This is the latest entry in MLBTR’s 2017-18 Offseason In Review series. Click here to read the other completed reviews from around the league.
It may take some time for baseball fans to adjust to Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen in different uniforms, but the Giants are hoping that these two veteran stars can help erase the memory of an ugly 2017 campaign at AT&T Park.
Major League Signings
- Tony Watson, RP: Two years, $9MM (includes a $2.5MM player option for 2020 that has a $500K buyout)
- Austin Jackson, OF: Two years, $6MM
- Nick Hundley, C: One year, $2.5MM
- Total spend: $17.5MM
Trades And Claims
- Acquired 3B Evan Longoria and $14.5MM from the Rays for OF Denard Span, IF Christian Arroyo, LHP Matt Krook, and RHP Stephen Woods
- Acquired OF Andrew McCutchen and $2.5MM from the Pirates for RHP Kyle Crick, OF Bryan Reynolds, and $500K in international bonus pool funds
- Acquired RHPs Israel Cruz and Sam Wolff from the Rangers for SP Matt Moore, and $750K in international bonus pool funds
- Acquired cash/player to be named later from the Orioles for IF Engelb Vielma
- Selected RHP Julian Fernandez from the Rockies in the Rule 5 Draft
Notable Minor League Signings
- Gregor Blanco, Andres Blanco, Derek Holland, Chris Heston, Josh Rutledge, Hector Sanchez, Chase d’Arnaud, Alen Hanson, Manny Parra, Casey Kelly, Jose Valdez, Kyle Jensen
- Span, Arroyo, Moore, Albert Suarez
Giants 25-Man Roster & Minor League Depth Chart; Giants Payroll Overview
No team received less from its outfielders (to the tune of a cumulative 0.8 fWAR and -2.5 bWAR) in 2017 than the Giants, so it was no surprise that San Francisco was connected in rumors to just about every outfielder available in free agency or trade talks. The major prize ended up being McCutchen, as the longtime Pirates icon was acquired for a pair of notable-but-not-elite prospects (Kyle Crick and Bryan Reynolds), $500K in international bonus pool money and the Giants’ willingness to absorb $12.25MM of McCutchen’s $14.75MM salary in 2018.
McCutchen’s declining defensive numbers as a center fielder won’t be an issue, as the Giants have already announced that the former NL MVP will be the everyday right fielder. (Pittsburgh also intended to deploy McCutchen in right field last season before Starling Marte’s suspension forced McCutchen back into regular center field duty.) The position change should better suit McCutchen’s defensive skillset at this stage of his career, and his bat already made a nice rebound in 2017 after a very disappointing 2016 season. McCutchen is also scheduled to hit free agency next winter, so while the Giants gave up a significant amount for just one year of his services, the club also has the freedom to pursue a longer-term solution if it so chooses after the season.
The outfield depth chart received another boost in the form of Austin Jackson, coming off an outstanding (though quite possibly BABIP-fueled) 318 plate appearances for the Indians last season. Jackson is currently penciled in for the bulk of time in center field, though he could shift into a general fourth outfielder role if rookie Steven Duggar wins himself a roster spot in Spring Training. Denard Span, the Giants’ regular center fielder for the past two seasons, is no longer an option after being dealt to Tampa Bay (in a salary offset situation) as part of San Francisco’s other blockbuster deal of the offseason.
Longoria will look to stabilize a third base position that has become another problem area for the Giants, with former third baseman-of-the-future Christian Arroyo serving as the prospect centerpiece of the deal with the Rays. There are certainly some questions surrounding the Longoria trade, as we’ll cover later. The Giants will no doubt be happy if the veteran can at least replicate his 2017 performance (2.5 fWAR, 3.6 bWAR).
Of course, all of that took place against the backdrop of a tough balancing effort of making hefty roster upgrades while staying below the $197MM luxury tax threshold. With Longoria and McCutchen’s hefty salaries joining the ledger, the Giants found payroll space by unloading Span to the Rays, and also by trading Matt Moore and his $9.75MM to the Rangers.
