Its funny how quick the sands shift. In early August fans were getting amped for a Melky/Posey/Pablo/Pence heart of the order, and Angel Pagan was the odd man out in the re-sign OF sweepstakes. Brian Sabean was issuing assurances there would be plenty of money for both Melky and Pence long term. Fans were gearing up for some great arguments on how much to pay Melky (5/75MM! Beat the Rowand contract! Are you kidding me – he has a 389 BABIP! Give him the Huffy contract! 2/20MM with an option!). Then the rug got pulled out. Angel Pagan got dropped to the leadoff, had himself a great end of summer followed by a spunky playoffs including 2 leadoff dingerz and a taco bell stolen base, and suddenly the focus changed to how much Angel Pagan might get paid.
The Giants fired off their estimate on Pagan’s value right quick by declining to offer him the qualifying offer, currently 13.3MM on a one year contract, in order to secure draft pick compensation in case he departed for greener pastures. This has stirred up some debate: why do the Giants refuse to participate in draft comp games like most the other first division teams? Is this some kind of gift to Pagan to keep his value from taking the hit in order to negotiate better? Are they afraid he would accept their offer and blow up the precious and oft discussed budget?
Here is what I think they are doing: they are going to offer him 3 years at 8MM a year, for a total contract of 3/24MM. If they offered compensation and he accepts, they are on the hook for more than half the annual value for one year that they want to throw down for 3 years. They have no intention of chasing Pagan into an Aaron Rowand type contract, and if some team comes over the top at 4/40MM, or the fateful 5/60MM, so be it, but they don’t want the risk. If this is the case, and I do think this is the case because since the Rowand contract with only a couple exceptions the Giants have shown incredible discipline on the years offered to Free Agents for contracts, then they will have to look at other options, including the trade market.
I am a big fan of Angel Pagan. He is fast, he brings great baserunning to the table, a pretty nice bat, some dramatic fielding and a team mentality. It was a great trade to bring him over here, shuffling off RamRam and Torres. But he isn’t without faults. Here they are: he is a good CF, but not a great one. He doesn’t have a good first step, but he makes up for it with blazing speed. He is a good fill in at leadoff, but not a natural leadoff guy, because his OBP isn’t stellar. He has versatility all over the OF, but moved to the corners he is sort of a tweener. Most of all, he will be 32-34 over a 3 year contract. At a price, that is a good bet, but you don’t want to chase a speed guy with too many years because speed fades, and then there is trouble. In addition, you don’t have a track record the way a Nick Swisher does, and you have some injury history. So good for the Greybeards to hold the line at a price they are comfortable with. The only question is – will they counteroffer up to 3/30MM? Throw in a 4th year option? I think they will say no thanks, and look to the trade market.
So… Trades! Here is why I think there might be a trade: Sabean gets success with something that works, he immediately goes back to the well. Ryan Vogelsong busts out into the greatest ex-farmhand story in Orange and Black history, what does he do? Hello Boof Bonser et al. What did he do last year that was so successful? He traded for two fast, athletic slightly dinged OFs who were not cheap but not expensive with an age profile of 27 and 30 – very young by recent Sabean standards. I fully expect the Giants to look in this direction again.
But what do the Giants really have to trade? Sabean’s MO is to find some spare parts and shuffle them off for other spare parts. He will not be sending a major piece that he has on the big club. As far as I can see, the only trade chips he currently has on the 25 are as follows: Santiago Casilla, who is going to be dreadfully expensive in his last round of arbitration, an estimate of 5.3MM. Folks around here really want to package up a switch hitting young catcher who has a habit of swinging the bat quite a bit, but Stabin’ Hacktor Sanchez is going nowhere, because the Giants love him. I’ll include him due to the overwhelming community hatred though. That’s about it. Ain’t no way they are trading Romo, the Brandons and I don’t think Blanco/Arias have any real value. On the farm, Brown/Panik could be viewed as chips, but they, like Hector, are most likely seen as the future, not as chips. The pitching? Well, Kyle Crick could bring some nice returns, but after Wheeler I think the Giants don’t want to mess with their depth at the position. But there is always the chance a young pitcher could turn opposing GMs heads, so Kyle Crick is the third trade chip.
So here are the parameters: age: has to be between 26-30 to establish some sort of MLB bonafides and still have chance for improvement; speed: has to be decent to excellent; defense: has to be plus; salary: has to be established and beyond pre-arbitration and bat: has to be interesting, but isn’t the first priority.
Browsing through (and I welcome all ideas here) these are the guys I found that fit that profile: Drew Stubbs, Franklin Gutierrez and Denard Span. None of these guys are stars, they have had up and down success, they are about to be or are already a tad bit pricey and they all bring excellent defense to the table.
Drew Stubbs: Pick your poison:
Stubbs might be falling out of favor in Cincy, all of his stats are declining, some at scary rates. His sneaky power might be a Great American Ballpark creation. He strikes out a ton, something that will definitely raise some heckles with Los Gigantes (are those swinging strikes or taking strikes – makes a difference you know!). He would be a project, and the Giants would have to have some sort of tweaking mechanics plan in store for him. On the plus side, sometimes change of scenery does wonders, he is a first round talent, his defense is great. And even if he is a bit beat up, he has a platoon split that dovetails nicely with Gregor Blanco, making a nice tandem possibility. The Reds have another alternative ready to slot in with Chris Heisey, as well as uber prospect Billy Hamilton tearing up the minors.
