Arbitration Eligibles: San Francisco Giants

The Giants are next in our arbitration eligibles series.

With 13 arbitration eligible players, the Giants are tied with the Padres for having the biggest group we've reviewed so far.  The difference?  Lincecum projects to earn about as much as all 13 arbitration eligible Padres combined.

Lincecum is primed for a historic arbitration case, as I explained in detail in May.  At that time, one agent told me, "This negotiation will transcend arbitration and will be a mini free agency discussion."  The $19MM figure mentioned by agents at the time holds up under Matt Swartz's arbitration projection system, which predicts $19.2MM assuming Lincecum is working from a $14.1MM base in 2011.  No matter what the exact number, Lincecum will set an arbitration record unless he signs a multiyear deal.  He's open to another two-year contract, and I think something like $35MM would be a good deal for the club.  Keep in mind that Lincecum will otherwise be arbitration eligible one last time for 2013.

Giants GM Brian Sabean admitted to reporters in September that the team will probably not bring all 13 arbitration eligible players back.  Sanchez, with a projected $5.2MM salary, would seem a prime non-tender candidate.  However, Sabean suggested Sanchez would be in the rotation mix next year.  Sabean said Keppinger "might be a luxury item" for next year, since Freddy Sanchez is under contract.  At a projected $2.7MM, I think the Giants will be able to make a trade if they feel Sanchez is ready.

I think Torres at a projected $2.5MM is a candidate to be non-tendered.  Fontenot ($1.3MM), Whiteside ($700K), and Burriss ($600K) are on the bubble as well.  That leaves Sandoval ($3.2MM), Vogelsong ($2.5MM), Ramirez ($2.3MM), Casilla ($1.9MM), Romo ($1.3MM), and Schierholtz ($1.2MM) as players you can expect back in 2012.   

If Torres, Fontenot, Burriss, and Whiteside are non-tendered, the remaining nine could cost the Giants an estimated $39.5MM.  Sabean expects a $124MM payroll.  The team owes $72.433MM to players under contract, if Jeremy Affeldt's buyout is excluded but Aaron Rowand's salary is included.  Add the arbitration group and we're up at $112MM, $12MM shy of Sabean's payroll figure, before minimum salary players are considered.  The Giants expect to re-sign Affeldt, and perhaps a center fielder/leadoff man.  That might be all they can afford, but as Sabean indicated, the team's flexibility will hinge on how much money they allocate toward retaining their top pitchers.

Matt Swartz contributed to this post.

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