As I watch the 2013 Postseason, I can’t help but find myself fantasizing of the San Francisco Giants returning to October. It wasn’t an easy season but with the ups and downs, San Francisco has the pieces to dominate and win another World Series. Watching the potential free agents gives you an idea of the strength of the 2014 class. Some of the front runners are Matt Garza, Robinson Cano, Shin Shoo Choo, and Brian McCann, which will command a large investment and perhaps a draft pick compensation. Throughout this article, I will discuss what are some realistic and affordable moves the Giants can make in order to reestablish itself as cream of the crop in the National League.
The Giants were able to win two championships because of it’s outstanding arms. With Barry Zito, Tim Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong on the way out, it’s time to examine what options exist in free agency and the trade market. I fully anticipate the front office to decline Zito’s and Vogey’s option; with Vogelsong receiving a new one year contract. Despite his down numbers, the Giants were able to rely on Vogey for two of the past three seasons. This one year deal is to measure how much he has in the tank. Also, Chad Gaudin, despite his Las Vegas issue, could possibly be given a new one year deal. Lincecum credited his success to Gaudin’s advice. If Lincecum signs with another club, Gaudin wouldn’t be a necessity. Unlike Vogelsong, other clubs could persuade Gaudin to leave with more money or more years. These two options can boost a weak rotation and help fill the number four and five spot in the rotation. Tim Lincecum, who has been a staple of the rotation for years, is a free agent and could possibly leave. As a fan, I do not want to see Big Time Timmy Jim go. But as a sports writer, I find it difficult for the Giants to offer more than 5 years $100 million, which Lincecum turned down last season. It would be a tough pill to swallow but the right move would be to offer two contracts. A four year $100 million contract;if he declines, a one year quality offer worth about $14 million in order to receive a first round draft pick if he signs with another club. The Giants had an opportunity to trade Lincecum this past season to the Detroit Tigers. By not dealing Lincecum, San Francisco shows confidence in resigning him. I am very skeptical because of the multiple comments he has made about the media criticism, which means he could favor a small market team, like Seattle. Only time will tell what the two time cy young winner will decide.
The 2014 free agent class has some intriguing names. Popular names mean expensive and high demand. Luckily, San Francisco is a popular destination for arms. The dimensions of At&t Park provide a pitcher friendly ballpark that can make dreams come true, just like Matt Cain’s. In order to compete against the Dodgers, the Giants will need to spend, since Los Angeles is looking to sign a few arms themselves. In my last article, I mentioned Bronson Arroyo, Ricky Nolasco and Masahiro Tanaka. Arroyo is still a possible since he’s looking for a three year contract. He has solid numbers and a Major League inning eater. Nolasco, if not resigned by the Dodgers, has an outstanding lifetime ERA at At&t Park. Tanaka, who has yet to be posted, will receive the most attention and money. The Giants will be players in bidding, but ultimately the New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, Arizona Diamondbacks, or Los Angeles Dodgers will win his services. In free agency, I would love to see the Giants go after Tim Hudson. Despite his 2012 injury, in his finally ten outings he registered a 2.73 ERA. His age would concern a few clubs but he is a ground ball machine. Hudson is the perfect bridge to the arms of tomorrow. I predict a one year contract with an option for a additional year worth about $10 million. San Francisco can also explore the trade market. The rumor is swirling that the Tampa Bay Rays will trade David Price this offseason, much like Matt Garza and James Shields. The Giants have young pitching prospects, which is what the Rays are looking for. Price would instantly boost the San Francisco rotation. I imagine RHP Chris Stratton, RHP Martin Agosta, and/or LHP Edwin Escobar would be involved in the trade.
This past season, the line up had glimpses of success and failure. Hunter Pence inked long term deal and Brandon Belt provided a stable source of power. With the only obvious hole in left field, the Giants could possibly shift it’s infield around in order to exploit their strength. San Francisco fully anticipates Marco Scutaro to return healthy, especially after the first of a three year commitment. If not, Tony Abreu proved to be a capable everyday player with a strong performance in later part of the season, when hopes of reaching the postseason were long gone. Brandon Crawford skipped Double A Richmond and Triple A Fresno because of his glove. Crawford has gold glove potential but his bat lacks consistently. Whatever he adds with his bat is a plus in my book. Entering a contract year, Pablo Sandoval will check into Spring Training similar to his 2011 figure. If he has a big year, the Giants could extend his contract before 2015. The front office should consider a weight clause with incentives for games played, postseason, and awards.
With the Championship series underway, you are able to see why these teams made it deep in the postseason; pitching, consistent bats and chemistry. In order for the San Francisco Giants to return to glory, the pitching and consistent bats need to be established. Increasing the payroll is almost guaranteed. The front office needs to consider the realistic options. Best case scenario is the Giants resign Tim Lincecum & Ryan Vogelsong, sign Tim Hudson, and trade for David Price. With these moves, the San Francisco Giants will not only contend in 2014 but for the next three to four years.