The roster churn continued for the Giants, who made a plethora of lower-tier (and fairly inexpensive) acquisitions that includes a few familiar faces returning to the Bay Area.
Major League Signings
- Kevin Gausman, SP: One year, $9MM
- Wilmer Flores, IF: Two years, $6.25MM (includes $250K buyout of 3.5MM club option for 2022)
- Drew Smyly, SP: One year, $4MM
- Hunter Pence, OF: One year, $3MM
- Tony Watson, RP: One year, $3MM (Watson negotiated a new one-year pact, rather than exercise the 2020 player option in his contract)
- Tyler Anderson, SP: One year, $1.775MM (re-signed after Giants non-tendered him at Dec. 2 deadline)
- Total spend: $27.025MM
Trades And Claims
- Acquired IF Zack Cozart and IF prospect Will Wilson from the Angels for LHP prospect Garrett Williams (Cozart was released in January)
- Acquired cash considerations from the Athletics for SP/RP Burch Smith
- Claimed RP Jarlin Garcia off waivers from the Marlins
- Claimed IF Kean Wong off waivers from the Angels
- Claimed SP Trevor Oaks off waivers from the Royals
- Claimed RP Jake Jewell off waivers from the Angels
- Claimed SP Rico Garcia off waivers from the Rockies
- Claimed OF Jose Siri off waivers from the Mariners
- Claimed SP Luis Madero off waivers from the Angels
- Selected RHP Dany Jimenez from the Blue Jays in the Rule 5 Draft
Notable Minor League Signings
- Pablo Sandoval, Billy Hamilton, Yolmer Sanchez, Trevor Cahill, Tyson Ross, Nick Vincent, Joey Rickard, Rob Brantly, Andrew Triggs, Darin Ruf, Drew Robinson, Sam Moll, Cristhian Adames, Tyler Heineman, Zach Green (Jerry Blevins, Brandon Guyer and Matt Carasiti were also signed to minors contracts but have since been released)
- Madison Bumgarner, Will Smith, Kevin Pillar, Stephen Vogt, Fernando Abad, Dan Winkler, Kyle Barraclough, Ricardo Pinto
It wasn’t nearly as headline-grabbing as the Giants’ attempt to land Bryce Harper in the 2018-19 offseason, but San Francisco similarly looked into making an impact move in this winter’s free agent market. The club at least explored the possibility of signing Nicholas Castellanos (though there were conflicting reports about the depth of that interest) and Yasiel Puig was also on the radar. Neither signing materialized.
Instead, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi continued his more measured overhaul of the roster. Yes, such staples as Buster Posey, Evan Longoria, Brandon Belt, Jeff Samardzija, Johnny Cueto, and Brandon Crawford are all still in the orange and black. However, just because the Giants haven’t engaged in a slash-and-burn rebuild doesn’t mean a rebuild isn’t happening. Just look at the sheer volume of new talent that has been brought into the organization to surround those veteran pillars over Zaidi’s 17 months in charge of the team.
This offseason did see two major names depart the organization, as Will Smith signed with the Braves and postseason hero Mason Sau….er, Madison Bumgarner left for the NL West rival Diamondbacks. But, the Giants also brought back a pair of names from their early-decade glory days, as Pablo Sandoval re-signed on another minor league contract and Hunter Pence ended up being San Francisco’s biggest outfield acquisition.
Pence’s career seemed to be running on fumes after he left the Giants following the 2018 campaign, yet an overhauled swing led to a surprising .297/.358/.552 slash line over 316 plate appearances with the Rangers last season. Advanced metrics indicated Pence’s production was no fluke, though there is some uncertainty about whether a repeat performance is possible as Pence approaches his 36th birthday. He was limited to 83 games due to back and groin injuries in 2019, and the move back to the National League means Pence no longer has the benefit of the DH spot — 202 of his 316 PA last season came as a designated hitter.
That said, a $3MM contract doesn’t represent a major risk on San Francisco’s part, and the team doesn’t expect Pence to play every day. Pence will serve as the primary right-handed hitting complement to the left-handed hitting corner outfield duo of Mike Yastrzemski and Alex Dickerson, as the Giants are eager to see what the two 29-year-olds can do after their promising 2019 seasons.
Center field is more of a question mark. Kevin Pillar hit 21 homers in 2019 and was a clubhouse leader, but the Giants opted to non-tender the veteran center fielder rather than pay him a projected $9.7MM in salary arbitration. Steven Duggar was also optioned to Triple-A prior to the roster freeze, and while Duggar is likely to re-emerge in the big leagues if the season gets underway, minor league signing Billy Hamilton could be the current favorite for the bulk of center field playing time.
Hamilton hasn’t been able to match even Pillar’s traditionally subpar offensive numbers over his career, but he still provides elite defense and will come at a much lower price than $9.7MM if and when the Giants officially select his contract. The more intriguing option in center field, however, is Mauricio Dubon. After a respectable rookie year, the Giants plan to deploy Dubon on the outfield grass as well as at second base. He could also spell Longoria at third base and Crawford at shortstop.
