I've come around. I'm with you people now. I'm an advocate. Where I used to stare at MLB Trade Rumors and think about how 10-year contracts are banana pants for anyone, the thought excites me now. I'm in. Allow me to rummage in my knapsack for a pamphlet on Jason Heyward, hold on ...
But first we have the actual rumor. We heard yesterday that the Giants were hot, so hot, on Alex Gordon. Those rumors have not died down. Even if you struck them down, you would only make them stronger. On Wednesday morning, we had this from Buster Olney:
As the market now begins to shift toward the unsigned outfielders, rival evaluators see the Giants as frontrunners for Alex Gordon.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 9, 2015
As rumors go, it's kind of tepid -- rival evaluators might know more than us peons, but they're still not privy to the Giants' plan -- but it's confirming something that makes a lot of sense. The Giants need a left fielder, and here's one who fits their template perfectly.
If the Giants sign Gordon, the default mood will be happiness around here. I've seen comparisons to Aaron Rowand, mostly because he's atop Gordon's similarity scores on Baseball-Reference, but I'm not a fan of that comparison. For one, the sim scores are a toy, not a tool, and they're using the raw stats. Considering his era, Gordon has been a much better, much more consistent hitter. For two, Gordon is a much more technically sound hitter. He doesn't walk up to the plate and wag an ash-and-maple wang at the plate before poop-squatting in anticipation of a not-slider.
The deal would be a risk, a substantial one, as there are no guarantees that Gordon will still be productive when he's 34 or 35, or even palatable. He's older, and that's a problem. For 2016, when the Giants need him the most, he'll make them much better. Olney tweeted out a hypothetical lineup with Gordon in it, and Matt Duffy was hitting seventh. It was ludicrous, until you thought about who should hit seventh if you wanted to stagger the lefties and righties. The shortstop who hit 20 homers last year would hit eighth.
That's the default position of McCovey Chronicles: Worry about 2016. The Giants have a deep lineup now. They have a rock solid defense now. Pterodactyls might fly off with all of the good players by 2019. Or, if you're a glass-half-full sort, the farm system might be so loaded then, they won't care if Gordon's salary prevents them from getting free agents they don't really need.
However, they aren't the Blue Jays, either. These aren't 30-somethings entering their walk year. The Giants' best players are young players under contract for a long time, mostly. Let's switch the default position, then, to this: Worry about 2016, 2017, and 2018. We all know that baseball is a jerk, but when you have a team of 20-somethings, it's probably too cynical to expect the pterodactyls. Look out for them, sure, but not expect them.
And I don't know if Gordon is going to be good in 2018. He'll be 32 next year, the age where players give off the pheromones that pterodactyls can smell from miles away. It's not a given that he'll stave off decline next year, much less 2018.
Which is why ...
/removes Jason Heyward pamphlet from knapsack
... I'm here to spread the good word about Jason Heyward. He's looking for a 10-year deal, even though he's not exceptional at anything offensively. He'll hit a few homers, couple dozen doubles, keep the on-base percentage up enough to help a lineup, sure. But is that the profile of a 10-year, $200 million man? What about $240 million? You see the numbers and instinctively flinch. So long. So much.
Except Heyward turns 26 next year. He fits perfectly with the Giants' young core. If the Giants are hoping that core holds steady for the next three years, there isn't a better outfield fit. And, sure, by the end of the deal, Heyward will probably be a drag on the roster and payroll. That will hurt the Giants because they won't be able to sign ... some freshman in high school right now, which means they'll have a weak ... lineup ... or rotation ... unless it's both ... unless it's neither ... unless we're all underwater ... unless ...
If the goal is to win with a young core -- and if the Giants are committed to never, ever developing another outfielder after Chili Davis -- this is the fit. It's riskier than Gordon because a flop would go on much longer. It's safer than Gordon because the viper pit of age is far away. If you're worried about the money, take a look at the top contracts in free agency 10 years ago. It's adorable. Aw, look at Barry Zito's $126 million. Isn't it cute? We were so worried about it.
It was kind of a disaster, mind you. But if he were three years younger and the deal three years longer, the money would have been decent-enough-third-starter money by the end, not super-ace money. Likewise, a long Heyward deal will likely pay him starting-outfielder money, not MVP money, when he's on the fringes of the lineup. Get over the sticker shock of 10 years and think of him as a future Alex Gordon, ahead of his time.
Still okay with Gordon. Maybe Heyward doesn't want to come here, and maybe he'll get a $300 million offer, dunno. If it's a choice between the two, though, with the biggest difference being contract length, it shouldn't be a choice at all.