With the addition of Tommy La Stella, the Giants are close to putting the finishing touches on their offseason, and soon we'll get our first look at how it all plays out on the field. Pitchers and catchers report in 18 days, and the Giants have a lot of new faces.
As we wait for that first pop of a glove, here's our first edition of Giants Overreactions, with a look at how some fans felt about the offseason work and what's to come:
"A+ OFF SEASON. WE ARE WINNING IT ALL NEXT YEAR" -- @BayAreaChriss
Overreaction? Let's gooooooooooo, bring on the dancing dugout!
Might as well start here. Yes, this is a massive overreaction. Even Giants people, when the microphones are off, will tell you they're not winning the World Series in 2020. Frankly, even making the playoffs would be a huge accomplishment if MLB fails to expand the postseason. I would even throw them a mini-parade on Zoom if they finish within 10 games of the Dodgers or Padres.
I genuinely think the Giants have done a nice job this offseason and have a bright future, but in a league with the Dodgers, Padres, Mets and Braves, it's hard to view this as anything other than another rebuilding year.
San Francisco Giants
"The Giants will have a greater winning percentage than the combined average of all NL Central team's winning percentages." -- @BigBoiBennothy
First of all, I was told there would be no math.
I think it's fair to expect the Giants to be somewhere around .500 given what they did last year. The Dodgers and Padres are really good, but the Rockies might be awful and the Diamondbacks have their issues, so that should balance out the schedule.
The key here is that the NL Central has basically decided to sit out the offseason. The Cubs got much worse, the Cardinals' only move thus far was adding old friend Tyler Heineman, the Brewers and Reds are taking a step back and the Pirates should easily be the worst team in the NL. This should be the worst division in baseball, and I think the Giants have done enough that I'll take the over here.
The Giants had the best offseason in the NL West. They filled needs at every position with adequate talent while also maintaining the flexibility to go all-in next offseason when the FA class is stacked." -- @dubongoated
The first thing I read this morning (after getting caught up on GameStop, of course) was Keith Law's top 100 prospect list, and he had five Padres on the list, including his No. 2 player overall (MacKenzie Gore), a shortstop ahead of Marco Luciano (CJ Abrams at No. 8) and a catcher ahead of Joey Bart (Luis Campusano at No. 38). I don't put too much into top 100 lists, but the point is, the Padres added Blake Snell, Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove in trades and still kept nearly all of their best prospects. They also signed Ha-seong Kim and brought Jurickson Profar back.
The Padres are the clear winners of the offseason, not just in the NL West, but in the big leagues. They have a shot at finally knocking the Dodgers out of the top spot, and they did all this while keeping their best young players and mostly adding players who are under team control for a couple more seasons, meaning they now have at least a three-year window to compete for titles. I know the offseason "winners" often bust, but it's hard to see real flaws in A.J. Preller's plan.
"Charles Johnson's political contributions to far right-wing orgs & politicians will keep some fans away from the ballpark -- when fans are allowed in the ballpark in September, after most adults are vaccinated." -- @wendythurm
Overreaction? Well, it's complicated
I agree with the general premise here, mostly because I heard from a lot of angry Giants fans after the Johnson news (although I also believe most of the people tweeting about him don't actually attend games). I'm sure some will stick to what they've said and avoid spending any money on the Giants this year, but here's the thing ... we won't notice.
The Giants expect to be one of the last -- if not the last -- teams to have fans in the ballpark even as vaccinations ramp up, and right now they can't say if they'll ever get past limited capacity in 2020. Most of the available tickets will go to remaining season-ticket holders, too, and by definition those people have kept their money with the organization through all this. The Giants had 26,000 season ticket holders in 2019, and even though they've lost a lot of support since then for various reasons, there's a real chance that they're only allowed about 10,000 fans at games even in September. Even if some people boycott because of the political contributions, we won't see it in the attendance numbers.
"This offseason has been great so far, Farhan addressed what he said he wanted to address and it seems like he isn't done according to reports." -- @SFG_Talk
Like I said above, I think the Giants have done a nice job, and I'll give Zaidi credit for the point mentioned here. I know he doesn't like giving much away during his Zoom calls with beat writers, but he said from the beginning that he wanted a left-handed bat, starting pitchers, right-handed relievers and a backup catcher, and he basically has gone down that list over the last three months.
