If the Giants can't sign Marco Scutaro, there will be issues.
I'm a free agent, too!
The free-agent market for second basemen is thin. Really thin.
I will work for banana chips, 12-packs of Keystone, and the convivial relationship I have with my patient and understanding teammates. And about a million dollars. I already know where the bathrooms are. Give me a call!
The internal option is Joaquin Arias. I like Arias! As a utility infielder. As a starting second baseman, he might not be much better than Ryan Theriot offensively.
I am also a free agent. I broke my leg in the offseason falling down or something, but don't worry about that.
Hey, maybe Joe Panik tears up the Eastern League and forces the Giants to call him up in 2013. That's not something to count on, though. Nor is it something to worry about in 2014 or 2015. If Panik shows up, I'm sure the Giants will handle the logjam with the same grace and eloquence they always handle their veteran-to-prospect transitions. He shouldn't prevent a multi-year deal with anyone.
Just get me the contract and a pen. I'll sign.
Without Marco Sctutaro, the next-best option on the free-agent market might be Kelly Johnson, who isn't very good. His only asset is left-handed power, which would get masticated and slavered out by the demons of AT&T Park. There's a 30-year-old named Hiroyuki Nakajima, and he had a career .856 OPS for the Seibu Lions. Which is something. There's also Jeff Keppinger.
Whoops, the pen fell off the table and now it's rolling to my left. I'll get it.
No, even if we didn't know about Marco Scutaro, postseason god, the old Marco Scutaro still would have been the best option this offseason. He just would have been a lot cheaper. Like, so cheap. One year, even.
But he was a playoff deity, and he knows this is the last contract he can milk. This isn't just about Marco Scutaro getting a Gulfstream; it's also about Marco Scutaro IV going to good schools. After toiling for a decade before his first starting job, this is the first and last time Scutaro can work out a lucrative deal.
I'll get it.
But just because Scutaro is the best option -- and it isn't even close -- does that mean there aren't any limits to what the Giants should sign him for? As in, Scutaro's the best option, so why not offer him an Aaron Rowand deal? Of course not. There are limits.
And that limit might be three years. We already know that Scutaro is going to get overpaid. Jamey Carroll signed for two years and $6.75 million last offseason, and he's almost the perfect comp for Scutaro. The age, the skill set, the defense … it's uncanny. But, okay, because Scutaro went bonkers in the second half and the postseason, a lot of us were anticipating a $10 million overpayment.
Comin' for you, pen.
A third year, though? He'll be 40 when the contract ends. 40. Let's take a look at the second basemen in baseball history who qualified for the batting title at 40:
Hey, three Hall of Famers! That's good company! But even the future Hall of Famers were mostly awful. That's bad. So a third year would be a close to a guaranteed sinkhole. Scutaro might have value as a utility infielder by then, but he'd be a helluva expensive utility guy.
/takes sip from water bottle, breathes heavily, puts hands on knees
If Rabbit Maranville's nickname were "Marmaduke", there's no way he'd be in the Hall of Fame. But we're off track. The point is that the Giants are caught between short-term needs and prudent long-term planning with this Scutaro contract. It's kind of fascinating.
You won't get the best of me, pen rolling softly to my left!
The things I wrote about Angel Pagan hold true for Scutaro, too. An added win in 2013 is likely to be much more important than an added win in 2015. So why are we so concerned about an extra few million in three years? Heck, the Dave Roberts contract probably prevented the Giants from signing Jorge Cantu or something awful, and it didn't hurt the Giants' chances to win. Which didn't exist at the time. So is it just the principle of the thing? Like, if Scutaro signs for a year too long and millions too many, is that going to hurt our little Giants-fan egos?
There go the Giants, we'll have to hear again, overpaying veterans because hurrh hurf hyuk.
At no point during this whole post did you think of me. You make me sick. Your mother didn't raise you to be this ungrateful. What happened?
That's not what's going on, though. This isn't the Giants overpaying for warm fuzzies. This is the Giants having exactly one decent option at second, with the option and his agent being well aware of that. The good news is that the Giants can recover some of that overpayment with Scutaro merchandise/giveaways, so they're probably willing to bend quite a bit.
/nose falls off
At three years, though … jeez. I don't see it. I just don't see it. As much as I want the Giants to scrape and scrap for every extra win in 2013, costs be damned, and as much as I want a Scutaro/Shawshank bobblehead, I can't see three years for a 38-year-old second baseman.
But let's say the upper limit to an acceptable contract in my mind is $18 million -- that can be spread out over two years and $9 million, or three and $6 million, whatever. Is it really worth starting the season with Arias just to save an extra million or four? Fine, I'll go to $19 million. But what if the difference is another million. How much is that going to affect the Giants' roster-building in the future, really? This can go on for a long, long, expensive time.
Now the Cardinals and Yankees are interested in Scutaro, which is icky all around.
There isn't a good answer, but I'm pretty sure that a) Scutaro isn't going to be worth the contract by the end of it, and b) I'll talk myself into whatever happens.