As expected, the San Francisco Giants are already “involved” with the league’s high-profile free agents in the early going of the offseason. To be specific, they’ve already been linked to players like Aaron Judge, Trea Turner, Mitch Haniger, Brandon Nimmo, Kenley Jansen, Kodai Senga and the recently non-tendered Cody Bellinger.
When all is said and done with their current group of players, the Giants will have $142 million committed to the 2023 season, giving them ~$90 million to spend before hitting the first luxury tax threshold of $233 million.
That’s quite a bit, but the Dodgers aren’t too far behind at ~$176 million. They have flexibility, which is one reason LA fans shouldn’t be too worried about the Giants’ supposed aggression.
The other, more important reason? The Giants have far more work to do than the average fan might realize. Their 107-win 2021 season might’ve turned some heads, but perhaps we’re forgetting that was buoyed by unexpected renaissance seasons from aging veterans in Evan Longoria, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford and Buster Posey.
Posey and Longoria are no longer with the team. Belt, a free agent, is probably gone, too. Donovan Solano, who batted .280 that year, wasn’t on the team in 2022. Mike Yastrzemski and LaMonte Wade Jr. might not be all they were hyped up to be. Darin Ruf, after a career year in 2021, was traded to the Mets in 2022.
The Dodgers don’t need to worry about the Giants’ moves in free agency
In summation: the Giants aren’t good. They haven’t been sustainably good since … honestly, we’re not sure. Even when they won three World Series between 2010-2014, they missed the playoffs every year in between and before/after (2009, 2011, 2013, 2015). The 2021 season was the first time they made the postseason since their NLDS loss to the Cubs in 2016.
Outside of a career year from Joc Pederson and a Cy Young-caliber campaign from Carlos Rodón, the Giants had nothing to write home about in 2022. Pederson will be back for 2023, but is on a one-year deal, and Rodón rejected the qualifying offer and is likely to get paid by the highest bidder in free agency.
San Fran’s long-term outlook is fairly bleak. Their farm system, per MLB.com, is ranked 18th in the league. They don’t particularly have much top talent slated to make a big-league impact in the immediate future.
Per those aforementioned free agents the Giants have already expressed interest in, they would probably need more than half of them to field a Wild Card team. And there’s no guaranteed up-and-coming talent (there never is … but there really isn’t here) to supplement a crew of free agent stars as the years progress.
And if they want to spend $15+ million to bring in former Dodger Kenley Jansen? So be it. Not sure how many meaningful games he’ll be in line to save after that .500 season in San Fran.
Even if fans are looking ahead to the 2024 and 2025 payrolls, where they have under $100 million in total commitments, all that means is there will be a greater need for contributing players/talent. Crawford, a team leader, will be gone in 2024. Alex Wood, Alex Cobb, Tommy La Stella, and Pederson, among others, will be free agents.
Signing top talent right now with a largely undefined future and no sustainable structure in sight will probably result in a more chaotic situation than a stable one for the Giants.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers have a top farm system, a championship core, money to spend for big free agents, and just as much financial flexibility over the next few years.
Like we said, no reason to worry about this offseason.