After another impressive season for the Giants, which resulted in them hoisting up the Commissioner’s Trophy yet again, it is time for their front office to get back to work in hopes of winning yet another title. Here is what I would do, in a realistic world, if I were given the keys to the San Francisco Giants this off-season in hopes of a 2015 repeat:
KEY LOSSES: Ryan Vogelsong (Free Agent)
The time has come to cut ties with Ryan Vogelsong, age 37, despite a solid bounce-back season in 2014 (4.00 ERA, 1.28 WHIP). Vogelsong has been very inconsistent over the last couple of seasons, often battling with either poor stuff, or command, from start-to-start. He was hammered in the playoffs this season, giving up 9 runs and 22 base-runners in only 12.1 innings.
KEY ADDITIONS: Jake Peavy (Resign)
Brian Sabean made a very under-the-radar move last July when he brought in veteran SP Jake Peavy. That move happened to pan out as possibly the best trade of the season in the MLB. After coming to San Francisco, Peavy posted a 2.17 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in 78.2 IP. A small sample-size, yes, but it seemed like pairing up with his old manager, Bruce Bochy, and returning to the familiar NL West was just what Peavy needed to turn his career back around. With Peavy being 4-years younger than Vogelsong, he would be my choice to retain of the two. I’d give him something in the area of a 2-year, $20 million deal with the second year being a mutual option.
I would also keep Yusmeiro Petit in the starting rotation next year due to his ability to throw strikes (133 K, 22 BB in 117 IP in 2014) and avoid hard contact. The Giants have a solid defense, and running out 5 starting pitchers who rarely walk batters would be a huge advantage, especially in their home ballpark. Getting a healthy Matt Cain back should be a nice boost to the Giants rotation as well.
KEY LOSSES: Sergio Romo (Free Agent)
Letting Sergio Romo walk is a tough call. While he is a very popular player in San Francisco, he seemed to lose feel of his slider a lot last year which resulted in a career high 9 home runs allowed in only 58 IP. Was it simply a fluke season or are years of throwing all those sliders finally starting to catch up to him? I’m not certain, but I would not match the likely 3-year deals he will be offered elsewhere to find out.
KEY ADDITIONS: Jared Hughes (Trade)
To obtain a right handed pitcher to replace Sergio Romo, I would trade catcher Hector Sanchez (and possibly a low level prospect) to the Pirates for RHP Jared Hughes. Hughes would be able to fill Romo’s void, as he is tough on right handed hitters and has had success working the 7th and 8th innings in the past. He still has 3 years of team control (arbitration), and is coming off his best season in 2014 in which he posted a 1.96 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. The Pirates would be interested in this deal because they have a TON of quality relievers with more following in their pipeline, and it looks like they could be losing their All-Star catcher, Russell Martin, to free agency. At the very worst, Sanchez would be a big replacement over the Pirates current backup, Chris Stewart.
Tim Lincecum would take over as the full-time long reliever in hope that he could regain some of his magic throwing harder for shorter stints, and RHP Hunter Strickland would start the year in Sacramento (AAA), working on a 2-seam fastball and slider command. Strickland could be a force during the second half of 2015 if he continues to develop. The Giants also should have Kyle Crick ready to join the big league club at some point next season, with the bullpen being the likely landing spot for the short term. While the Giants wait for Crick or Strickland to be ready, George Kontos (2.78 ERA, 1.08 WHIP) will serve as a solid place holder.
KEY LOSSES: Michael Morse (Free Agent), Hector Sanchez (Trade), Travis Ishikawa (Free Agent)
Michael Morse had a solid 2014 season while he was on the field, posting a .279/.336/.475 slash-line. Morse also came through with a HUGE pinch-hit home run vs the Cardinals in the NLCS and the game-winning RBI in game 7 of the World Series. The problem is that Morse will likely be looking for a multi-year deal at this stage of his career, and that is a lot to offer for a player who has played over 105 games only twice in his career.
KEY ADDITIONS: Pablo Sandoval (Resign), Colby Rasmus (Free Agent), Rickie Weeks (Free Agent)
At the beginning of the 2014 season, I wrote that the maximum contract that the Giants should offer to Pablo Sandoval should be in the 3-year, $50 million range (read that post here). I since have changed my tune after watching Sandoval destroy postseason pitching, yet again, and noticeably improve his defense at third base. I would sign Sandoval to a 5-year, $100-million dollar deal, which would sign him through his age 33 season. While there is a little bit of risk involved with giving a hefty player such as Sandoval a long term deal (see Ryan Howard), I feel that Sandoval is an exception to the rule. At age 28, he should be entering his prime seasons and is athletic enough to play an above-average 3B now so he should be able to stick there for a few more years. He also has more to give offensively, especially if he scraps hitting right-handed (hit .199/.244/.319 in 2014) and becomes a full-time left-handed hitter (.317/.363/.461 in 2014).
To address the ever-revolving-door in left field, I would slide Angel Pagan over there and sign OF Colby Rasmus to a 2-year, $15 million dollar deal to play CF. Rasmus was a can’t-miss prospect who hasn’t fully lived up to his potential, but I’d be willing to pay and see if Bochy and company could get more out of him. As-is, he plays an above-average center field and has averaged 20-home runs a year during his 6-year career. At age 28, if he can improve his contact rate he could be a boarder-line all-star. Another reason why I like this signing is that it would move an aging Pagan to left field where he would now be a plus defender. He would have less ground to cover as well which would go a long way towards keeping him healthy and on the field. On top of that, it also moves Gregor Blanco to his more natural role as the team’s 4th outfielder.
To add some much needed pop to the bench, I would sign 2B Rickie Weeks to a 1-year, 2.5 million dollar deal. Weeks had a bounce-back season in which he hit .274/.357/.452 and slugged 28 extra-base hits in only 252 at-bat. Weeks would be a nice fit in that on top of adding pop off the bench, he could also occasionally spell Joe Panik against tough lefties.
2015 OPENING DAY ROSTER:
1) Madison Bumgarner
2) Matt Cain
3) Jake Peavy
4) Tim Hudson
5) Yusmeiro Petit
1) Angel Pagan LF
2) Joe Panik 2B
3) Buster Posey C
4) Pablo Sandoval 3B
5) Hunter Pence RF
6) Brandon Belt 1B
7) Colby Rasmus CF
8) Brandon Crawford SS
Andrew Susac C
Gregor Blanco OF
Juan Perez OF
Rickie Weeks 2B/1B
Joaquin Arias SS/3B/2B/1B
Please feel free to include your thoughts in the comment section