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Let’s dare the Giants to have a $200 million payroll in 2023

It’s not our money, but it is our time!

Money Stock Photo by Lynne Cameron/PA Images via Getty Images

I never thought I’d blog about the San Francisco Giants again. Towards the ends of my managing editor tenure, I lost track of what the job was about: bringing the fan’s perspective. Oh sure, my original flavor of fandom was not all that cheerful, but times have changed, and the Giants’ on-field performance has been, according to reputable statistical hubs, stinky poo-poo butt. So now, just as a fan, I’m here to encourage them to stop being so pathetic.

Yes, they have a sound process in place, one that got them 107 wins last year, compelled them to repeat the roster this year, and will probably lead them to do pretty much the same next year, including keeping payroll around $150 million, in hopes of a slightly better result. That plan could work. A lot of fans like the team’s process, too. Maybe these same fans are reading this post. I’m with you on the process! Process good! Prospects are 2-3 years away! Great! You know what else is great and could also work? SPENDING LOTS OF MONEY.

So, join me in daring the Giants to spend a lot of money on their major league payroll.

Specifically, two hundred million dollars.

That’s the minimum bar for entry if you want to be taken seriously as a professional baseball team. Here are this year’s NL playoff contenders with their Opening Day raw payrolls (according to Cot’s MLB Contracts), and their competitive balance tax (CBT) number in parenthesis:

LAD - $280.8 million ($302.3)
NYM - $264.4 million ($287.9)
PHI - $228.7 million ($237.1)
SD - $211.2 million ($230.3)
ATL - $177.6 million ($206.1)
STL - $155.3 million ($174.4)
MIL - $131.9 million ($149.5)

Annnnnnd the Giants:

SFG - $155.4 million ($171.6)

The Cardinals and Brewers have the benefit of playing in the NL Central but also have realized what the Giants still lack: reliably good low cost talent in the form of graduated prospects. The Giants don’t have that option yet and by their own admission, won’t for a while. Dare them to work around that setback.

I want the Giants to be competitive. So do you. Obviously, we have our own ideas of what that looks like. We want the Giants to be able to contend for years and years and not find themselves in this seemingly unending cycle of needing veterans to paper over the lack of quality prospects. But I also want them to stop looking like stinky poo-poo butts. As soon as possible, if not sooner.

So, won’t you join me in daring the team to throw some more cash at the major league payroll next year? Shout it out your window, call your congressperson, scoot up next to Hunter Pence and tell him to pass it on that we’re daring the Giants to spend $200 million on the 2023 team.

And I don’t mean $200 million on baseball operations. I mean the 40-man roster! Don’t let them get away with saying, “Well, we already spend a substantial amount on our players, maybe even close to or more than that number.” It would be true but not what we’re daring them to do! What do I mean?

From Cots, the Giants committed around $16 million in player benefits and $1.667 million to the new CBA’s MLB pre-arbitration bonus pool. They had around $13 million budgeted for the amateur draft and international signing period. I have no idea what amount the annual debt service is on their new $70 million MiLB facility in Arizona, nor the combined salaries of execs, coaches, scouts, assistants, and administrative support staff, or how much goes to minor league pay; however, that’s not going to stop me from taking the three firmer figures (benefits + pre-arb pool + amateurs = $31.167 million) and rounding the non-player payroll portion of the baseball ops budget to $40 million.

If you add $40 million to the 2022 payroll figure of $155.4 million, you see that we get pretty close to arriving at a sexy round number of $200 million. If Forbes’ $384 million stadium revenue figure for 2021 is accurate, I think $200 million comes off as a fair amount to assume for our purposes. Especially when we consider teams get $100 million just from their national media contracts.

The Giants have $70 million on the books next year, before the $22 million Carlos Rodon will almost certainly opt out of and before Evan Longoria’s option (another $8 million to go with the guaranteed $5 million buyout). Take that $40 million non-player stuff, add to the $70 million and you’re at $110 million, with 14 potential arbitration cases: Yastrzemski, J.D. Davis, Slater, Jarlin Garcia, Jharel Cotton, John Brebbia, Lewis Brinson, Zack Littell (lol. LMAO), LaMonte Wade Jr., Logan Webb, Thairo Estrada, Jakob Junis, Austin Wynns, and Alex Young.

I don’t know who’s staying or going or what their arb number might be, so I will just say this group is $30 million. Now we’re at $140 million, $40 million of which is, remember, non-40 man dollars. We are daring the Giants to spend $200 million on just the 40-man roster. That would mean $100 million for trades and free agents this offseason. I’m not worried about the CBT threshold, either (it’s $233 million). Very possible to stay under that.

I’m a reasonable person: I see the pitfalls of this dare. The roster needs a lot of work and good free agent hitters are wary of Oracle Park. Off-field, the world has never been this volatile in the stadium’s history. But I also don’t see how the Giants would wield $100 million new dollars so wildly that they’d block prospects or ruin future plans. Zaidi will still avoid 4+-year contracts to pitchers and top of the market free agent hitters will use the Giants’ offer to get better deals elsewhere like they always do.

Sure, Zaidi and Harris could sign $100 million worth of Tommy La Stellas, but is that scenario probable? Or even plausible? I don’t think so. And if it is, let’s see it happen! We’ll learn something new about them. But just think about how reasonable this dare sounds with a specific dollar amount attached to it.

Last week, a GQ story went around about dudes having their legs broken in order to get a height-boosting surgery. Those interviewed all had their own reasons for doing it, but it boiled down to perception and self-respect. Taller men have statistical advantages over short men, and so some shorter men with means leveraged their money to improve their chances for success in the near- and long-term. And, of course, improved their self-esteem.

The Giants are Short Men. $200 million on next year’s payroll is the leg-breaking height boosting surgery. It might look weird to people familiar to the Giants, but it has a much better chance of remaking the Giants into what they claim they want to be: a good, entertaining baseball team as soon as next year. So, let’s dare the Giants to break their own legs! We DARE the Giants to spend $200 million dollars on next year’s team.