After logging 98 of them in the regular season, the Giants took another L in their first effort of the offseason when Giancarlo Stanton declined to waive his no-trade clause for a trade to San Francisco and instead chose to join the Evil Empire in the Bronx. Sometimes in baseball, you lose — and sometimes it’s not really your fault. You can’t control the whims or off-field activities of your players, and baseball’s idiotic “rules” for spending and player acquisition are a topic for another column. The question now becomes what the Giants can do after striking out in their first AB of the winter, and there are several answers to that — but it’s a complicated question with this organization. It seems that Bobby Evans & Co. did what they could to acquire Stanton — the only player who represented a one-man turnaround for the offense — but will they do everything they can to cobble together similar impact from what remains available? Let’s start with the current roster: The good news is that the pitching doesn’t need much work. With Bumgarner and Cueto primed for bounce backs and Samardzija slotted in at the three spot, the group of Matt Moore and youngsters Chris Stratton, Ty Blach and Tyler Beede makes for a relatively deep rotation. The bullpen was terrible last year, but with Will Smith set to return and Mark Melancon hopefully ready for a full season, they could improve a lot with one or two small, savvy additions. Like what they did with Sam Dyson last year. The offense is a different story. The Giants had an MLB-worst .689 slugging percentage last year and scored just 639 runs, better than only the San Diego Padres and more than 250 runs back of the Houston Astros at the top. Put another way, they averaged under four runs per game, which puts obscene pressure on their pitching staff. I’m quite certain nobody wants another look at the Parker/Williamson platoon. In Denard Span and Hunter Pence, the Giants have two aging outfielders who can’t do the things that earned them their salary in the field or at the plate. Pence, if he can get and stay healthy, is probably more useful than Span but neither is likely to be an above-average starter in 2018. The infield has a massive hole at third base and the chronically infuriating Brandon Belt at first. In order to compete, San Francisco needs to rebuild its offense. Given that they were willing to acquire Giancarlo Stanton, we know that they were willing to take on an average of nearly $30million a year to complete that task — so let’s see what that cash can buy us now that Stanton is sold out… Plan JD With Stanton gone and no other quite-so-obvious trade targets, free agent outfielder JD Martinez is the crown jewel of the market. He’s 30, coming off a career season and has carried around or above a .900 OPS over the past four years. He’ll cost in the neighborhood of $22- to $24-million yearly over the next five years, though, which means he would be the only significant acquisition of the offseason. The remaining money would have to be spent on some bullpen help and perhaps some infield bargains. Perhaps somewhere in the range of Howie Kendrick or Brandon Phillips or old pal Eduardo Nunez — a useful super-utility type who doesn’t move the needle offensively or even consistently fill a position. If Martinez continues to produce the way he did for Arizona, this is not a bad plan — but it puts a lot of eggs in one basket. It’s also worth noting that the Giants have not spent that kind of money on a free agent hitter since Barry Bonds. LIKELIHOOD: 38%. TASTINESS: Steak Dinner. Cain Redux Cain is the second-best outfield free agent — he’s a better defender than Martinez but brings significantly less power to the table. He’s a little older, but has a similar track record of consistency over the past four seasons and adds some speed to the equation. He’ll also cost less — about $17- to 20-million per year over four or five years. That extra cash is a boon in terms of the degree to which the Giants could upgrade their infield. That said, the free agent options at third base are not great and probably still cost too much (most notably Todd Frazier and Mike Moustakas). One good option here might be Zack Cozart — if he was willing to move to third base, he could bring a bit of power to the infield and should be right in that $12- 14-million per year price range. Worst case scenario: there is still extra money to spend in the bullpen or on another playable outfielder.
How the Giants can rebuild after missing on Giancarlo Stanton
San Francisco Examiner | Dec 12