This was the offseason to spend, it seems. The Giants made millions upon millions upon millions of extra dollars with their postseason tour, and they threw that atop the pile of millions upon millions upon millions of dollars they made in the regular season, selling out every game. They have a win-now team that's relatively young, but still built for the present like few other teams. They were supposed to be free agent bullies.
Welcome back, Sergio Romo. Hey, Guillermo Quiroz, good to see you again.
Here's your locker, Carlos Triunfel.
This boring offseason has made Giants fans impatient. Some of them are completely livid, which is just amusing to me. It's like getting to the summit of Mt. Everest, looking around for five seconds, and spending the entire descent on the phone with Comcast customer service. Why would you do that to yourself? I'm furrowing my brow at the offseason, too, but I don't understand getting kick-the-cat mad. Like, everything worked out! Right back there, remember? We don't even have to play the 2010/2012 cards anymore. Everything was perfect six weeks ago.
I'll be disappointed if the Giants finish the offseason nothing but Romo and Ryan Vogelsong, too, even if I'm a sucker for nostalgia. The Giants have three clear ways to upgrade their roster and lots of money to play with. That doesn't seem like the profile of a team that should have a quiet offseason.
It's worth complaining about the lack of contingency plans in the event that Pablo Sandoval left. It's worth complaining that every move this offseason has seemingly caught the team by surprise. It's not worth complaining about the team pocketing the money, even if they don't end up with Max Scherzer or James Shields. Here's why:
1. They made huge offers to Sandoval and Jon Lester
Getting mad at the Giants for being cheap means that you have to believe they weren't really in either race, that they were leaking rumors for PR purposes. That is one silly conspiracy theory. They were deep into negotiations with both players, and while it's possible that Sandoval was never going to sign and was just using the Giants, I really believe the team and Lester had serious mutual interest. The Giants targeted Lester early and pursued him, and Lester loved the idea of playing for Bruce Bochy and Dave Righetti in front of sold-out crowds.
He just liked the idea of the Cubs more. It was closer to home, the money was better after income taxes and cost of living, and there's something to the idea of being the guy who brings home the first Cubs championship in 100 years that trumps being the dude who helps with the fourth Giants title in six years. Who knows his reasoning? The point is that the Giants can't just walk into Costco and come away with an expensive six-pack of Jon Lester seasons, or they would have done it. The player gets a say, too, for some reason.
2. Overpaying just to overpay is a silly strategy
The Giants liked Yasmany Tomas, but they had reservations. They pegged him at a certain value. They chased him. The Diamondbacks pegged him at a higher value. The Giants backed off.
What's wrong with that strategy? I don't want my favorite team entering negotiations thinking, "Well, he's probably a $40 million player, but we'll go up to $80 million because we're jittery and worried about missing out on the rest of the offseason." Get mad at them for undervaluing players you think are more valuable. Don't get mad at them for being cheap, just because they weren't convinced certain free agents were worth the contracts they got.
The Giants might be worried about the volatility of Max Scherzer. They might think the inside of his shoulder looks like this:
They might want Scherzer, in theory, but only at the money they were going to give Lester. Anything more than that? Maybe they're concerned it would affect future budgets too much, and the short-term help isn't likely enough to be worth it.
I'm okay with that rationale. It's how I feel, too. Scherzer scares the bejeepers out of me. But just because the Giants might want to pay $25 million a year, but are totally uncomfortable with $30 million, it doesn't mean they're being cheap. It means they're sticking to a long-term plan like grownups.
Most grownups. I mean, I don't have a long-term plan. Pretty much just gonna blog for a living forever. Don't see any problems with that idea.
3. Their lack of covetable prospects is hurting the more than fiscal prudence
They want Justin Upton. Who wouldn't? There's a dinger monster on the trade market, and the other team is looking for young players. The Giants want to match up, except the Braves already think they have their catcher of the future with Christian Bethancourt, and the Giants probably aren't wild about trading Joe Panik and more for a year of Upton.
If they had some dandy middle-infield prospects, maybe a toolsy outfielder on the Baseball America top-100 list, a few safe arms with top-prospect upside, the deal might already be done. They might have Cole Hamels, too. As is, the Giants are incredibly uncomfortable trading one starting position player in for another one, especially when there isn't a great backup plan for the player they're dealing away, and they don't have
4. The Giants are going to be one of the highest-payroll teams again, regardless
Looks like they're going to be about sixth in baseball if they don't do anything else, behind the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Tigers, and Phillies. They probably have the means to vault over a couple of those teams. That doesn't mean they're cheap and pocketing their World Series windfall. The Giants aren't the Braves, sticking with a $90 million payroll for a decade or more, regardless of salary inflation.
They're spending. Stupidly, in a couple places, but they're spending.
5. There's still offseason left
James Shields lives in San Diego. The Giants play 64 games at Petco Park every year. He's a good fit for the ballpark. The Giants have a need and extra cash. It almost makes too much sense.
Jim Bowden pegs the Giants as having the second-best odds for Scherzer. There aren't a lot of Scherzer rumors right now, probably because that's how Scott Boras wants it. Still, the Giants could still give the right-hander a team-record deal. Be careful what you wish for. It's not like he's a 27-year-old Felix Hernandez hitting free agency after years of steady success. Someone's going to regret this, even if next year's rotation would be really, really, really cool with Scherzer in it.
If the Giants end the offseason with Romo, Casey McGehee, and Ryan Vogelsong, I'll be upset. Disappointed. Completely underwhelmed. I'll be mad at a lot of things -- the players who turned down the Giants, the lack of imagination from the front office, putting all of the eggs in the Sandoval basket before they did the same with the Lester basket.
I won't be mad at the Giants for being cheap, though. Not this year.
They're also projecting a huge drop in panda-hat sales, you know.