The Giants have also never really thrown red meat out there just for the hell of it. Trust me, they're not leaking Trevor Bauer rumors just to get on MLB Trade Rumors and get the fans talking for a few days. I think they've actually been pretty honest about the state of the franchise and the direction over the last three years, and it seems that's helped. This is an imperfect metric, but just in what I see from my Twitter followers, I think most of the fan base has an understanding of what they're trying to do, and Zaidi has certainly won over a lot of fans.
"Worried about the starting pitching and bullpen but looking forward to the '22 offseason." -- @willyquill
Overreaction? Not at all.
All fair points here, especially about the starting pitching. You can very easily picture a world in which all of these moves pan out, but there's also an obvious downside. Gausman needs to prove 2020 was for real, Anthony DeSclafani needs to prove his 2020 was a bad fluke, and Alex Wood needs to stay healthy after missing most of the last two seasons. Johnny Cueto and Logan Webb simply have to be much better than they were last year.
If there's a place where this could all fall apart and lead to a 70-92 season, it's the rotation. The bullpen is pretty inexperienced, too, even with the additions. That's why the Giants are still looking for pitching help.
"Has Farhan actually said they plan to spend next year when virtually all money is off the books? Trevor Story would be an awesome add." @Giants55
This isn't really one to react to, but I included it because Story is my sneaky "Hey, go chase that dude" choice for next offseason, when most of the attention will be paid to Carlos Correa, Corey Seager and possibly Francisco Lindor. I'm a huge fan of his game, and it's likely he'll cost a lot less than some better-known options.
To the actual question, no, the Giants have never actually said they're going to go crazy once the books clear, and I actually think fans should lower their expectations a bit. This is a front office that believes strongly in properly valuing players, and you don't go from a bunch of one-year deals to all of a sudden signing a $300 million shortstop and a couple of $120 million starting pitchers in the same month. I think they'll spend more next offseason and they'll have to, because they have a lot of holes to fill for 2022 and, honestly, it would be embarrassing to have a $90 million payroll in such a big market. But I would hold off on thinking they're going to blow everyone away next offseason.
"When did the Giants become the Tampa Bay Rays?" @mrclarkinc
It started in 2018, when Bobby Evans was let go and ownership looked hard at what was going on in Tampa Bay, including Chaim Bloom -- who later went to the Red Sox -- in the search for the job that ultimately went to Zaidi. I wrote about the connections during the World Series, and that story includes this quote from Gabe Kapler, who beat out a Rays coach to get the manager job: "I think an organization that we all think pretty highly of that's doing great things in the industry is the Tampa Bay Rays." That's from Kapler's very first day in San Francisco.
The Giants are doing a lot of what the Rays are, and for good reason. It works! Here's the difference, though: They have the money to keep the good times going when they come. If they develop a Snell or a Chris Archer, they'll never have to trade him.
The goal is to be a smart team that also spends in a smart way, which is what the Dodgers have become under the leadership of Andrew Friedman, who came from ... Tampa Bay. I think we have a pretty good idea by now that the Giants are building in a smart and creative way. What we don't know is how much they're ultimately willing to spend.
"Like the moves but am surprised they haven't addressed any longer-term pieces. Meaning maybe one starter who will be the starter next year?" -- @S49erfan
I'm a little surprised myself. It's not this front office's style to hand out long-term deals, but still, the only player who has gotten more than one year is La Stella, who will sign for three. La Stella and Evan Longoria are the only Giants with a guaranteed contract for 2022.
That leads to a lot of flexibility, but also a lot of work, particularly in the rotation as you mentioned. If the Giants aren't able to lock a few prospects into place, it's possible they'll go into the offseason looking for basically an entire lineup and an entire rotation. I asked Zaidi about that recently and he pointed out there's a lot that can get done during the season, and that a lot of these guys may be brought back. But yeah, it's fair to question why they didn't at least get a two- or three-year deal done with Gausman, who ended up getting a massive salary for 2020.
"It's really sad when I can say, "I'm neither excited or disappointed in the off-season" They have a long way to go before they can contend in the NL West. Hopefully, it's not all over by July 1st." -- giantsfanthom
Let's end with a good old-fashioned reasonable take. It's 100 percent fair to say the Giants have done good work this offseason, but that they really haven't done much to fire up the fan base, and I've heard from a lot of fans who are tired of the revolving door with all these one-year deals. It's hard to connect with players when you know that if they're really successful, they might be traded in July or find a bigger deal elsewhere in November.
My advice is simply to enjoy the fact that the Giants have enough talent that they should be competitive pretty deep into the season, and also to keep one eye on the future. A big part of 2021 will be how much development the Giants see from guys like Luciano, Ramos, Corry and Bishop at the lower levels of the minors.