With free agency on the horizon, the San Francisco Giants’ management department doesn’t have much time to rest on their championship.
Marco Scutaro, Angel Pagan, and Jeremy Affeldt were all main contributors to the 2012 championship team, but all three could be somewhere else when opening day comes along.
Here’s a look at each situation regarding the Giants’ top three free agents:
1. How Much Will Hunter Pence Make In Arbitration?
After reports confirmed that San Francisco will tender Pence, another question arises, the questions is: how much will he make? Per MLB Trade Rumors, sources believe that Pence will make precisely $13.8 million in arbitration, which will be the highest annual salary amongst all arbitration eligible players. This leads to another question: is he actually worth nearly $14 million on a one-year contract?
Statistically, Pence does not have much of a case. In 59 regular season games with the Giants, he triple slashed for .219/.287/.384 with an OPS of .671. He did, however, drive in 45 runs, so the quirky outfielder did find a way to frequently produce runs in spite of the dismal averages.
Realistically, Pence is not going to change to a more consistent figure because he has always fit the bill of an RBI guy with an exceedingly low batting average. Furthermore, out of his six years in the majors, he has only hit over .300 once, and generally, players who rake in $14 million per year are a bit more complete in that they have more tools. Pence simply produces runs with a few inconsistent contributions in other departments. Obviously producing runs isn’t such a bad trait to have, but other weapons are usually present among $14-plus million players.
So, the Giants are probably stretching their wallets for Pence, but general manager Brian Sabean doesn’t have much of a choice with a slim market for outfielders. Plus, he already has his hands full with Angel Pagan able to test the open waters. Basically, Sabean cannot afford to lose Pence, which is why he will be partly overpaid in the end.
2. What’s the Situation With Marco Scutaro?
Fortunately for the Giants, the interest from Scutaro and the Giants to remain in a Giants’ uniform is mutual. Sabean stated that he’s “actively working” to resign Scutaro, and feels optimistic about retaining Scutaro and his two other top priorities (Jeremy Affeldt and Angel Pagan).
At 37 years-old, the Giants will likely be Scutaro’s final team, barring a spark of youth. With that in mind, he will probably receive a deal worth no longer than three years, with two being more realistic. That’s a standard that all potential suitors will stick to, not just the Giants. Like Pence, the NLCS MVP could be overpaid, but with good intentions.
After being acquired from the Rockies at the trade deadline, Scutaro compiled a .362/.385/.473 in 61 games with the Giants, and continued his paramount contributions by hitting .328/.377/.391 in the postseason. Reflecting back, most pundits perceived Scutaro as a utility player at best in terms of his role with the Giants, but he transformed into an extremely crucial part of their championship team, both with the intangibles and numbers.
With the interest from both parties being mutual, it would be a good bet to assume that Scutaro will be wearing the orange and black next year and possibly a couple more years.
3. Will The Slim Market Of Outfielders Prevent Angel Pagan From Returning?
The fact that this year’s crop of free agent outfielders is a well-known fact by now. What this essentially means, is that Pagan will draw a considerable amount of interest being an outfielder. That in particular could derail the Giants’ chances of resigning him. And yes, he will be overpaid either way.
While Sabean most recently said that he is optimistic about Pagan returning, he also said in an earlier report that he is a bit more reluctant when predicting whether or not Pagan will be back in 2013 due to the slim market.
The Giants have the upper-hand when competing against other teams for Pagan’s services simply because he was a part of their championship team. But remember, money is a strong incentive, especially for a player like Pagan who has never been such a sought out commodity.
Pagan seemed to enjoy San Francisco greatly, which is certainly a point in the Giants’ favor. Although, the lure of drawing a massive contract might veer Pagan in a different direction, but only time will tell in this particular situation. And that could be all winter, so brace yourself.
4. Could Jeremy Affeldt Be The Odd Man Out?
While Affeldt doesn’t get much recognition for his gutsy performances out of the bullpen, he could be wearing a different uniform in 2013. The reason for this isn’t because his effectiveness is decreasing, but because the Giants don’t necessarily need him with Jose Mijares being a similar pitcher to him. Plus, the Giants have Javier Lopez as a strictly left-handed specialist. So both areas are pretty much covered.
What makes Affeldt a desired asset, is his versatility against both righties and lefties. In specific, right-handers hit .244 off him, and left-handers hit .236 off of him. When stacked up against Mijares’s splits, they are a bit similar, except for the fact that righties hit .276 off him. Mijares is much cheaper though, and is under contract for next year.
While the Giants would certainly like to keep the veteran lefty around, it just might not be in their budget, especially with two similar pitchers already on the roster. If the two sides can pump out a deal that fits the needs of both Affeldt and the Giants, then a return is feasible.
However, Affeldt is rumored to be seeking a three-year deal with a salary in the range of $20-$23 million. That’s a bit lofty, to say the least. Although, after not giving up an earned run in the postseason Affeldt has the right to seek such a massive deal. The Giants just won’t be the ones fulfilling his demands.
5. Is A Splash Needed To Counter The Dodgers?
At this point, it’s safe to assume that the Dodgers will be highly active this off-season. Whether that means through free agency or trades, they will be looking to add to their team with hope to make the playoffs, obviously.
On paper, the Dodgers boast a stronger roster than San Francisco’s. But as past results show, the teams with the most money and most talent don’t always prevail. A mini-case of this took place this past season when the Dodgers bolstered their roster at the trade deadline, but still couldn’t reach the playoffs, while the Giants rode chemistry and wise additions to a championship.
The thing is, that was over a smaller span of games, whereas over a full season, the veterans usually get their numbers. This should bode the Dodgers well considering that they have a surplus of proven players—Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Hanley Ramirez, to name a few.
While the Giants probably won’t be a suitor for Josh Hamilton or Michael Bourn given their salary demands, a couple of more wise acquisitions could play a similar effect to the pickup of Scutaro.