Monday, October 2, 2017

Scouting the Offseason: By the Numbers

Giants management, from Larry Baer to Bruce Bochy is saying their roster needs some major changes.  Bruce Bochy talked about attacking the offseason and being aggressive.  Yet, the current roster and MLB rules have some restrictions that give them little flexibility as the Giants have a large core of players signed to big, lengthy contracts and MLB rules for exceeding the Competitive Balance Tax threshold are more severe than ever.  So how much wiggle room do the Giants have?

Here are some numbers taken from Cot's Baseball Contracts Tax Tracker:

For CBT purposes, the Giants have $155+ M committed to 9 players.  That does not include the option for Matt Moore which would add $9 M.  It also does not include arbitration salaries for 4 players: Joe Panik, Hunter Strickland, Will Smith and Cory Gearrin which could add another $10-$12 M(my wild guess).  That gets us to $175+ M for 14 players.  Add in another $6 M for the remaining minimum salary guys and you have $180 M.  The CBT threshold for 2018 is $197 M.  So, the Giants have 3 choices:  1.  They can limit their spending to about $15 M worth of added payroll this offseason and stay around the CBT limit.  2.  They can try to shed payroll to give themselves more room to spend.  The obvious candidates for cost cutting would be Matt Moore who they could release and Brandon Belt who they could trade.  Bobby Evans has already said they will pick up Moore's option and it is doubtful they can trade Belt and his full salary until he proves he is fully recovered from his concussion.  3.  They can choose to ignore the CBT threshold and simply pay the penalties a la the Dodgers of the past few seasons.  The problem with this strategy is the penalties are more than just money now.  They include the loss or lowering of draft picks which can ultimately impact organizational talent levels.


  1. I think you're right on all points and that they're handcuffed. They played 'one more shot at a ring' craps and threw snake-eyes. It happens. And I'm glad they at least tried even if it ended up not working out.

    1. Point: if it might have worked out in 2017, it still might work out in 2018 with the same guys minus Cain and Nunez but plus Dyson, Smith, Stratton, and rookies such as Slater, Arroyo, Duggar, and Shaw. Nobody save for Pence and Span, perhaps, has aged enough to be clearly in decline.

      Counterpoint: the payroll is still not socked with the Bum sum, the amount the team will need to keep Bumgarner a Giant till he too ages into serious decline or further. If they are handcuffed now, there's a whole great apparatus of fetters impending.

  2. Yes, I think we are stuck again in hoping some prospects really step up and veterans recover. Something like 1000-1500 outfielder ABs will go to not Span/Pence, and then there is the ? at 3rd-base for Panda+Prospect. Likewise, I think we need people to step up to the 4 and 5 starters. But even then an injury or month of suck from Bumgarner or Cueto probably sinks the ship before the prospects even have a chance to fail.

  3. Wouldn’t be surprised if they went with Belt in LF, Posey at 1B more regularly with Hundley being resigned. Then they could go after a CF.

    1. Honestly, I think Belt could be traded to 1st base needing club like the Cardinals who need to move Carpenter back to 3rd. And I think a good case can be made for a good return on the trade:

      1. On the road he projects to a 30+ HR hitter. And that was before the juiced ball of 2017. His HR problems are at ATT.
      2. He's a gold-glove level first baseman. There are other good first basemen who get more recognition, but since 2014 Belt has been the most consistently good first baseman in the MLB and is ranked #1 (defensively) by FanGraphs over that time.

      But as was pointed out, Belt's still suffering from concussion symptoms so it'd be kind of hard, at least for now.

    2. Not sure the Cardinals would move Carpenter back to 3rd for a whole season unless his right shoulder completely heals up over the offseason. I'd rather see the Giants hold on to Belt for one more season as a placeholder and then try to draft a hitter like Luken Baker or Seth Beer in the 2nd round. They have both dropped in the pre-draft rankings, probably due to the overall strength and depth of the draft class and the fact that both are defensively limited to 1B. As currently projected by BA they may very well be available when the Giants draft in round 2. They could be "Schwarber-like" and move quickly up through the minors, and hopefully be ready early in 2019.

  4. I wouldn't think they'd trade Belt unless they were sure that Shaw could handle the position and after last year with Arroyo they may be a bit gun shy about just trusting it will happen. We have Posey but then who you gonna have play catcher. As for Moore, we only have two starters we can depend on -- MadBum and Shark. We don't know what is happening with Cueto (that would take a bunch payroll off the books if he opts out) so until that happens, we're not going to let Moore go. Even if we have Cueto, you still have to fill two other spots. Blach did well but he seemed a bit more hittable at year end. Stratton pitched well but not sure the Giants want to could on two young guys. I think the bigger picture with payroll is Span and Pence where we just didn't get a lot of worth from then (until Pence late).

    Good news is that Pence and Span are off the books next year as is Cain's buyout. That will free up a bunch of money. I would also think if Belt comes back and proves he's fine (and we give Shaw a chance to prove he can hit), then we can trade Belt if we need to. Just may be that 2018 is a penalty. Is the penalty the type where it goes up over time? Doc--you mentioned some sanctions, do those kick in immediately or over time? If we have a window before they kick in and given what should happen in the ordinary course, maybe it is a huge issue to just let things ride for next year.

  5. Belt's one of the league's best at first and reasonably would probably not be happy about moving position to LF.

    Trading Belt and keeping Sandoval could set up Panda/Arroyo at third, Panda/Posey at first, which seems fairly solid (assuming Panda's bat is serviceable).