Some more payroll creativity was required to sign southpaw Tony Watson, whose two-year deal only officially guarantees $9MM over three years (if he exercises a player option for the 2020 season) but also allows him to earn more than twice that number by reaching various incentive clauses. Watson is coming off a bit of a down year by his standards, though given the size of other reliever contracts on the open market this year, he may prove to be a nice bargain for the Giants. Ultimately, like many teams this offseason, the Giants weren’t too active in free agency, only making modest agreements with Watson, Jackson, and backup catcher Nick Hundley.
Notable moves also took place off the field in San Francisco. President of baseball operations Brian Sabean is again taking more of a hands-on role in the front office’s day-to-day moves, while several long-time coaches were shifted either to new coaching duties or into front office roles.
Of all the outfielders linked to the Giants, the most notable was Giancarlo Stanton, and the Giants were deep in talks with the Marlins about a trade that would’ve seen the Giants reportedly covering some or all of the $295MM on Stanton’s contract. While both the Giants and Cardinals submitted offers to Miami’s liking, however, Stanton wasn’t willing to waive his no-trade protection to join either team, eventually approving a deal to the Yankees.
Needless to say, adding Stanton would’ve completely changed the Giants’ plans. The club would’ve had less salary flexibility and might well have abandoned its plan to get under the competitive balance tax entirely. While one can certainly argue that McCutchen and Longoria at two positions make for more of a help than Stanton at one position, a Giants team with Stanton in right field plus some prospects (Arroyo, Crick, etc.) still bolstering an already-thin farm system and a willingness to exceed the luxury tax threshold might’ve been better positioned to address remaining needs. Rather than add Longoria for the long term and McCutchen for the short term, would the Giants have been better off with Stanton as the long-term asset and a third baseman like Todd Frazier (who only found a two-year deal with the Mets) as a shorter-term answer? That was certainly the team’s preference, but it wasn’t able to convince the superstar to come to San Francisco.
On the other hand, that aforementioned lack of prospect depth could’ve also been the reason why the Giants weren’t able to swing deals for other notable outfielders on the market, like Christian Yelich or Marcell Ozuna. The Giants also weren’t keen on the idea of giving up a draft pick as compensation for signing a free agent who rejected a qualifying offer, such as Lorenzo Cain (who could’ve solved the center field hole), given the organization’s strong placement in the 2018 draft. Given both of these factors, the McCutchen trade looks like a solid move for San Francisco, assuming that 2016 truly was just an aberration for McCutchen.
Longoria’s situation, though, is a bit more complicated. His 2017 season, which ended with a .261/.313/.424 slash line, represented the first campaign in which he graded a below-average run creator (96) in Fangraphs’ wRC+ metric. He also hit more grounders and fewer fly balls than any other season in his ten-year career. While still a durable player and a good defender, Longoria could very well be on the decline as he enters his age-32 season. Though the Rays added some money in the trade, the Giants still owe Longoria $73.5MM over the next five seasons, making him yet another high-priced veteran on the San Francisco roster who is looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2017. He is something of an odd fit on a team that entered the winter looking to theoretically get younger and cheaper, though the Giants have traditionally been open to adding experienced players and, if anything, feel veteran players may be underrated in the current baseball marketplace.
Though outfield defense was a priority for the team, the planned alignment of McCutchen in right field, Jackson in center and Hunter Pence in left represents only a moderate improvement; while McCutchen should help in right, Jackson’s defensive metrics as a center fielder have been at best mixed for several years. Duggar is widely regarded as a strong defender and he has some strong hitting and on-base numbers in the minors, though he hasn’t had much Triple-A (or even Double-A) playing time. A jump to the big leagues might be a reach unless the Giants are willing to accept Duggar as strictly a glove-only player in the early going. Gorkys Hernandez, Austin Slater, or minor league signing Gregor Blanco could also see time in center field, though none are optimal options. Presumably, McCutchen could get the occasional start in a pinch.
