According to the Hunter Pence on Friday night, it appears the Giants may not be too far from locking up the awkward athlete from Fort Worth to a long-term deal. After achieving a 20-20 season, establishing career highs in HR and SB, and then playing in at least 160 games on his way to 162, I understand the enthusiasm for keeping a player like that on your squad. The amount of money it will take to lock him, or any other larger name free agent up before the 2014 season does make me a little nervous, but if you want to get established talent, a lot of times you’ll have to pay for it.
These are the Giants financial commitments that are set in stone for 2014, totaling up $85.55 million for eleven players (including two team options) according to this chart that’s on my computer. Other sites may be different by a couple million here and there.
This does not include guys like Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Heath Hembree, and Jake Dunning that will be back next year for six figure deals around a half mil. Now you have thirteen players, and let’s just add $6.2MM for Ryan Vogelsong‘s option to make it fourteen players to bring our number to around $93.75MM.
This leaves eleven spots to be filled. As for the 2013 budget, Cot’s has it being close to $137MM while I have it at $138MM. Since watching baseball isn’t getting any cheaper in San Francisco, I’m going to say the Giants will raise their self-imposed cap to $140MM just for the sake of round numbers. I have this feeling that Hunter Pence and Javier Lopez are going to be overpaid, but by how much is the millions of dollars question. Now we’re down to nine spots to fill on our spreadsheets of rosterbation. Here’s what the Giants would have left to fill:
- Left Field — is the answer a platoon? Gregor Blanco actually hasn’t had an awful year and has been around league average in wRC+ against RHP. Andres Torres wasn’t bad against LHP, either, but his defense was concerning.
- Starting pitchers four and five — Brian Sabean talked about depth being a big issue, but will Tim Lincecum, Chad Gaudin, and Yusmeiro Petit be enough? Do they even sign Tim Lincecum? Sabes also talking about pushing the youth, if necessary (although he didn’t necessarily mention one facet of the team), so if people out there speculate that Edwin Escobar and/or Kyle Crick gets a shot, you know where that’s coming from.
- Backup catcher — it’s probably Hector Sanchez
- Backup infielders one and two — Tony Abreu and Joaquin Arias get the playing time now, but do they stay? What about Brett Pill? Ehire Adrianza?
- Backup outfielders one and two — I’m not convinced Andres Torres stays. Maybe he’s better suited for the AL as a platoon DH? Does Juan Perez stay on or will the Giants like what they see in Francisco Peguero? Roger Kieschnick strikes out a helluvalot, though to his credit, his has brought it down to around 30%.
- Bullpen arm number seven — A battle between Michael Kickham, Jean Machi, George Kontos, and probably some non-roster invitees. The leftovers from Lincecum-Gaudin-Petit could be here as well.
Assuming that you have roughly $46MM to spend to fill eleven spots, with perhaps around 50% of that coming from Pence and Lopez’s new deals, how much of that $20-something million is left for the rest? Tim Lincecum eats up at least $13-14MM, doesn’t he? Now you have less than $10MM to work with for 2014 and you still have eight players, Blanco being the most expensive of the bunch. Six of the young guys probably will cost you around $3-4MM. The rest of the guys can be signed within what’s left and still have room to make a seven figure purchase for one of these options, and that’s if Lincecum, Pence, or someone else doesn’t take more money to sign. A big if, indeed.
This was all assuming that the cap is at $140MM and the Giants don’t drop some big coin on a prospect from out of town. If the Giants increase their budget to try and land the next Yasiel Puig and it works then so be it.
We all hope the Giants do something spectacular to improve their team this off-season rather than the “bring back the gang” routine that has been so popular after a World Series run, but they don’t have a multi-billion dollar TV deal to pay off their roster, so we’ll just have to live with what ownership has to work with as they look with a team that can compete with that team that won the West in 2013.