It’s entirely possible that the Giants are done adding to their lineup. They have Evan Longoria. They have Andrew McCutchen. They have asked the rest of the league VERY NICELY to stop throwing baseballs at Brandon Belt. And they just might start Steven Duggar in center field.
If they are done, that’s because they’ve decided to spend their remaining $3 million or so on a starting pitcher. There’s a strong argument to make for this, depending on how eager or scared you are to watch Tyler Beede, Ty Blach, or Andrew Suarez every fifth day. The Giants aren’t necessarily thinking like this ...
Bobby Evans said Giants aren't focused on having veterans come in and compete for rotation spots. Blach/Stratton are favorites to be 4/5 starters, followed by Beede/Suarez. Law is frontrunner for Crick's job.— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) January 19, 2018
... but it is still on the back of their mind. This means it’s time to rank the Giants’ options on the free agent market.
Note that the Giants will have roughly $3 million or $4 million to spend before they get into the luxury tax, which they’ve spent all winter desperately avoiding. If they were willing to get into the luxury tax for a starting pitcher, they would have kept Matt Moore. That written, I have no idea how many of these pitchers would actually sign for a modest $3 million contract. No idea! This offseason is a Lewis Carroll poem, and I’m done trying to make sense of it.
Assuming that these are the pitchers who would at least consider a low-priced, one-year deal, though ...
22. Ubaldo Jimenez
Pro: You’ve heard of him!
Con: Exceptionally bad at throwing baseballs. No idea where the ball is going. Has the ugliest delivery in MLB. Would be absolutely maddening to watch. Please, no. No, no, no. Please.
21. Jeff Locke
Pro: Used to be a boring, efficient starter in the best possible way. Has always existed in one form or another since the beginning of the sport.
Con: Was dreadful last year, and hasn’t been that good since 2013, really.
20. Jesse Chavez
Pro: Had a solid career through 2015
Con: Not so much after that.
19. Bartolo Colon
Pro: Memes. Jokes. Jokey memes. Girth. Mirth. All the irths, really.
Con: He’s kind of 45, and he was very bad last year. That’s a rough combo.
18. A.J. Griffin
Pro: Young-ish, large pitcher who was always a highly thought of prospect
Con: Limited major league success since 2013. Gave up 20 homers in 77 innings last year, which ... really, really isn’t good.
17. Tyler Pill
Pro: Hell yeah, Brett Pill’s brother.
Con: Doesn’t miss bats. Lackluster minor-league career.
16. Clay Buchholz
Pro: Lots of success in his career, and he’s only 33. Perfect example of a guy who needs to take an NRI but could impress in spring.
Con: Hurt and awful last year. Also:
15. Anibal Sanchez
Pro: Used to be excellent. Would be a fine pitcher to explore in spring training with a no-risk NRI.
Con: That’s what other teams might have said about Matt Cain if he were still pitching, and you probably wouldn’t have been eager to watch him in the rotation again, even we still love him dearly.
14. Edinson Volquez
Pro: Would remind me of Brandon Crawford’s grand slam. Occasionally effective.
Con: Erratic as starting pitchers get. Always a threat to lead the league in walks. Might be looking for a bigger deal than the Giants can offer.
13. Brett Anderson
Pro: Solid Twitter account. Gives you good innings when he’s healthy.
Con: Hasn’t been healthy or effective since 2015.
12. Derek Holland
Pro: Former rotation mainstay who provided positive value for every team he pitched for before last season. Has a Twitter handle that doubles as a fart joke.
Con: Was truly awful last year, with a huge spike in walks allowed. Often hurt.
11. Scott Feldman
Pro: He’s almost never bad, which isn’t what you can say for most of the pitchers on this list. His floor would appear to be “meh,” which isn’t a bad thing. He’s also the fifth-most famous BHS graduate after Marc Benioff, Shirley Jackson, the guy who did Fox Trot, and me.
Con: Gave up 21 homers in 111 innings last year, which ... isn’t good. Will be 35.
10. Jaime Garcia
Pro: Solid pitcher who provides value even when he’s hurt
Con: Will almost certainly be too expensive. Hurt often. The salary is the biggest drawback.
9. Francisco Liriano
Pro: Closure. Has a high upside. One of the best sliders in the game when it’s right.
Con: Will likely be too expensive. Was terrible last year. Is definitely more Jonathan Sanchez at this stage of his career than he ever has been, and that would give us a rash.
8. Jake Peavy
Pro: lol why not
Con: lol come on
7. Travis Wood
Pro: An All-Star in the past and a fine reliever as recently as 2016.
Con: Absolutely abysmal last year, whether in the rotation or in the bullpen.
6. Hector Santiago
Pro: Was a fine pitcher for years. Last year was the first time he was worth less than a win above replacement.
Con: Surrrrrre gives up a lot of dingers. Might still be too expensive. Was very hittable last year.
5. Chris Tillman
Pro: An actual Opening Day starter-type. Perfect buy-low candidate.
Con: Would almost certainly require some sort of incentive-based deal that could jimmy up the Giants’ ability to stay under the luxury tax threshold if he’s good again. Was perhaps the worst pitcher in baseball last year, which sure is some kind of accomplishment.
4. Hideaki Wakui
Pro: Had never heard of him before this post, which means I’ve never seen him fail! Moderate success in Japan over the last few years after a fast start. Funky delivery, and you can’t spell that without “fun.”
Con: Fastball sits in the high 80s. No idea what his market is.
3. Drew Hutchison
Pro: Just 27 years old. Has a history of missing bats. Strong season in Triple-A last year. Could possibly accept a minor-league deal and NRI.
Con: Has thrown just 24 innings in the majors since 2015. Career 4.91 ERA is rough (though his 4.25 FIP is more encouraging).
2. Trevor Cahill
Pro: Performed really well as a starter for the Padres. Pairs a hard sinker with a newfound ability to miss bats.
Con: Might be too expensive for the Giants. Was awful after being traded to the Royals. Has had an incredibly erratic career.
1. R.A. Dickey
Pro: Actually good. Was worth two wins above replacement last year, which is more than Jake Arrieta. Knuckleballs are fun as hell to watch.
Con: Almost certainly too expensive. Would mess either Buster Posey or Nick Hundley up. 43 years old. But the salary and the luxury tax are the biggest cons.
Is there a line of demarcation, where the Giants really would be better off with Beede, Blach, or Suarez? Yes, and it’s probably right after Scott Feldman or Brett Anderson. But it’s important to note that we don’t know which of these pitchers would settle for a minor-league deal and an invitation to spring training. If a handful of them will, then by all means, throw them into the shopping cart and see if any of them look like their old selves in Scottsdale. Hutchison would be my top target if he’s not looking for more than a million guaranteed.
Dickey would be my top target if the offseason stalemate breaks and he’s left without a chair. I don’t know how that would work with Posey and Hundley, but the dude’s been good and effective on the cheap for a couple years now. It would be a fine move if the stars align.
Those are the Giants’ options, and there are at least a couple of interesting ones in there. Please note that when you tell me that one of these pitchers is out for 2018 and another one has officially retired, I won’t even bother to edit this because I’m just that lazy. Thank you.