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How can the Phillies and/or Royals help the Giants this offseason?

Rumors are that both teams are try-curious when it comes to switching up their roster and maybe that can be to the Giants’ advantage.

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MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Atlanta Braves Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Two separate news items popped up over the past 48 hours that are important for the Giants if they truly are set on hiring a new GM:

  • Jon Heyman stated, “The Royals are expected to cut their payroll by $30 million to $35 million, from $120 million to $85 million to $90”...
  • Ken Rosenthal chimed in with this video (which is difficult to load, thanks to Foxsports’ terrible video player) where he says, “ #Phillies are open to trading all but two players this off-season, according to a source.” Those two players are Rhys Hoskins and Aaron Nola.

Even if the Giants do dump Bobby Evans, Brian Sabean is expected to remain as a figurehead in the organization who doesn’t handle day-to-day operations and Larry Baer will retain his role as the managing general partner, so the idea that the team is suddenly going to become the Tampa Bay Rays or even the Oakland A’s in terms of payroll and roster management is a non-starter. The Giants will still be a familiar enough version of the Giants that it will make irresponsible speculation posts like this possible through at least this offseason.

There is, of course, a very good chance that a new exec comes in with some dynamic remodel plan for the team but has to wait it out until Sabean and Bochy’s contracts expire. In any case, the Giants are probably set on doing triage for the 2019 team instead of resurrecting the team in a new form. That means dealing with payroll-slashing teams is a must and being willing to get creativity is imperative.

Here’s a quick look at what the Giants need heading into 2019:

  • everything

Here’s a quick look at what the Royals and Phillies could make available this offseason:

  • starting pitching
  • power hitting
  • relief pitching
  • on-base ability

So, in the abstract, both of these teams would seem to be a fit for a Giants team very likely poised to make aggressive moves to reload one more time. That might mean moving a Bumgarner or a Dereck Rodriguez or even a Heliot Ramos, but the Giants will have built-in an excuse to make such drastic moves by bringing in a new person from outside the organization and that person had better give good press conference.

Practically, though, there’s probably a very narrow list of players who’d both be made available and could be helpful to the Giants. I’ll speculate by team:

Royals

My cynicism won’t allow me to ignore Ian Kennedy’s presence in their starting rotation. It’s a miracle he’s never been a Giant before. He’s also due $33 million over the next two seasons, but due to the structure of his deal, his CBT figure is $14 million per. The Giants could easily absorb this contract (Hunter Pence’s expiring deal is worth $18 million) and net themselves a veteran major league starter to fill out the back end of the rotation. Sub-optimal, but he checks too many Giants-y boxes, so I would be a bad fan to not include him on the list.

On the other hand, the Giants could offer to absorb Ian Kennedy’s deal if the Royals included semi-power-hitting right fielder Jorge Soler, who will be 27 at the start of next season. He could easily fill the corner outfield role not occupied by Andrew McCutchen (should they re-sign him). He’s also under contract through 2020 (for a very low $3.3 million CBT figure). Of course, most teams out there would love to acquire a player like Soler and would be just as willing to take on one of the Royals’ bad contracts, so the Giants would have some stiff competition. They also can’t offer nearly as much in return. Still, you never know.

Alex Gordon would be a poor fit for the Giants and it would be a huge PR hit for the Royals just a few years removed from a World Series victory, but his $18 million CBT figure might compel the Royals to do a bad, bad thing. Gordon has been a below league average hitter in each of the last three seasons (put it another way: his OPS hasn’t cracked .700 since 2015), and he’ll be 35 years old to start next season. It’s the final year of his deal, though, so it might behoove the Royals to just ride it out and do the whole farewell tour thing.

It’s not all that bad, Royals fans. You get cool shirts like this:

But if the Royals really want to shed payroll and do damage to the fan base like that, the Giants’ new GM might be able to make it work by getting some solid prospects or bullpen arms attached to Gordon’s large deal.

Phillies

This is trickier. The Phillies are a #SmartBaseball team, which means they’ll probably want property rights and stock options in any acquisition and want young, controllable players coming back to them in any big moves they make. The Giants don’t have many young, controllable players who might interest other teams and any they might move would have a weird domino effect on other areas of the team.

Move Dereck Rodriguez? Well, now you’ve got a rotation problem. Trade Will Smith and/or Tony Watson? The solid-ish bullpen is immediately a question mark. Trade Brandon Belt and suddenly the team doesn’t have a de facto best hitter. Of course, there’s also the possibility of trading a player deemed to be vital for other players who can be just as vital.

As much as people like to criticize the Rays, they’re good at trading away players whose skill set they can duplicate either in-house or in the free agent market and using those traded away players to acquire talent and/or depth in weaker areas. Read this Jeff Sullivan article to get a better sense of what I mean.

So, if a new GM brings in creative thinking, then dealing with the Phillies and their interesting talent isn’t an impossibility.

The Phillies signed Carlos Santana to a three-year deal this past offseason which pushed Rhys Hoskins to left field. His defense is too bad to make that work, but what to do with Santana? Would they trade him to get Hoskins back over to first base? Would a team be willing to admit that they made a mistake? Was it even a mistake?

The Giants don’t need Carlos Santana, but on the other hand, maybe they would if they moved Brandon Belt? Maybe they could help another team acquire Santana and gain a player or two of their own? The new exec might actually have the ability to organize and execute a three-way deal.

The rest of the Phillies’ main lineup are arbitration eligible — second baseman Cesar Hernandez, center fielder Odubel Herrera, and third baseman Maikel Franco — and clear upgrades over what the Giants currently have at those positions. Maybe a swap of arbitration players makes sense in one of these instances, or maybe this is where the Giants dangle a Shaun Anderson or Andrew Suarez.

A team with the Giants’ money can do something weird like that, because like that Rays article suggests, they can trade from strength and then use free agency to replenish what was lost. Would you rather have Andrew Suarez or Patrick Corbin and Odubel Herrera?


The Giants need an open mind and a new approach to the offseason, even if they plan to try one more reload for 2019. Since all teams overvalue prospects these days, it makes sense to deal with teams looking to jettison or adjust their major league rosters. The Giants’ current major league roster should not be considered sacrosanct — no one has been infallible.