Moore suffered through a very rough 2017 season, so the Giants may have felt the $9.75MM ticketed for the left-hander was better utilized elsewhere rather than hoping that Moore could rebound. His departure, however, leaves the team with a lot of inexperienced pitchers battling for two rotation spots rather than one. Ty Blach and Chris Stratton are the favorites to be the fourth and fifth starters, with rookies Tyler Beede, Andrew Suarez, Tyler Herb, Joan Gregorio also in the mix, and veterans Derek Holland and Chris Heston in camp on minor league contracts.
Were the Giants not already so close to the $197MM tax threshold, another veteran starter (even a mid-tier name, not of the Jake Arrieta/Lance Lynn/Alex Cobb class) would be a big help, though a price fit simply doesn’t seem possible unless the Giants could move salary elsewhere. With this payroll crunch in mind, the Giants were surely disappointed to fall short in their pursuit of Shohei Ohtani, as San Francisco was one of seven finalists for the Japanese two-way star before he eventually signed with the Angels.
Watson ended up being the only significant addition to a bullpen that struggled overall last year, though a healthy Mark Melancon would go a long way towards improving matters. The plethora of young starters that miss out on the rotation battle could also provide some further depth behind Melancon, Watson, Sam Dyson, Hunter Strickland, Cory Gearrin, and Steven Okert. Rule 5 draft pick Julian Fernandez is also in the mix but a total wild card, as he has never pitched above the A-ball level. Veteran lefty Will Smith is targeted to return in May or June after undergoing Tommy John surgery almost a year ago.
While the Giants are clearly planning to contend in 2018, this season could also serve as something of a bridge year for the franchise. Come next winter, the Giants will have McCutchen and Pence off the books, be free of a recurring luxury tax penalty, and be positioned exceed the threshold in pursuit of expensive free agents (such as Bryce Harper?) or trade chips. By then, the club should also have more of an idea of what it has in younger talents like Blach, Stratton, and Duggar, or even more-established players like Joe Panik. The Giants may also have advanced further in extension talks with ace Madison Bumgarner. A total rebuild doesn’t seem likely even in the event of another 98-loss season, though the Giants would surely look to move some veterans at the trade deadline.
Despite this uncertainty, San Francisco still went ahead to further bolster its veteran core, and Longoria and McCutchen should provide quite a bit more value than Span and Moore did last season (or are likely to provide this season). The Giants have left themselves with very little luxury tax room to maneuver for upgrades at the trade deadline, though the team still has its upper crust of prospects — Heliot Ramos, Beede, Chris Shaw — to offer if a big acquisition is required.
Rather than the start of a decline period for a veteran team, 2017 could potentially be seen as simply a perfect storm of fluke injuries (especially Bumgarner’s) and subpar performances — if, at least, the team’s veterans can return to their 2016 form. Between McCutchen, Longoria, and the low-cost free agent signings, the Giants might have filled all the holes they need to fill, provided some of their younger players can step up.
What’s your take on the Giants’ winter? (Link for app users.)
Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images
If only staton expected being traded to the giants. It’s funny the because he better learn to play good in wild card games because the Yankees will be coming in second for the next 4 years and losing to Astros and Indians in the playoffs the Yankees have no shot at winning the World Series
Someone sounds bitter
I don’t know what it sounds like because of the poor grammar and incorrect words.
Isn’t this about the giants?
Finishing 2nd to who? You should clarify what you’re talking about.
Basically complaining about Stanton choosing the Yankees over Giants, that Michael, er, Giancarlo, better get used to finishing second in the AL, East, and thus need to hit well in Wild Card games, and that the Yankees will lose to Astros and Indians and never make the World Series.
Who’s staton? Pretty brutal read altogether you get a F-.
And you get a C. Your comment ought to read, “… Pretty brutal read; altogether you get an F-.” That said, I completely agree.
Commas are our friends.
No shot ? How do you figure ?
Since you can obviously predict the future, can I please have the winning PowerBall numbers??