What will Stubbs cost? Well, the Reds might need some RH bullpen help. They might want to go a different route than re-signing Fat Boy Broxton. But I have to say, despite my distrust of Casilla, he does have the best arm in the Gints pen right now, and he’d be an overpay for Stubbs. And besides Casilla, there really isn’t anything the Giants have of value that is equal. The Reds will not be interested in Chris Dominguez, or other scrubs. They want to contend right now. And the Gints don’t want to give up even a lesser SP prospect, such as Mike Kickham. So I see this as a hard trade to make, unless the Reds are giving away Stubbs. He is scheduled to make 2MM-2.5MM in arbitration, that’s not a lot of money to worry about for the Reds.
Franklin Gutierrez: Pick your poison:
Gutierrez is an interesting one, he is the third most expensive salary currently on the Mariners, he has never lived up to his potential with the bat and he has always had injury problems. So there are a lot of red flags here. The Mariners most likely need him, although they might be able to go with Michael Saunders as a cheap fill in. He’s set to make 7MM, which is only 1.7MM more than Casilla. Do you do that swap, straight up? The Mariners pen is a work in progress, they don’t have any expensive parts, and most likely Jack Z subscribes to the no-proven closer book. But Casilla is sort of in between right now, and might be viewed as a potential closer. Not sure how he is viewed by opposing GMs, but that might be a sale. Gutierrez, when he isn’t injured, brings some crazy nice defense to the table. You could almost call him a lefty masher, although I’ve got in trouble for those type of comments before. RH bat, great defense, questionable ability to stay on the field. Worth the gamble?
Denard Span: Pick your poison:
I think Denard Span is the most interesting of these 3. He has battled through a rough concussion injury that sidelined him for most of 2011. He had a great 2012, making his value the highest. He brings excellent defense that is also highly rated statistically. Because Minny also has Ben Revere, they are in a position of redundancy, and Span is now set to make 4.75MM this year, 6.5MM in 2014 and an option of 9MM/500K buyout for 2015. Span is a lefty bat, which has its challenges with the young Brandons and possibly Blanco filling out the lineup. He has been around for a long time, being picked in the Moneyball draft a few clicks before MATT CAIN. The Giants will be salivating at his ability to put the ball in play – 254BB/321K in 2671 PAs. Only 62 Ks in 568 PAs last year. Now for some attempts to beat down his value: after a stellar 2009 he has yet to push his OBP back up above .350, much less the .392 he put up that year. He will not hit for power, he’s a straight up leadoff guy. Because of his expense he would be a piece you would want to build around, not just plug in for a year, and Gary Brown is lurking.
What would he cost? The Twins are in a weird place, with franchise cornerstone Mauer sitting there, a bunch of front office turmoil, a signing of The Japanese Shortstop instead of hanging onto JJ Hardy but mainly their pitching just hasn’t worked out. They need pitching in the worst way. The Giants don’t really have major league ready cheap pitching, so that is going to be a tough sell. I don’t think Casilla is enough to get Span on his own. So do you include Crick? Kickham? Hmmm… A part of the big club pen, a good pitching prospect, and another throw in… this sounds familiar. Run away! Most likely Span is going to get drooled over this offseason as an alternative to the CF FA market, and somebody like the Rays are going to swoop in with cheap pitching. Still, he is an interesting guy, with amazing defense and some upside with the bat.
That’s there the trade ideas. Any other athletic fast good defense OFs out there that fit the Melky/Pagan profile?
On the FA front, once Pagan goes to greener pastures: Michael Bourn is hugely overrated, and there is no way the Giants are going to get in on that action. Instead of ranting, I’ll just paste this rant, which was pretty good:
Shane Victorino? Pu-lease. The Giants want good wholesome players who are even better people than players. That’s a direct Sabean quote, almost.
BJ Upton? Will be bid up something fierce, and what has BJ Upton ever done to fulfill any of that five tool potential? His K’s are insane, his OBP is in a downward spiral and his CF defense is overrated. And he’s expensive.
Which brings me back to Gregor Blanco. And the way of the Sabean: the scrapheap. And-res Tor-res! And-res Tor-res! Torres showed up to the Bell in a spiffy Blue Velvet suit. How many other ex Giants did that? (My buddy had Rich Aurilia sitting right in front of him Game 1 of the WS – he immediately texted “Is this a good thing or a jinx?” – I went with Good Giant, Good Vibes) Torres can be a great one year deal, providing defense that when combined with Blanco could be extremely fun to watch.
OK, getting loopy here. Better stop for the day. Blanco in CF, go get a corner bat. I’m on record that Torii Hunter is the way to go. Here’s why – He is one of the only players on the planet who can shift Hunter Pence to LF. Gold Glove! Spiderman! Proven vet with more years than Hunter! Plus you have the bonus of having 2 Hunters in the same OF, Larry Baer will have many fun t-shirts to sell.
I wanted to hit trade ideas, and then this fanpost fizzled with a quickness! But the FA market has been discussed a fair amount already.