Sep 2, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Scott Kazmir (26) pitches against the Seattle Mariners in the second inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
There are too many factors going for a Leake reunion. He’s pitched well since coming over, obviously appreciates the shift to a pitchers’ park, and would probably take less money to be managed by an old family friend. Pencil him in for several years to come.
Between the two big-name outfielders I floated, I’d lean heavily toward Heyward over Upton based on his overall game (namely his gold-glove defense). Of the aces, San Francisco would gladly bring in Price, Kazmir or Zimmerman, but Price is eliminated based off the competition the Giants are sure to face on the market—the same type of competition that cost them Jon Lester last year.
So, Heyward or Kazmir/Zimmerman?
I’d love to go with Heyward, but his age (26), upside and tools will probably make him the offseason’s highest-paid position player when all the dust settles. The bidding war for him and Price will likely take the top suitor to the $180-$220 million range—a territory the Giants will be timid to reenter following the Barry Zito and Matt Cain deals (honorable mention to the ghost of Aaron Rowand). With a stout defense and AT&T Park in consideration, another front-end starter makes more sense anyway.
That leaves us with Kazmir versus Zimmerman—a truly tough call. Both profile as complete pitchers that would immediately push the Giants into contention as a clear No. 2 between Bumgarner and Leake. I could see either of them being hugely successful in San Francisco.
Ultimately, though Zimmerman is younger (29), I say the Giants swing a deal with Kazmir given that they can sign him for fewer years and arguably get better production in that time. Staying with the Astros will no doubt be attractive to the Houston native, but don’t forget that the veteran’s career resurgence came full circle in the Bay Area.
Final conclusion: Leake (4-5 years at $15-17 million per) + Kazmir (2-3 years at $18-20 million per) + *Aoki (1 year at $5.5 million) + *Byrd (1 year at $5.5 million)
*Aoki comes back on club option; Byrd doesn’t vest but re-signs
If the Giants don’t exceed those totals, they would still be left with over $10 million without going into the tax, leaving the door open for adding a utility player or late-inning reliever.
As for the outfield, a rotation of Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, Nori Aoki, Angel Pagan and Marlon Byrd really isn’t bad at all Pence can stay healthy. If Pagan’s September surge can convince another team to take on his $10 million salary—or even most of it—in 2016, then all the better.
Let’s save those scenarios for a different day.