San Francisco Giants: Let the Free Agency Frenzy Begin


When Kansas City Royals’ closer Wade Davis struck out New York Mets’ shortstop Wilmer Flores, the Royals clinched their first World Series championship since 1985. The 2015 baseball season has officially come to a close, but a brand new free agency period has just begun.

The San Francisco Giants narrowly missed out on the postseason this year, despite a vastly subpar starting pitching rotation, and enough injuries to fill an entire hospital wing. Entering the offseason, their focus is clear and singular: improve the pitching. Last season, Madison Bumgarner was only consistent starter, and while he did his absolute best to carry the team on his broad shoulders, he needs help around him to lighten his load.

Internally, the Giants have some players with expiring contracts that need to be addressed. Jeremy Affeldt and Tim Hudson are both on expiring deals, but both have announced their retirements, relieving the Giants of any decision they would have to make on either one.

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The biggest question mark on a lot of fan’s minds is the future of Tim Lincecum. The wildly-beloved starter has fallen on dark times in the past four years, becoming one of the most ineffective starting pitchers around the game. Even still, the Giants’ faithful love Lincecum, and his future is a concern.

Lincecum’s future, not only in San Francisco but in baseball altogether, remains cloudy following surgery to repair a degenerative condition in his hips in September. While there has been some speculation that the surgery could help the diminutive pitcher regain at least some of his previous form, he still has a long rehab process ahead of him.

The Giants have been known for showing a soft spot for their veterans, giving “good will” contracts to veterans like Aubrey Huff, Cody Ross, and Pat Burrell. The team even gave Marco Scutaro a deal after his playing career had ended so he could rehab his back problems in the team’s facilities. It would be no surprise at all for the Giants to bring back Lincecum on a minor-league deal.

Mike Leake was traded for at the July 31st deadline, but was inconsistent and injured during his short stint with the Giants. He did end the season on a high note, as he threw a one-hit shutout against the Los Angeles Dodgers in his final start of the 2015 campaign, and if there’s any way to endear yourself to Giants’ fans, it’s shutting out the Dodgers. Leake and the Giants have both expressed mutual interest, but on the free market, a 27-year-old (soon to be 28-year-old) with less than 1,100 innings on his arm figures to be a hot commodity.

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Ryan Vogelsong was a key contributor to two World Championship teams, but bounced back and forth between the starting rotation and the bullpen in 2015. Before the season ended, Vogelsong stated he saw the “writing on the wall” for him in San Francisco, and that his time in orange and black had come to an end. Vogelsong has signed one-year deals in consecutive seasons, and was on the verge of signing with the Houston Astros last year, so nothing is impossible.

Left field is another area of slight concern, and the Giants have three potential left fielders with expiring deals. Nori Aoki‘s one-year guaranteed deal has expired, but still has a team option for the 2016 season. The Giants have said they plan on exercising Aoki’s option, if he’s healthy following his concussion problems from last season. If the Giants do pick up the option, which they need to do in the coming days, he would likely regain his role as starting left fielder next year.

Marlon Byrd and Alejandro De Aza were both acquired in August as waiver trades, and both are now free agents. Byrd came excruciatingly close to vesting an $8 million team option into a guaranteed option for 2016, but fell just short. The Giants didn’t pick up his option, making Byrd available to any team. The Giants have expressed interest in re-signing Byrd, but at a much cheaper price than the $8 million his option would entail. He would likely take on a role fourth outfielder, power bat off the bench role, but with the Giants wanting to spend a lot on pitching, they may forego Byrd’s price tag and go with young bats in his stead.

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De Aza played a very limited role in his time in San Francisco, as he was mostly a fifth outfielder and late pinch-hitting option, but performed pretty well. He covers a good amount of ground in the outfield and has great speed, and would likely be a cheap option to bring back. De Aza could fill a key role as a late-inning defensive replacement.

Aside from the internal options, the Giants have a lot of outside players to work with. This year’s starting pitching market is strong, and the Giants have a lot of money to spend. The Giants have some work to do, from the inside and from the outside. Let the free agency frenzy begin!