Last year at this time, there was a little speculation that Hunter Pence could be non-tendered. He was dreadful in the last two months of the season, and because he was a Super-Two player, he was going to be expensive. The Giants pooh-poohed that talk and re-signed him for almost $14 million.
Last year at this time, Pence's five year, $90 million deal would have turned your brain into a snappy, angry crab trying to escape. It would have hurt. A lot. Be glad you didn't have advance knowledge of that deal.
This offseason, there are six arbitration-eligible players that the Giants can choose to keep or cut loose. From MLB Trade Rumors, here they are with their projected salaries:
Brandon Belt $2.4MM
Gregor Blanco $2.2MM
Jose Mijares $2.1MM
Yusmeiro Petit $1.3MM
Joaquin Arias $1.2MM
Tony Abreu $700K
One by one, let's see if the player in question is worth that much ...
Obviously. MLBTR suggests the Giants might work out a long-term deal to buy those arbitration years out, especially now that he's a Super Two. I would not be against this.
Yes. Let's take a look at the top WAR marks from Giants left fielders since the team moved to San Francisco.
1. Barry Bonds
2. Barry Bonds
3. Barry Bonds
4. Barry Bonds
5. Barry Bonds
Okay, wait, let's look at the top WARs from non-Bonds left fielders in San Francisco history, then.
That's not a bad way to gain perspective. Blanco's season wasn't that much worse than Moises Alou's best season with the Giants, at least when you adjust for era, league, baserunning, and defense.
That's if you trust WAR. Which is still an open debate. But while I'm not going to spend my time arguing that Ken Henderson was .4 WARs better than Blanco, I don't think it's a stretch to consider Blanco a valuable player who helped the Giants for the second straight season. He's still a bargain, even if he's a fourth outfielder.
Nope. Not with Jeremy Affeldt under contract. Not with the Giants likely to make an ill-advised (but pleasant) push for Javier Lopez. Not for over $2 million. Mijares was pretty lousy last year -- hittable, even as his strikeout/walk numbers were acceptable. That might indicate poor luck. But if I'm the Giants, I don't pay to see what's under the box for 2014. (It's nothing but doubles.)
That's a nope in August, and a definite yep in October. Baseball, you sick freak. But the Giants don't have a Guillermo Mota guy to put in the fourth inning of a blowout, and Petit's as good as any of the internal options. He'd get close to double the major-league minimum, so it's not like he's the difference between Jeff Keppinger or Robinson Cano on the open market.
Plus, Petit might actually get a rotation slot. I'm still skeptical, but it could happen. If he does, and if he's cromulent, he'd be a bargain.
Joaquin Arias and Tony Abreu
Yes. But only one. One utility infielder will make you larger, and the other one makes you sm ... wait, no, that's actually not true. But there's no reason to pay two million for redundant players.
I'll make an uneducated guess that Abreu would be the better player over 500 at-bats. But I'll make an educated guess that Arias has a better chance of staying healthy. Both of them are viable utility infielders, but I'll take the cost certainty of Arias.
There you go. And it should be noted that the MLBTR arbitration estimates are often uncannily accurate. These are probably close to what the Giants will settle for (because they never actually go to arbitration) if they choose to keep the players in question.