By: Noah Wright
The Giants went out and made some big trades during this off season, and acquired two former stars with Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria. However, neither have panned out to what the team was expecting. Now The Giants sit 6.5 out of the division, and 6 out of the wild card. Their team could go down one of two paths. Retool or Rebuild. With enough reasons to do either, lets see what the more likely could be.
The Giants still have a solid core they could build around. The main player that they could build off of is Buster Posey. The all-star catchers’ power has slowly been dwindling, but he can still be relied on for a really good OBP, with a .365% this season, and average, with a .290 batting avg. His behind the plate defense is also a reliable asset. He currently has 9 DRS, and is worth 1.1 defensive WAR. Posey also has thrown out an above average 30% of runners trying to take a base off of him. Another piece that’s controllable through 2021 is first baseman Brandon Belt. Belt is having a career year with the bat. While Belt has spent time on The DL, he’s still batting .279/.372/.470 with 14 home runs, 43 RBI’s, and 129 wRC+. He continues to be a good 1B defender with 10 DRS, 4 UZR, and .5 defensive WAR. Shortstop Brandon Crawford is also having an outstanding season. His fielding continues to be a gold glove level play (9 DRS, .9 UZR, 1.4 defensive WAR), and his bat is coming alive this season. His batting line statistics of .285/.354/.444 are all career highs, along with is 114 wRC+. In the rotation, Madison Bumgarner is having a nice year, with a 3.06 ERA, 3.78 FIP, and 1.200 WHIP. However if he can stay healthy for a long period of time, he can be the ace we all know he can be. The same can be said with right hander Johnny Cueto, who’s only pitched in 9 games this season, but has a 3.23 ERA, 4.71 FIP, 1.113 WHIP, and low 2.2 walks/9 rate. The Giants have one more year in 2019 with Bumgarner, but have until 2022 with Cueto. In the bullpen, Hunter Strickland can be a very good late inning pitcher when he’s not punching doors. Former all-star closer Mark Melancon could be an all star once again if he can stay healthy. Lefties Tony Watson and Will Smith both have a year (Smith) and two years (Watson) left on their contract. If this team does decide to retool, they need to find a good outfielder. Hunter Pence and Andrew McCutchen are both on the final years of their contract, and on the decline. So far their best outfielder has been Gorkys Hernandez. The Giants have been connected to a few players in the trade market, like Billy Hamilton. However when off season time comes, I could see them being big spenders for outfielders. One name that comes to mind is Bryce Harper. Another, more possible name is D-Backs center fielder A.J. Pollock. One last outfielder they could go after is current Indian left fielder Michael Brantley. However, the team could use an internal solution like rookie/prospect Steven Duggar. They could also use another starter. Jeff Samardzija has been so-so since coming to The Giants. However this season has been his worst. So far, the right hander has a 6.25 ERA, 5.45 FIP, and 1.534 WHIP. His K/9 rate has also dropped to 6, and his walk rate has risen to 5.2. However, his struggles can be affected by injuries, as he’s only made 10 starts this season. Dereck Rodriguez (Ivan Rodriguez’s son) has come up to the majors, and performed fairly well in his rookie season. He currently has a 2.7 5 ERA, 3.47 FIP, 1.153 WHIP, and a 2.3 walks/9 rate in 59 innings this season. However, the 5 spot is a bit shaky. Derek Holland, Andrew Suarez, Chris Stratton, Ty Blach, and Tyler Beede have all taken a shot at the role with varying results. During the off season, The Giants could be interested in bringing in a solid back end piece like Jeremy Hellickson, or Anibal Sanchez. Or they could go after a pitcher that’s around middle rotation level like Gio Gonzalez, or Drew Pomeranz. Some infield positions are also an area of concern. Joe Panik has struggled this season, both with injuries and performance. This season, Panik has batted just .240/.309/.345 with 4 home runs and just 81 wRC+. Panik has also not reached positive marks in DRS, defensive WAR, or UZR since 2016. Internally, they could use Alen Hanson, or sign a player during free agency to pair with Panik. Joe does do fairly well against right handed pitching (.281/.347/.425 line), so at most, all that might be needed is a platoon partner. One option that could be looked at is current Dodger Logan Forsythe, as he has a .270/.344/.449 line against left handed pitching. However overall, this is not an issue the team needs to address with their utmost concern. At third base, a declining Evan Longoria mans the hot corner. Longoria turns 33 in October, and has been in a decline since 2014, and his last good season was 2016. However, Longoria still is controlled through 2023, and is being a fairly hefty amount for his performance. While it’s unlikely that they would be willing to spend on another third baseman when Longoria’s first year in SF has been mainly held back by injuries, they may go out and get a player they can rely on around the field, in case his injuries continue. One option is former teammate Eduardo Nunez. Marwin Gonzalez will also hit free agency this offseason too, who could be another potential target for The Giants.
While The Giants’ core is still a decent core, it’s aging, and not getting any younger. Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Johnny Cueto, and Madison Bumgarner are all near 30, or over 30. Plus, their farm system isn’t great. They have no true elite prospect, except for maybe Joey Bart, but he was just drafted earlier this season.Even their MLB ready guys aren’t necessarily lighting up high level minors pitching, or doing amazing against high level minors batting. The first ones to go are likely going to be players on the last year of their contract. The biggest name being Andrew McCutchen. The next player to go will probably be Derek Holland, who’s been having a decent overall season, and could bring an experienced arm to a contender needing a long relief guy out of the pen, or a back end starter. Another arm The Giants will likely be willing to move at either this year’s deadline, or this off season is Tony Watson. Watson has been a big piece of their bullpen this season with a 2.12 ERA, 2.69 FIP, 1.007 WHIP, 9.1 K/9 rate, and 1.9 walk/9 rate. A team in desperate need of bullpen help, and especially since he’s a decent lefty, could be willing to give up at least one top 100 guy.The least likely I see The Giants moving is Bumgarner and Posey. However, I could see them trading both Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt. Both players could reel in at least one top 100 prospect, maybe even two, and could really help kickstart a rebuild.
As of right now, I do think The Giants have at least one more chance to go for the playoffs, but not this season. Their overall team isn’t completely ready to blow everything up. However, if they cannot add a few pieces this off-season, and can’t make the playoffs next season, I do see them entering a rebuild.