I just don’t get how the Giants did this with their rotation. Their rotation wasn’t good last year, but to be fair, Bumgarner was injured for most of the season. But, behind him was not good (except Samardzjia, low-key good), and it’s good they shipped off Matt Moore’s salary, but did nothing to replace him? They should’ve steered away from Longoria, and signed Frazier, honestly. That move seemed the worst to me from the Giants this offseason. Save the money and get a starter (not a Lynn/Cobb/Arrieta/Darvish) like Vargas, Garcia, any of those kind… I gave them a C.
I would be shocked if Jaime Garcia is markedly better than either Blach or Stratton this year.
The Giants pulled kind of a Hail Mary this offseason. It’s a risky and imperfect play but pretty much the only one they had to get back into it this season. If they get some good bounces and find themselves in the playoffs the moves will look pretty smart. If not, they’ll have the flexibility to make more and better adjustments next year. The only real downside is the potential to get stuck with a declining Longoria. Overall, Giants fans should be pretty well pleased with the moves their team made this offseason. Give them a “B” grade at least.
I wouldn’t say it is a hail mary, kind of the opposite, all of the moves were made to make the team better but not taking huge risk, maybe you can say longoria is a bit long term and may bite them in the end but nothing they did mortgaged their future and as long as they stay under the tax over the year it keeps them in the FA class next year. A hail mary would have been taking on cain, JDM , arrieta, etc where you are throwing all in to make the postseason..
Wolf chan, youda man. Perfect comment.
U know what’s cracking me up are all the comments about age. Anyone like to revisit last seasons early roster? Morse, Hill, ruggiano, marrero, etc. this yrs club is a huge improvement. Sandoval is a BACK UP! At $500k. He can still hit.
This team will contend for AT LEAST, a wild card
Pablo Sandavol is terrible. Him being a back up is not impressive to anyone
cueto was great at the beginning of the season last year and then got plagued with a blister issue, so far this spring he has been doing well, Shark suffered from a horrible OF defense – the 1-2-3 on the giants isn’t an issue and if blach and stratton get a chance in the 4-5, they are totally servicable and far better than the 4-5 of the last couple of years (moore, peavy, cain, etc.)
Despite all the struggles last year, their pitching was not horrible. They were 8th out of 15 NL teams in ERA, right in the middle. Barring another disastrous bout of injuries, this year’s staff should perform significantly better.
The major problem last year was scoring runs, as they finished worse than anybody except for the Padres.
How can you post about how bad the rotation is and omit Cueto? He was also injured last season, mostly with blisters, and a strain that was probably due to compensating. He was exceptional in 2016 and started the ASG. Even if he’s not the 2016 version, he’s probably not going to be the 2017 version either. A top 3 of Bumgarner, Cueto, and Samardzija looks pretty good to me.
You get a C for omitting Cueto, who should be co-ace with Bumgarner, like they were in 2016. Makes huge difference in the outcome of the rotation, whatever Cueto does..
You would not be questioning the Giants decision on the back of the rotation if you had been reading up on Stratton (Google for him, elite spin rate, curveball). If he can keep up that elite spin rate and results, then maybe you can leave out Cueto and it won’t matter.
Decent pickups for a team that has no other choice but add pricey vets. Odds are it won’t work but why not try! Go Blue!
Not too impressed with their additions, especially given the questions still remaining with their pitching, but they managed to pull everything off despite their lack of flexibility due to financial obligations and thin farm system, all while staying under the luxury tax threshold. Ended up giving them a B.
Giants went into the winter with the intention of getting younger, and they actually went in the other direction. I’m all about the addition of McCutchen as long as they don’t get crazy and try to extend him. I’d love to see a resurgent Longoria, but that contract is definitely something SF didn’t need. Frazier on a 2-year deal would have made sooooo much more sense.
