduled pay raises for current players.  Most of the rest will probably go toward bringing in a frontline closer as the Giants have younger and cheaper in-house replacements for each of these free agents.


  1. I would be surprised if the Giants resigned any of them. Still getting a little sentimental about them. Even though 2010 was the first championship after years and years of disappointments, with the rookie phenoms Posey and MadBum and Timmy was still dominate. 2012 will probably always be my favorite team. Dodgers make one of the biggest deals in baseball history? Sit down meat! Giants get Scutaro, Pence and have the most dramatic against the ropes World Series title run ever. Pagan, Blanco and the last of the "Core Four" were big parts of that. Pagan and Blanco each hitting HRs in the first and second innings respectively in the last game of the 2012 NLDS. Blanco's amazing catch in Cain's perfect game. Romo, Lopez and Casilla. The last of the " Core Four". The iconic bullpen group ( At least in the bay area.) that closed the door on the opposition for three world series titles. This is a huge page the Giants are turning in their book. Even Peavy to a lesser extent, who if not for his pitching during the final stretch in 2014, the Giants probably would have not made the post season. No more Romo Bombs in the bullpen. No more of Pagan's salutes after a hit. All these players may not be what they were, but I am going to miss them.

  2. " the Giants have younger and cheaper in-house replacements for each of these free agents."

    Yes, but with how the offense went into a total tailspin over the 2nd half - clearly effecting their mental approach - I don't think the team can afford to go into next season and just say, "well, I hope this goes better next year, even though it's exactly the same cast."

    They need a shake-up. And if that's not in Free Agency, then the FO is going to need to get creative. Maybe that means you go wild and trade Hunter Pence and Joe Panik for Ian Kinsler, or something. But you can't run the same group of hitters out there again and risk them all tumbling into another tailspin that effects their collective abilities to PULL THEIR HEAD OUT!

    If they had the resources, I'd be a huge advocate of making a major play for Yonis Cespedes - cocky player, incredible bat, confidence for days. Would really change the clubhouse chemistry, and I think these guys need that!

    However, the first priority on this team is a closer, and I don't think that they have the resources to spend on both positions and make massive upgrades. If they did, however, I'd be first in line to advocate.

    Williamson and Slater have tremendous potential that I can get behind, but not the kind that you count on to change the offensive dynamic in a single season, for a team that will again be competing for the championship.

    1. The Luxury Tax Cap is $189 million. The active payroll (SportTrac) will be $142.6 million. That's $46 million. Currently Jorge De La Rosa is MLB's top-paid reliever at $12.5 million/year. (Well, not including Peavy & Cain who made $22 & $15 million but are relievers playing on starter contracts.)

      And maybe I'm wrong, but I shouldn't expect a top-reliever, like Chapman to get more than $15 million/year ($75M/5) and Jansen to get more than $14 million/year $70M/5). But even if it was $20 million a year, there's still $26 million left if they want to pursue others.

      And while he's not considered a Top-10 potential contract, like Jansen and Chapman, at MLB Trade Rumors, there's Mark Melancon. He pulled 47 saves in 51 opportunities this year for the Pirates then Nationals and is a 3X All-Star. So he's not chopped liver and, at 31, might be a bit more sign-able.

    2. The moneys are so dang complex to figure out right now. Those are the numbers I get, too, Moses - But McC, here, and other places, I get the sense that the true available salary is closer to $15-20mil. I wish someone would lay it out in a simple & definitive manner!

      That said, I haven't read the Doc's newest post, so.... Perhaps wish granted??!

    3. There's a good article that I reread a little closer and gave me the needed insight - it's up on McCovey Chron if anybody pleases. Unfortunately, it looks like less than we'd like, when you do the simple accounting - However, all of that changes if the new CBA significantly raises the cap space, which is pretty likely.

      Here's the math: Though the cap is $189mil, remember that there's an initial big hit for player's medical+benefits that's counted against the cap but isn't seen in the total contract dollar amount. Hence, the actual cap max is around $179. When you take the $142 you mentioned, it's not accounting for the AAV, versus the pure dollar amount in 2017, and probably isn't accounting for the remaining role players on the roster (bench + bullpen who are as-yet unsigned/arbitrated).

      When the author of the above article put it together on a spreadsheet only including the VERY probable members of the 2017 roster (Tomlinson, Gillaspie, full bullpen sans closer & no FA re-signings) the principal comes out to $163mil.

      So.... Yeah, dang! Hope the cap goes up because that's only JUST enough to grab a closer and little else.

      That's why I'm a big advocate for trading high cost contracts and leveraging them to get some big pieces. It's the only way to add talent, and one of Belt/Pence/Samardzia might have to go... Not that I'd like to see ANY of those three go!!!

  3. Mostly, I agree with your assessment, but I would not be at all surprised to see Romo come back. He's fit in well with Bochy and the team, and was effective when healthy (although not as a 'closer'), and seems happy enough to accept a lower salary (he can still do commercials to boost his income).
    Nathan, Beckham, and really any of the rest might show back up on a minor league deal, and it wouldn't be surprising. The Giants have a history of doing that with multiple players who might help down the road.

    1. Yeah, I think said yesterday or the day before that Romo coming back might be on the radar. And Pagan might, too, though I have strong doubts to that...

    2. I think Pagan punched his ticket out of town when he didn't answer the bell in Games 3 and 4 of the NLDS.