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Who’s next?

Wilmer Flores’ contract extension is done, but what does that mean for the rest of the Giants 2023 free agents?

San Francisco Giants v Chicago Cubs Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

The one perk for a front office of a losing ball club is that it can use this last month of the season to get a jump on battening down the hatches before the off season storm hits.

The extra time to get one’s ducks in a row without those pesky distractions of meaningful September games and a pennant race is a small small very small consolation, but one that Farhan Zaidi & Co. will take advantage of.

From a fan’s perspective, we want Zaidi to get the house of Giant in order now so he has a clearer picture of the state of the clubhouse and future seasons’ payroll when competing with other clubs for big name Free Agents.

A Judge-caliber signing is an all-hands-on-deck type move and extending Wilmer Flores contract before season’s end frees up a pinky. If Zaidi had his druthers, the Flores deal would kick start in-house contract discussions now that would store up valuable time and energy to expend later during the long winter months.

With needs at defense, infield and outfield, a top of the rotation starting pitcher, bullpen depth, an everyday bat—there’s some uh... work to be done. The good news is there are eligible players on the market who check multiple boxes on that list and some of them might even be in a San Francisco Giants uniform right now.

Joc Pederson has been a stalwart batsman this season and Farhan Zaidi has made it clear that he’s interested in bringing him back into the San Francisco fold.

Pederson is the mirror image of Flores in a lot of ways. He really can’t hit lefties. His outfield defense is bad. End stop. He’s an elite DH option against right-handed pitchers and can fill in on occasion in leftfield when someone needs a break. He comes with a lot of caveats, but his offense is worth pursuing.

I’d imagine Pederson, who’s been a recipient of one year deals since leaving Los Angeles, is probably looking for a place to settle down. It makes sense he’d want to do so in the area he grew up in and already lives with his family.

That being said, he’s an All-Star. He knows he can contribute to the 29 other teams in the Majors as well and might be a little coy about contract negotiations when he could use these last weeks of games as an opportunity to focus on increasing his on-field value.

Even if he is gung-ho on staying in the Bay and a deal is made before October, don’t expect Pederson’s representation to settle for a one year deal like they did last February. I’m sure they’ll use Flores’ contract as a model and ask for a multi-year deal (2-3 years) with a higher AAV.

Whatever the details are, it will probably be worth it.

Carlos Rodón is the other Giant free agent that the front office has expressed interest in bringing back to the Bay. Yes and yes and hell yes. He’s a no-brainer with zero limitations other than the fact that he can’t pitch every game. News on a deal or contract extension won’t happen anytime soon due to the machinations behind how his 2nd year option works.

While there’s a general consensus among the masses about re-signing Flores, Pederson and Rodón, debate over Evan Longoria and Brandon Belt will rage on the internet til the end of time.

During Sunday’s game, a mic’d up Longoria said he was interested in coming back and finishing out the final year of his 6 year contract. (He also eats Mac N’ Cheese with a spoon?)

Chatting with Kruk & Kuip in the booth during Wednesday’s afternoon game, Belt spoke openly about how his knee felt after surgery and his desire to keep playing baseball in 2023.

Zaidi has addressed both players’ possibilities in vague terms, hinting that talks would be ongoing. This is a diplomatic approach—if he had made up his mind that the veterans were through, Longoria and Belt weren’t going to hear about it by scrolling through Twitter.

Belt and Longo would obviously not be dead weight on a 2023 roster. They’re veteran experiences carry a lot of un-quantifiable value alone—and they can still freakin’ hit!

But they’re also two Frankenstein monsters with wonky shoulders and worse knees. The Giants do not need more players with caveats, asterisks and concessions orbiting around them like fleas around Pigpen.

For as analytic and cold as this game has become, nostalgia and sentiment still hold sway in these conversations. I like Longoria. I especially like Belt. Hearing him say how much he loves Kruk, Kuip and the entire Giants organization before cutting to footage of him feeding a baby giraffe in the Vallejo zoo is absolutely devastating. It’s hard to imagine the team without our Captain and it’d be even harder to see him in a uniform other than the orange-and-black.

So after a relatively pacific 2021, the Belt wars have been reignited. Earlier today, Brady wrote convincingly of Belt’s value with no clear in-house First Baseman to replace him. That’s true and the free agent options at first are slim with Josh Bell and Eric Hosmer. I’m all for Bell. Let’s sign him! End of discussion. Problem solved.

The best argument I can come up with extending offers to both players is that neither player would break the bank nor warrant a multi-year deal.

Longoria’s option will net a cost of 8 million dollars for the ‘23 season. Belt is a little more complicated because he accepted the club’s qualifying offer last year so they can’t offer him another one. He also told Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic that he wouldn’t accept a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training. If he was offered something, I bet it’d be similar to the 1 year/ 6 million contract that Pederson signed.

In ridiculous baseball bingo dollars, their price tag won’t be high. Though the true cost won’t come out of the owners’ bank accounts (is that how baseball finances work?) but more from playing time for younger, healthier, and more athletic players.

Belt on a bad knee could take away DH at-bats from Pederson, or frequently force him into the outfield which no one really wants. Longo could do the same to Flores. Both players could affect the playing time of David Villar or one of the many rising infield prospects.

The Giants do not need another Tommy La Stella. To be frank, one is one too many.

If Zaidi was to choose between the two, I’d think he’s more likely to extend the option to Longoria than re-sign Belt.

Longo is on the field right now and has a clear cost assigned to him while there are too many things up in the air for Belt. Post-op, he feels great and optimistic, but things could drastically change once he resumes baseball activity.

With Flores signed and Pederson the next priority, bringing both Longo and Belt back would elicit a reaction among Giants fans similar to the Parisian revolutionaries right before they stormed the Bastille. That’s not hyperbole and I’m sure Zaidi knows that. He’s made promises that San Francisco wasn’t going to sit on their hands and run it back like last offseason, but be aggressive for everyday players.

I can see how signing Flores and Pederson is a preface to a splashy signings to come. But keeping Longoria and Belt as well while shopping for an everyday position player just doesn’t make much sense to me.