I’d disagree with your post that the Giants got older instead of younger. Yeah, it wasn’t a huge youth movement, but they did part with a number of older players. Span is actually older than Longoria. 7 of the 10 oldest guys on the 2017 roster are gone. Last season, Pence who will be 35 was the 4th oldest, and this year he is the oldest. Cain and Moore, 30 yo average, are replaced by Blach and Stratton (probably) who have a 26 yo average. Plus guys like Duggar, Slater, Parker, who’s out of options, should be seeing a lot playing time making them younger than last season.
Young teams are capable of big gains in the standings from one year to the next, when young stars arrive or progress. The Giants aren’t young. Full and healthy seasons from Bum, Cueto, Belt and Melancon will go a long way. In addition to the arrivals of Cutch and Longoria. But really how often do older teams stay healthy and productive? The division should be highly competitive. 75 wins, an 11 win improvement, even seems like a stretch. I gave them an F because I think they should have blown it up. Display the three trophies proudly and work to return the farm to where it was a decade ago. That would have had to start with dealing Bum and Posey. The only two that could return blue chips. If you’re rebuilding the only good of a 30 year old star catcher is trade bait. I suspect the fire sale will begin at the trade deadline, one year later than when it should have started.
A successful team has a mix of young players and veterans. Look up the teams with the youngest average age, and they are all projected to finish at the bottom this year.
You need both. Giants don’t have both. No impact youngsters. All the key players have already had their best year.
Good luck telling 9 players on multi year contracts, many of whom won titles, that you’re “blowing it up”. They signed those deals believing that the team they were signing with was always trying to contend.
“Blow it up”. Sounds cool but makes no sense.
Here’s a novel idea. Mac Williamson is having a great spring. Start him in left. Make Pence the fourth outfielder or even trade him to get rid of him. Start Duggar in center. He’s has had a solid spring at the plate. Why don’t they try Slater in center? He has the arm and the speed. They can get younger in the outfield without that much risk compared to what they are planning to do.
I too prefer to have Mac Williamson as the starting left fielder. Especially now that he’s overhauled his swing. They’ve tried Slater in center and I guess something didn’t sit right with the coaches for whatever reason, I’m guessing it’s his range.
I’m pretty sure they will decide Duggar needs some more time in the minors, but Williamson should have secured himself a spot on the big league roster for sure by now.
Agreed about Mac starting in left, but the Giants have a track record of sticking with under performing veterans for sentimental reasons. Pence will probably have to play himself out of the lineup over the course of the whole first half of the season before they make the decision to start Mac.
Even if the Giants go with Pence as the starting LF, Williamson will get his chance soon enough. Based on recent years Pence will probably have a couple lengthy DL stints again this year. I also really feel SF will be better served by keeping one of the young OFs on the roster instead of Gregor Blanco. I understand the guy is a fan favorite, but it definitely isn’t because of his offensive prowess.
I agree. Speaking of young (?) outfielders, it is time for Jarret Parker to go. He’s out of options anyway and I don’t see him getting better.
There’s nothing wrong with starting the season with Pence in left. The Giants need to see if he has anything left in the tank. If not, he’ll be replaced soon enough, and Williamson will get his chance. The Giants did play Slater in center last year, he hit well enough, but he couldn’t stay healthy. I’m not sure how the team feels about his D out there though.
Ninth 3 Year Plan
Doyers scared, we rollin’
“we rollin” what position do you play?
They will finish 3rd in the NL West this year
Second wildcard spot and take it all the way to another championship 🙂
Possibly sneaking ahead of the Padres and finishing 4th is best case.
Big difference for D-backs and Rockies in 2017 vs. 2016 was that they beat up on the Giants whereas in 2016, they were beat up by the Giants. Switch that back around, and both fall a lot, Rockies out of contention, D-backs neck and neck, but won’t be finding a JD Martinez performance to help them again.
The Giants were crippled by injuries last season, most of which where random crap happening (Bum bike; Cueto blister; Melancon and Smith, arm problems; etc.). Most of them should be performing closer to 2016 than 2017, plus we upgraded to Longoria and McCutchen in the lineup, Watson in bullpen lefty, Stratton in rotation over Moore (elite curveball).