Dubon’s potential as a multi-position threat makes him an even bigger piece of the Giants’ future, particularly if he shows he can passably handle center field duty. Dubon had been expected to be the regular second baseman in 2020, though since he could be shifting around the diamond, the Giants addressed the keystone with a pair of veteran signings.
Reigning AL Gold Glove winner Yolmer Sanchez inked a minor league deal with the Giants after being non-tendered by the White Sox, while Wilmer Flores scored the only multi-year commitment of San Francisco’s offseason — a two-year deal worth $6.25MM in guaranteed money. Besides second base, Flores can also serve as a corner infielder and could get some first base time against left-handed pitching (in lieu of the left-handed hitting Belt) while Sanchez plays second base and Dubon lines up in center field.
That is only one potential gameplan for new manager Gabe Kapler, however, as the Giants also have Sandoval, Donovan Solano, and Kean Wong available in the infield picture, plus minor league signings Darin Ruf and Zach Green were tearing up Cactus League pitching before Spring Training was halted. It’s fair to assume that any or all of these names could have been mixed and matched even if the season had begun under normal circumstances, and in the event of a shortened schedule with as many games as possible crammed into a reduced timeframe, the Giants are even more likely to rely on depth.
The depth behind the plate, however, took a hit when Aramis Garcia underwent labrum surgery in February. With a projected six-to-eight month recovery period, Garcia could potentially return even on the back end of that timeframe, should the regular season be extended into October (and the postseason into November and beyond). Until then, San Francisco will go with Rob Brantly or Tyler Heineman as Posey’s backup, as Joey Bart will probably not join the MLB roster until 2021, barring a change in strategy for the organization in light of the altered schedule.
Starting pitching was perhaps the clearest need of the winter, and the Giants addressed the rotation by signing Kevin Gausman and Drew Smyly for two of the open spots behind Cueto and Samardzija. Both Gausman and Smyly are looking to bounce back after struggling in 2019, with Gausman perhaps having the better chance at a rebound after seemingly getting on track as a reliever with the Reds and suffering some bad BABIP luck (.345) as a starter with the Braves.
It isn’t out of the question that Gausman or Smyly eventually wind up in San Francisco’s bullpen, should any of the Giants’ younger pitchers emerge. Tyler Beede is gone for the season due to Tommy John surgery, leaving Logan Webb, Trevor Cahill, Dereck Rodriguez, Trevor Oaks, and Andrew Suarez to compete for the fifth starter’s job. Any of this bunch could step into another rotation spot if Gausman or Smyly don’t pitch well, plus Tyler Anderson will also get a crack at starting once he fully recovers from knee surgery.
There is very little certainty within any of these options, of course, which could be why there was so little trade buzz about Cueto or Samardzija over the winter. Cueto had less trade value after pitching only 16 innings in 2019 in his return from Tommy John surgery, though Samardzija stands out as a prime trade candidate as he enters the final year of his contract. If the 2020 season is canceled entirely, however, Samardzija would still be eligible for free agency, and the Giants would potentially miss an opportunity to trade a veteran for some additional prospect help or salary relief (as they did by dealing Drew Pomeranz and Mark Melancon at last year’s trade deadline).
The biggest trade of San Francisco’s offseason saw the club focus on adding minor league talent, as the Giants agreed to what was essentially a “buy a prospect” trade with the Angels. The target was 21-year-old shortstop Will Wilson, the 15th overall pick of the 2019 draft, whom the Angels surrendered in order to get the remaining $12.167MM of Zack Cozart’s contract off their books. The Giants absorbed Cozart’s salary and then released him a month later.
Could we see Zaidi and GM Scott Harris use this same tactic again in 2020? It’s possible, given that there has been some speculation that some teams could be particularly eager to unload salaries due to the reduced schedule, and we already know that Zaidi’s front office is open to any transaction. Then again, it’s also hard to forecast how even a wealthier franchise like the Giants could adjust to the financial uncertainty facing the league.
2020 Season Outlook
The possibility of a reduced or lost season is a major blow to a Giants club that is still trying to figure out which of its current players will be part of its next contending team. Top prospects like Bart or Heliot Ramos could lose an entire year’s worth of minor league seasoning, while the jury will still be out on whether younger members of the MLB roster (e.g. Dubon, Webb) are full-fledged big leaguers or if older but still not established players like Dickerson or Yastrzemski can build on their 2019 numbers.
Fangraphs projected the Giants for a 71-91 record over a full season, a dropoff even from their modest 77-win total from 2019. While the small sample size wildness of a reduced schedule could lead to surprises, the Giants simply don’t match up well on paper with most of the National League, and it seems rather clear that the front office views the 2020 season as a development year.
How would you grade the Giants’ offseason moves? (Link for app users.)
Considering they know they’re going to be bad, they did pretty good considering the circumstances when the deals were made
yeah I feel like you need to look @ the giants right now in a similar light to the dodgers at the beginning of the freidman era when they had kemp and crawford and were holding on to ellis and a bunch of guys and trying to set the books and the system straight to build a contender rather than going hard like say the padres when they were down and traded for and signed a whole bunch of guys that just led to a big collapse . Honestly the coronavirus really sucks for a team like the giants since such a big part of the strategy when it comes to guys like anderson and gausman was to get some sign low 1 year contracts that can either benefit from new coaching and have reasonable signings or flip for additional prospects (like they did with pomeranz which netted them dubon who showed a lot of promise in the majors already as a serviceable or better guy.
