The winter isn’t over — far from it, in fact — but a few teams have gone further than others in determining their direction for the coming season. Out in San Francisco, there’s no question that the Giants are pushing in some chips in hopes of rebounding from a miserable 2017 season, while at the same time avoiding a wholesale raid on the farm or major long-term contract entanglements.
Walking that kind of tightrope is never easy. For an organization with so many major contract commitments already on the books, there was an obvious risk both in going too far and not far enough. Let’s not forget that the Giants initially set out in pursuit of Giancarlo Stanton, too, suggesting both that the team would have blown past the luxury tax line in some circumstances (and perhaps may still) and also that the ultimate series of moves was (at least in part) something of a backup plan.
Having entered the offseason with glaring holes at several positions, and the above-noted limitations on resources, here’s what the Giants front office has come up with thus far:
- acquired third baseman Evan Longoria and $14.5MM for infielder Christian Arroyo, outfielder Denard Span, and pitching prospects Stephen Woods and Matt Krook
- acquired outfielder Andrew McCutchen for righty Kyle Crick, outfield prospect Bryan Reynolds, and $500K in international pool space
- signed outfielder Austin Jackson (two years, $6MM)
- signed catcher Nick Hundley (one year, $2.5MM)
- traded away lefty Matt Moore for pitching prospects Sam Wolff and Israel Cruz
- added infield depth through claims and minor-league signings, including Engelb Vielma, Josh Rutledge, Chase d’Arnaud, and catcher Hector Sanchez
In the aggregate, the organization has parted with some youthful assets and MLB pitching depth while reallocating those resources (including Moore’s $9MM salary) to other areas of need. And the team is still flying just beneath the luxury tax line, with the inclusion of Span in the Longoria swap helping to manage the accounting.
The results surely aren’t bombproof. Longoria and McCutchen, the two main additions, are no longer the superstars they once were. Meanwhile, the San Francisco pitching staff will need to rely on some unproven youngsters. Even having bypassed several internal options to make Jackson the anticipated fourth outfielder, the team still needs to acquire a center fielder (or choose one from within) to take regular time or platoon with Jackson.
There’s an optimistic view here, too. While Longo and Cutch aren’t likely to carry the club, they don’t need to do that to justify their additions. Both are still in their early thirties and it would hardly be surprising to find there are still a few more high-quality seasons left, given their undeniable talent levels. The pitching reductions may feel somewhat riskier than they really are, as the Giants do have quite a few arms on the rise. And it seems reasonable to expect that the front office already has a pretty good idea of what its options are in center. The team could still land a bigger asset if the opportunity is right; or, it can stay beneath the luxury tax line while relying on cheaper options. Retaining that flexibility while still making notable gains in roster quality was surely a chief aim.
Of course, the offseason is still not over. But many if not most or all of the team’s significant moves are in the books; at a minimum, we can see how they’ve set the stage for completing things in the next few weeks. So, we’ll turn it over to the MLBTR readership for a mid-term offseason grade (link for app users):