And for other question marks, I think the Giants will be okay. Either Pence performs or it’s either Williamson or Shawsome time, I’m okay with those odds. Pence was Pence-like in the last two months, so the hitting skills are still there, Crawford too. And Dyson figured out what went wrong in 2017 vs. 2016, and is working to fix that. By DRS, Span and Gorkys cost the Giants 3 wins with their CF play in 2017, and they are probably gone this season (I don’t see Gorkys winning a spot over Blanco or Slater/Duggar) and I expect Duggar to take over CF no later than June, and he is at worse average defensively, and most scouting reports say that he could be above average as he has speed as well as a good arm. The main negative I’ve seen is about his instincts, but given he only started playing CF for the Giants, experience will help him a lot with that.
And the Dodgers benefited from SP outperformance last season (see their FIPs), as well as traded away one of their better starters in McCarthy, as well as lost Darvish. Young unproven players often struggle in their second or third seasons, as teams figure them out (hence why youth is not a panacea), so I would not be surprised if that happens as well. They have walked the tightwire walk, as well, with their starting rotation by healthiness strategy, and I think it will bite them at some point, though it has worked like a charm so far. So I would not be surprised if the Giants content with LA for the division title in 2018, though it is not likely.
I gave them an A, because they addressed their biggest needs with aplomb.
They needed a CF, a RF, a 3rd baseman, and a top reliever. Done.
They wanted to stay under the luxury cap. Done.
They didn’t want to gut the farm system and keep their draft picks. Done (in my opinion what they gave up was okay but they kept Beede, Shaw and Heliot).
They wanted to grow their offense. Done. They grabbed two power hitters, a great hitter for the top or bottom of the order, and all this will do is improve the hitters around them.
Was it risky? Not really. If they do poorly they can still trade people, but after the injuries last year nobody was going to grab Pence, Cueto, Melancon or Belt. If the Giants are bad and any/all of those guys have standard years, they can still be swapped. If they do well they can go for it, go over the cap, grab a vet and ride into the playoffs. I’m biased as a Giants fan but this is a team like the D’Backs in 2017 that can go either way after a poor year previously.
Shaw and Beede are not good. Ramos is the only prospect thats notable for keeping on board
Would you like to substantiate why Shaw is “not good”? And don’t give me that prospect ranking argument. Everybody knows prospects are a crap shoot, not a good predictor, and using it as such is misusing it.
He’s 23 years old, and in his 3 years in the minors has slashed .280/.344/.511. If Belt weren’t ensconced at 1B Shaw would have a shot at making the team.
I realize you’re Dodger fan, but you might want to emulate a few of your brethren, and at least appear to show a modicum of objectivity.
He is 24 years old and turning 25 this year who’s success came in the PCL. Every team that has a affiliate in the PCL has someone who has really good offensive looking #s . Dodgers version of that is Edwin Rios who doesn’t even crack our top 10. Shaw is not a good prospect as far as value is concerned. Which is what i meant by the comment. Not that he has no chance of being good. The original comment said keeping Shaw was a plus when in reality he would not have been a valuable piece in any significant deal
He turns 25 in October for crissakes. Everyone recognizes 2018 as his age 24 season. But you’re right, I was year off. OMG he’s ancient. Most people are aware that the Eastern League is a pitcher’s league played in cavernous ballparks. Shaw’s numbers in AA are very similar to Bellinger’s and Verdugo’s. Not spectacular, but not terrible for AA either. Not every good MLB hitter raked in AA.
And excuse me, but didn’t you post “Shaw and Beede are not good”?
Plus you’re purporting to know things that no one can know except people in FOs. You have no idea if a team really likes Shaw or not. You have no idea if the Giants turned down a trade proposals because they think he’ll be good. Every team in baseball has opinions on players that do not conform to prospects lists. Basically what you’re posting is pure BS.