The Human Rain Delay
The Giants probably benefit from the lost year more than any other team in the MLB if we are being relative- (Hou for sentimental reasons but we’ll keep it all logistical here for now)
There Biggest goals right now is watching the sand empty from the hour glasses from the Great white hypes…….. Posey Belt Crawford Shark Longo….. + Cueto as a little seasoning
Key word- Relative….ofc they lose on a couple hits but a lot less than any other MLB team
dynamite drop in monty
Never been the same since they signed Bobby Rayburn
that Flores deal will be a steal
re: Jimenez, wondering how rule five status is effected by the stoppage. will rule 5 guys (bound to ML rosters) accrue service time?
They knew they would be so bad even if they filled the roster with guys like Jonathan Villar, Julio Teheran, Akiyama as the ideal lead-off hitter and center fielder/left fielder and so many others who were let go by many teams to save money, they were not going to win 88 or more games to get into the postseason, so why not be bad and build with the draft and cast-offs.
The Human Rain Delay
Exactly……. though I dont get why many contenders didnt jump on Villar for 1/10 ?
Maybe he got too impatient or values playing time more – He was jacked around quite a bit with Mil and maybe p/t just means more than winning to him……The Fla taxs and lifestyle isnt a bad kicker as well
Giants will be major players in free agency by 2022….. Z knows he got 2 years (hopefully) to find some gems so when he does add in FA the cupboard wont be bare
I’d give this a B. They got a first rounder in Will Wilson, a Gold Glover in Yolmer Sanchez, and some nice rebound candidates in Smyly and Gausman. Not to mention Jarlin Garcia off waivers looks to be a steal, didnt allow a run in ST with an 8/1 K/BB ratio.
I gave it a B too. TBH, I’m not sure what an A would look like during a rebuild offseason. Maybe unloading one or more of Longoria, Belt or Crawford, but that wasn’t going to happen with these guys having negative trade value right now.
The only real money spent was on pitching, and none of those contracts seem untenable.
If the 2020 season doesn’t happen, the Giants might well deserve an A. They will be in a much better position in 2021 when they can start looking to open their wallet again.
The Human Rain Delay
This is the correct line of thinkng Scott but I dont think they open the wallets next year either unless its on a huge/long contract like MOOkie which I do see them targeting-
2022 is when they really open up which also coincides with the great 2021 free agents becoming avail prior–
Next 2 yrs is just about running out the clock and hopefully getting a few surprises on the youths- Maybe Cueto rebounds a bit as well and they can deadline deal him for a piece or two 2021 summer
Why don’t you see them going after Betts? They went hard after Harper, offering a higher AAV than the Phils, even if it was for fewer years. They will be closer to being good next season then they were last season. Plus Betts is going to get at least 8 years and probably 10, Certainly the Giants hope they are a playoff team long before that. With their wealth they could sign Mookie and stil be players in the following years FA class.
they need to keep belt. hes got a lot of power, just the fences ripped him off
Sanchez is not a lock to make the team from what I remember reading when baseball was still being played.
Old roster full of overpaid hasbeen players, The San Francisco Giants are a mess. They’re about to book their 4th consecutive below .500 season.
Farhan Zaidi is a highly skilled executive and he’ll figure it out , But this is just the beginning of a 3-5 year turn around. Next year they’ll be equally as bad as they are now. If things break right for Zaidi they may be in line for a club capable of a .500 record or slightly better in 2022
Is it wrong of me to kinda wish the season is cancelled so the Fodgers never get Mookie Betts on the field?
Yes thats just sad. Imagine wanting games to get cancelled just for that.
no. i agree
Imagine pathetically hating a team because your grandfather told you to SO BADLY you’d happily not watch your favorite team for a whole year… wow
The Human Rain Delay
I gave a solid A, Buying Wilson was such a better ave for a re-build team that I think is not being manipulated enough in the MLB-
Very common practice in the NBA to take on bad contracts for future draft picks, its not a perfect comparison as the salary cap works different- Future draft picks also cant be traded in MLB (actual prospects already drafted instead ) but the practice is the same in theory-
Re-builds are never fun but I think Z has a good head start on it and a solid road mapped out- They will be big players in the Huge 2021 Free agency market
after reading the names on the Gints roster, you have to conclude that cupboard is bare, with nothing but crumbs….
Still at least a couple 100 L seasons ahead.
In 136 seasons, the Giants lost 100 games a grand total of… once, in 1985. That was a terrible, terrible team. The current roster and farm system are better than they were in 1985, though I don’t expect the quick return to contention they enjoyed in 1986 and getting within one win of a World Series berth in 1987.
Zaidi’s roster churn is how LAD found Muncy, Taylor, Turner and more. If you’re gonna be bad, why not try to find a diamond in the ruff? Honestly, that thinking is what will bring SF to contention