We’ll know today if the Giants have re-signed Will Smith to a deal or will be setup for an arbitration hearing before Spring Training. The deadline is just a little over an hour from now. Whether the team agrees to terms or does a “file and trial”, we won’t really know what the plan is for 2019, but given the overall lack of activity, it’s safe to assume that a tank is in the air, and given the Giants many roster certainties and the cruelty of time, there’s a very strong chance that 2020 will be a punt year, too.
There are simply too many known quantities on the Giants payroll at this point and too many immovable objects. Even if players like Belt, Crawford, and Melancon rebuild their value in 2019 and beyond, their ages, contracts, and no trade clauses will make any moves virtually impossible. The team could get more creative, I suppose, and 2020 would see Johnny Cueto’s return, but something tells me we’re actually going to be in this rebuild for a lot longer than one year. There aren’t many options available to the team, even if they get incredibly creative.
Free agents won’t want to sign with the Giants because they’re bad. Farhan Zaidi’s practice of acquiring “lottery ticket” players will need to be tweaked as he experiences the
Oracle AT&T Park Effect on hitters and pitchers firsthand. The farm system will need a lot of luck and developmental leaps to produce any viable talent. While it’s still possible that all the 30+ year olds who will actually play in 2019 could have bounce back seasons, let’s assume that the last two seasons of degradation are more indicative of future performance.
The team isn’t going to change much year-to-year in 2019 and 2020 and, so, the results will be the same as 2017 and 2018. It’s a sobering thought, but it’s the price of the team’s recent success. That doesn’t mean future success will require future punishments of this magnitude — surely, some of these sabrmetric brain geniuses will figure out a way to engineer perpetually competitive teams — but, for now, the Giants are paying for success without innovation.
That just means we’ve got to suffer through two more years of bad baseball and innovate our own expressions of such misery. We should embrace the challenge.