Obviously no one here has any insight to how a front office thinks. But if you think Shaw is some valuable commodity you are lying to yourself badley. His offensive numbers got better as he moved to the PCL. Thats a red flag right there. He doesn’t play a primer position. And 24 is very old for someone who is supposed to be a decent MLB player yet not in the big leauges. Your idea of conforming to prospect lists is a sorry excuse for everyone but Ramos in the Giants farm system not even being ranked. Sure teams dont look at the lists when deciding player value, but it gives a good idea of where the player stands among their peers. No there is no conspiracy to keep Giants players out of prospect rankings. Shaw is just not a valuable prospect. Cant even crack a top 10 list at the weakest position depth in the minors
I think the giants do a good job of portraying some of their prospects as prized—even if they may have given up on some of them. They’re thinking that teams will ask for them in a trade if the giants have such high regard.
Though I’m a sf fan going on 50years I’m kinda agreeing with Kenley.
One, though I feel Shaw is better than Kenley believes, I do believe sf will use him in a trade—as long as other teams r interested. Look, he’s a lefty power hitter. At ATT? Avg fielder. DH ready. Tradebait.
I don’t think sf is that high on beede. But again, they’re gonna act like they are. Trade bait.
Arroyo? All these writer and posters think they shoulda kept him. I don’t believe sf truly had high regard but they weren’t gonna let it be known.
But teams aren’t dumb, sf may have a hard time trading them.
Huh? Shaw has hit just as well at every single level, not just in the PCL. He’s been about as consistent as it gets.
The point the original poster was making stands: Shaw is more valuable as a member of the Giants in their current state than he is as a trade chip.
Why did the Marlins spend even one second discussing a Stanton trade with the Giants? Stanton was never going to accept a trade to SF.
Any discussion of Longoria’s contract has to include the fact that the Giants also gave up Span in the deal, which basically was a swap of salaries in 2018, as they were roughly the same. So the Giants basically are paying Longoria (as Span’s salary was a sunk cost) for 5 years at roughly $60M, which is around 1 WAR production paid for, per year, over the next 5 seasons (summed up Swartz’s $/WAR forecast for 2018-2022).
While he’s old, I think the odds favor him producing at least one WAR per season average over the 5 years. He’s projected at 3 WAR or so this season, so he could reach 5 WAR with two good projected seasons in 2018-2019. So I think the risks involved with him are less than commonly thought.
I think the Giants did a good job with their moves this off-season. By two major systems of WAR projections, the Giants have, with their moves, put themselves into contention for the second wild card spot. And isn’t that the idea, getting into playoff contention?
And the projections are most probably under estimating production because Bumgarner isn’t getting on a bike again and Cueto looks like his old shimmying self. Plus, Melancon, if healthy, would produce closer to his prior seasons than last season’s injury reduced mess. Then there are oddities to me, like Strickland producing 0.8 fWAR for the past 3 seasons and yet projected to be much lower, and he’s still in his 20’s.
The Giants also have opportunities for breakout performances. Stratton was elite with his curveball per spin rate and xwOBA (and overall performance) as a starter, in ten starts. If he can do anything close to that over a full season, he would add a WAR or two. Duggar also looks ready, but the 40-man roster scrum looks tight, and they might send him to the minors until they figure out who to drop off the 40-man. Plus, there’s the consideration that they might want to make a spot for Julian Fernandez, as well as Gregor Blanco, and Chase d’Arnaud. And then there’s Mac Williamson, he of rebuilt swing, looking like the prospect we’ve been hoping for all this time. Plus, Osich looks like he has figured things out as well. Lots of opportunity to boost production over what we currently have in the ledger per the WAR depth charts.
As a fan, I’ll take this. The Giants have a legit chance to be competitive for the second wild card, and probably even the first, just given the likelihood of Bumgarner and Cueto being co-aces again like in 2016. They might also be competitive for the division title, depending on how the Dodger’s pitching rotation works out (their 2017 ERA<<FIP for the most part; lost McCarthy and Darvish; all have injury issues) and their young players produce.