  6. Dr. B,

    Here are the bold predictions that you and a few of us put up before the season started. Fun to look at, of course feel free to rearrange the format, being that it is your site.
    Friday, March 31, 2017
    Random Bold Predictions for the 2017 MLB Season
    Predictions are silly but they are fun. They are even more fun if you go way out on a limb and don't expect many of them to actually happen. Here we go:
    1. Dexter Fowler will put up an fWAR of greater than 5.0 for the St Louis Cardinals.
    2. Addison Russell will hit more than 30 HR's for the Cubs.
    3. Greg Bird will hit more than 40 HR's for the Yankees.
    4. Mike Foltynewicz will pitch at least 180 innings with an ERA under 4.00 for the Braves.
    5. David Price will not pitch in 2017 for the Red Sox.
    6. Jharel Cotton will pitch at least 150 innings with an ERA of 3.50 or less for the Oakland A's.
    7. The Dodgers will experience a 100% turnover of their Starting Rotation by the end of the season.
    8. Giancarlo Stanton will stay healthy all season and hit at least 50 HR's.
    9. The Padres will lose at least 120 games.
    10. Aaron Altherr will hit at least 20 HR's and steal at least 20 bases for the Phillies.


  7. MosesZDApril 1, 2017 at 7:39 AM
    1. Bumgarner finally wins the Cy Young 230 IP, 2.65 ERA.

    2. The Cardinals improve to a 90-win team and give the Cubs a run for it as the Cubs suffer from some regression.

    3. The Giants win the division with 94 wins.

    4. Matt Moore regains most of his form (because Posey keeps his mechanics stable) and finishes the year 200+ IP with a 3.4ish ERA.

    5. Samardzija continues to drive fans nuts. At least three months of outstanding pitching sandwiched around two WTF months. Finishes season with a 3.7ish ERA.

    6. Marrero regresses to the AAAA player he's been for his career and Williamson is called up by June to take over LF where he locks it down for the starting role after the All-Star break, making Parker (essentially) a part-timer/bench player.

    7. Tyler Beede called up to replace Cain in early June. Puts up respectable numbers.

    8. Trea Turner swipes 60 bags and everyone (including me) wonders why they didn't draft him earlier in Fantasy Baseball.

    9. Yu Darvish wins the AL Cy Young while leading the MLB in strike outs.

    10. Brandon Belt becomes a Top-5 WAR 1B. Some fans still want to trade him for a bag of chips as he doesn't meet their belief in what 1B should be...

    1. lol. Yep. But they were 'bold' predictions. That means swinging for the fences in many cases. It was fun. If we do it again, I'll be as bold as this year. :)

  8. Friday, March 31, 2017
    jalanjalanApril 1, 2017 at 12:09 AM
    National League Predictions Only
    1. The Rockies Trevor Story, Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon and Carlos Gonzalez combine for 160 HRs. This power surge will lead to #2.

    2. The Colorado Rockies will start the season hot and be in first place until May 15th and remain competitive until the All-Star break when their pitching implodes once again.

    3. Chris Marrero becomes the starting LF and leads the SF Giants in HRs with 25.

    4. Billy Hamilton will steal 90 bases.

    5. Adam Duvall will hit 40 HRs.

    6. Madison Bumgarner will pitch 240 innings with a 2.60 ERA.

    7. The Andrew Miller Effect will spread with Padres Brad Hand, Cards Trevor Rosenthal, Cubs Mike Montgomery, Marlins David Phelps and Reds Raisel Iglesias all pitching 80 + innings.

    8. Noah Syndergaard wins NL Cy Young.

    9. Dodgers trade Yasiel Puig to the Yankees for a PTBNL.

    10. Reds and Brewers play a game at some point this season where each team has to pitch 2 position players because they emptied their bullpens in an extra inning slugfest.

    DrBGiantsfanApril 1, 2017 at 6:35 AM
    I'm going to say Thor undergoes Tommy John surgery in August.

    MosesZDApril 1, 2017 at 7:18 AM
    I have to agree with DB on Thor. The guys' mechanics just scream Tommy John sooner or later.

    AnonymousApril 1, 2017 at 2:45 AM
    Giants have the best staff since the 1954 Indians and sweep them in the WS (again).
    Matt Cain looks a lot like the 1954 Bob Feller and doesn't get into the series (either)!

  9. This last group of bold predictions wer mine and not a damn one of them came through.
    My bold predictions-0 for 10.

    1. While Blackmon and Arenado both ht 37 HRs, Story (24) and especially Cargo (14) fell way short.
    2. Rockies had 8th best pitching and grabbed a play-in wild card spot.
    3. Chris Marrero- Who?
    4. Billy Hamilton does not get n base enough nor stay healthy enough to steal 90 bases again.
    5. Duvall had a strong year, but hit 30 HR, not 40.
    6. Bumgarner had dirt bike accident- lost season.
    7. Iglesias logged 76 innings, Montgomery got lots of starts and finished with 130 innings, the others did not come close to 80 IP.
    8. Doc was right except Thor did not even make it out of April intact.
    9. Puig still a Dodger.
    10. No such game between the Reds and Brewers took place.

  10. SOmeone on Twitter was going on about hard contact rates based on his 'film study.' Not one Giant in the Top-62. So I went to the numbers are FanGraphs. Belt had a hard contact rate that was just a touch behind Stanton and a hair over Trout and made him one of the T0p-30 hard-contact hitters in MLB.

    So I don't get this guy's 'film study.'

  11. i think the best strategy next season would be to tread water and don't make a foolish signings and prepare for bochy to walk if things aren't any better next season. i think slater and parker might be good enough while waiting for pence and span to come off the books. it will not hurt to cut payroll next year to have the wiggle room for the better 2019 free agency class.