With the 2016 season now over, the San Francisco Giants can look back on this season fondly while looking ahead to an eventful offseason.
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The dust has settled at AT&T Park, and the San Francisco Giants were left flattened by a heartbreaking loss to the Chicago Cubs in game four of the NLDS. One final bullpen collapse, the biggest of them all, did the Giants in, and they joined 24 other teams at home, just watching. Soon they will make room for four other teams on the couch, but one thing is certain: the Giants will not stand alone on top of the mountain during this even year.
All things considered, it was a pretty successful season for the Giants. They survived an epic second-half collapse after owning the best record in baseball in the first half. They swept the archrival Los Angeles Dodgers at home to end the season and make the postseason. They beat the New York Mets in the wildcard game as the legend of Madison Bumgarner grew a bit bigger. They took the fight to the Chicago Cubs, a 103-win team, in the LDS.
Bobby Evans went to work at the trade deadline and put together a trio of successful trades that maybe kept the Giants above water in the second half. Matt Moore, Eduardo Nunez, and Will Smith all played big roles in helping the Giants clinch a spot in October.
Another legend was born. After being signed to a minor league contract in February, Conor Gillaspie became an October darling. Nine years after being drafted by and making his big league debut for the Giants, Gillaspie turned into one of those players that just seems to have that magical gene in the postseason. In five games during his first taste of postseason action, he hit .421 and came up with two of the team’s biggest hits. His three-run home run in the wildcard game was the difference, and his two-run triple off Aroldis Chapman in NLDS game three gave the Giants their first lead of the series.
But now it’s time to look ahead. The offseason isn’t officially here yet, with the World Series champion undetermined as of now, but the speculation has already started. The team will certainly look quite a bit different from the one that took the field on 2016’s opening day.
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The remaining three members of the Core Four are free agents. After Jeremy Affeldt‘s retirement last year, it’s entirely possible that Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla, and Javier Lopez don’t wear the orange and black again. Angel Pagan, after five years with San Francisco, is also on the free market. Gregor Blanco, the fourth outfielder extraordinaire that struggled mightily in 2016, Jake Peavy, one of the ultimate “good guys” in the game, join them in free agency.
Over $50 million is coming off the books for the Giants, and because they won’t share that money with me, they’ll have plenty to spend in the offseason. The most logical place to spend seems to be the bullpen, where there will be multiple available options on the market. Maybe Mark Melancon or Kenley Jansen is a Giant next year.
Or maybe they go out and get an outfielder. The market is thin, but with Yoenis Cespedes likely to opt out of his deal, maybe they throw enough money at him to lure him in.
No one knows what will happen at this point in the year, but there’s so much time for things to play out. It will be an eventful and exciting winter.
There are plenty of reasons to be excited about the current team as well. The top four in their rotation looks as steady as any in the game. Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto are the stalwarts at the top, while Moore and Jeff Samardzija make for a very solid middle. There will also be options in the fifth place, including Ty Blach, who burst onto the scene in September and pitched very well.
The main core of the infield will be back as well. Brandon Belt became an OBP machine, Brandon Crawford was as steady as ever, and Joe Panik, while he struggled, really turned his game up in the postseason. Buster Posey, potentially a first-time Gold Glover this year, is still here to lead the team.
San Francisco is in good position to compete again in 2017, with a few spots to fill. With even year magic now a thing of the past, maybe they can make something odd happen in 2017.