Over at MLB Trade Rumors, Matt Swartz has been accurately predicting arbitration midpoints for a couple seasons now. It's been a tremendous resource. The 2014/2015 batch is up, and they have estimates for the Giants' seven arbitration-eligible players. Some will stick around, some will become extension fodder, and some will go gently into that non-tender goodnight. A look at those seven players and their projected salaries (if the Giants choose to sign them).
Juan Gutierrez ($1.7 million)
There's probably a better chance of Javier Lopez becoming a starting pitcher than there is the Giants paying Gutierrez $1.7 million to be the last man out of the bullpen. It was a funny, if predictable, season for Gutierrez and the Giants. He was signed as a minor-league free agent with a chance to make the bullpen by default. He made the bullpen by default. He was excellent at not allowing runs, even though his peripheral statistics said that was unlikely to continue. It didn't continue. He had a miserable end to the season and finished with the numbers that led him to minor-league free agency in the first place.
He throws hard. I'll give him that. But on a team that already has George Kontos and Hunter Strickland, the sixth-inning bridge spot is already filled by a dinger-prone righty. He'll likely be non-tendered.
Gregor Blanco ($3.5 million)
There was a time -- back when Blanco was the scapegoat for everything wrong in the universe, including antibiotic-resistant infections and Emeril -- when the Giants paying Blanco was an open question. No longer. Do you see how valuable it is to have one of the best fourth outfielders in baseball now? I mean, we all should have seen it after the Giants won the World Series in 2012, when Blanco had to fill in for the suspended #3 hitter. But having him step in for the leadoff hitter and getting another ring should erase all future questions.
Even if this particular fourth outfielder ALMOST MADE THE MOST FAMOUS ERROR IN WORLD SERIES HISTORY, give or take a Buckner. At $3.5 million, he's still a good value for at least another year.
Yusmeiro Petit ($1.6 million)
What a danged coup. Petit is under contract for next season, too, but I wonder if there's a way to leverage this low salary into an extension. Three years, $15 million with a team option has to appeal to someone who has spent a decade waiting for this chance, and it limits the Giants' risk if he gets bitten by the dinger beetle again.
Regardless, I don't see how Petit isn't in the rotation to start the season next year, so this is a very, very team-friendly sum on a team that can use more of them.
Brandon Belt ($3.4 million)
The injury-filled season made it a tick harder to figure out an extension for him. There's no reason for Belt to work out an extension when his value took a little dip, not when he isn't a free agent for three more seasons. There are good reasons for the Giants to push for one, but there's also some value in prudence until we figure out exactly what kind of player Belt is.
He's still a bargain, though.
Travis Ishikawa ($800,000)
There are two factions forming: One that thinks the Giants' loyalty extends to a player like Ishikawa, who did an incredible job on short notice and cemented his strange place in Giants lore. Another thinks that the Giants realize he's a bad fit for the roster, as currently constructed, and he'll be given a Jelly of the Month membership on his way out the door.
I don't think $800,000 is an unreasonable amount for the Giants to play a backup first baseman, and Ishikawa is better than the flotsam you might find on the waiver wire. On the other hand, a right-handed complement for Belt makes more sense, especially when you consider the Giants have an in-house option with Adam Duvall.
The Giants are sentimental fools, as am I, but I think they'll pass on this one. Or they'll give him the salary without any guarantees, and he gets to spend his Triple-A time in a new city. Visit exciting Old Town, Travis!
Brandon Crawford ($2.5 million)
This. This is an extension candidate. He's three years from free agency, sure, but he's also making far less than he would on the open market. Extensions for a player like this happen because he's willing to give up a year or two of free agency in exchange for an instant boost in salary. There's an entire offseason or three to figure it out, but the gap between arbitration value and actual value is big enough that everyone involved has to explore the idea of an extension.
It's like when I was temping 12 years ago. I wasn't being paid what I was worth, so I stole office supplies and breakroom snacks to make up for it, and eventually they hired me on full-time. It's just like that, but with shortstops.
Hector Sanchez ($1 million)
I would sure feel better if we had seen more of Sanchez during the postseason, just hanging out in the dugout and playing the George Kontos role. Hopefully, his brain is well enough to let him live a normal life. The baseball stuff comes second. This isn't a lot of money for a young backup catcher either way, and the Giants will pay it.
The Giants have a lot of decisions to make in the free-agent market, but there aren't a lot of tough ones when it comes to their arbitration-eligible players. Gutierrez is probably gone. Ishikawa might be, or he might stick around in some capacity. The other five are sticking around. Also, the Giants won the World Series. Have a nice day.