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The projected salaries for the six arbitration-eligible Giants this offseason

MLB Trade Rumors took their first swing at salary projection for the upcoming offseason. Let’s see how the Giants fared.

Oakland Athletics v San Francisco Giants
“I want this many millions!”
Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

MLB Trade Rumors has a remarkable track record when it comes to projecting arbitration awards and you can read all about how they created their model here. They put out their latest predictions earlier today. The Giants are not a penny-pinching team, so to a large extent, these figures can be more “good to know” than vital to arm-chair GMing the team in the offseason.

As Grant did last year, let’s take a look at how MLBTR predicted the Giants and discuss what effect that might have on their decision-making.

Of course, complicating matters this offseason is the Giants’ upcoming change in leadership. It’s not entirely certain but seems fairly likely a given that whomever grabs the reins will not have the same affinity for the players that we do or the previous front office did. Maybe they’re Hunter Strickland’s biggest fan. Maybe they don’t like the cut of Joe Panik’s jib. Or maybe their only opportunity to make big changes will be through players not already under contract.

Until we know who’s running the show, we’ll just have to operate from our years of experience watching the team. Remember, these are what players would earn in a hearing, and teams can negotiate for lower totals. They can also trade the players’ rights to another team if they fear having to go to a hearing and paying these possible amounts.

Chase d’Arnaud

Projected arbitration award

Worth it, too much, or thanks for the memories?
Thanks for the memories. He turns 32 at the end of January and despite his relative versatility, he’s an entirely fungible player (sorry, Chase) on a 40-man roster. The team ran into a roster crunch throughout the season, and as much as they’ll need depth in 2019 to support injuries or poor performances, his spot seems destined to go to a player they need to protect from the Rule 5 draft.

Gorkys Hernandez

Projected arbitration award
$1.6 million

Worth it, too much, or thanks for the memories?
Worth it. Just barely. It would be tough for a team to walk away from a “power hitter” (yes, I’m using the term very lightly here) when it struggles to collect power hitters, and as an organization, they’re extremely thin at all positions on the roster. And just to bring the new front office back into the discussion for a moment: they’ll need to add to what little power there is rather than subtract and hope to find it some other way.

On a one year deal, just to keep him around to fill in as a bench bat or late inning defender, it can work, and the end of his season (.162 / .220 / .286 after the All-Star Break) might actually give the Giants leverage to sign him for a little bit less than this figure.

Hunter Strickland

Projected arbitration award
$2.5 million

Worth it, too much, or thanks for the memories?
Thanks for the memories. The Giants might work out a trade in this situation, but it feels very much like he’s worn out his welcome in San Francisco. Since he broke his hand, he’s been nowhere close to the steady reliever he was at the beginning of the season, and although that strength and form might return next season, it just seems like the Giants could use his spot on a full season of Ray Black or a new reliever entirely.

Then again, for continuity’s sake, he might just stick around. Admittedly, I thought he might be up for a greater award amount on the basis of saves, as arbitration hearings only look at counting stats. So, they’d ignore his declining velocity and spin rates but see the save totals. But as MLBTR notes in their model, the arbiters also look at games played/pitched.

Any way you slice this, Hunter Strickland cost himself a lot of money.

Sam Dyson

Projected arbitration award
$5.4 million

Worth it, too much, or thanks for the memories?
Too much. That doesn’t mean the Giants shouldn’t try to work out a deal at a lower figure; but if they can’t trying to trade him would be better than an outright release. Signing him even if they wind up having to pay close to $5 million might even be worth it if they can just hold onto his rights to trade him at some point in the season.

Before last season, the Giants had to cut him before the start of the season to avoid having to pay his entire salary ($4.4 million). They opted not to do that despite his terrible Spring Training, and while it mostly worked out for the team from a performance standpoint, it strained their financial flexibility heading into the season. Even though we know how it all turned out, who knows what might’ve been had the Giants had an extra $3 million or so available once July rolled around.

This season, there has been no stated concern about avoiding the CBT penalty, so even if the Giants wind up having to pay Dyson more than last year’s $4.4 millon, it’s not quite the same situation and so absorbing that figure might be worth the gamble to see if he can put up another solid (0.5 fWAR) season or half season to set up a trade.

Will Smith

Projected arbitration award
$4.1 million

Worth it, too much, or thanks for the memories?
Worth it. Also, surprisingly low. Still, the reasons for this prediction seems to be that he missed all that time with Tommy John. The 14 saves this season certainly helped boost his number. He was also the Giants’ most valuable reliever (2.0 fWAR) and the 9th-most valuable in all of baseball.

The Evans/Sabean machinery might’ve done something like sign him to a 2-year, $10 million deal to build in a little cost certainty and reward him for coming back so strong and becoming a team leader (Willie Mac Award winner!), but we’ll have to see what the new algorithm does here. Still, whatever happens, the Giants will be able to easily afford his salary.

Joe Panik

Projected arbitration award
$4.2 million

Worth it, too much, or thanks for the memories?
Thanks for the memories. After two and a half years of miserable baseball, at least one familiar face has to go and his seems most likely. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that the Giants could trade him (Mets or Yankees could use him for depth) and they could certainly afford to keep him on the roster at least to start 2019 (he has one more year of arbitration). Still, Panik had a season 23% worse than league average and made around $3.5 million. The lineup needs a significant overhaul and while Panik isn’t the face of the problem, he’s been at least a part of the problem.

MLB Trade Rumor projects the Giants’ arbitration-eligibile players to combine for $18.6 million in salary, which is basically Hunter Pence’s 2018 salary, but also about a $5.5 million increase in the combined salaries of these players this season. Fans might prefer the team bring all these guys back for the cost of Hunter Pence while others might prefer the team spend that chunk of money elsewhere.

If Bobby Evans had kept his job, I would’ve predicted the Giants will bring back all but d’Arnaud. A new front office mentality means I can’t really hold onto that, though. Still, if Larry Baer’s edict to the new front office is to never rebuild, then I think they will, at minimum, keep what worked and shed the rest to create as much flexibility as possible, which means Watson Smith, Dyson, and Gorkys will for sure be tendered contracts. What do you think?