What Dee Gordon could bring to the San Francisco Giants
By Hiren Patel
Preliminary talks are happening for Giancarlo Stanton, and the San Francisco Giants are right in the middle of it. Names mentioned so far from the Giants’ side are prospects Heliot Ramos, Tyler Beede, and Chris Shaw, as well as 2B Joe Panik.
Let me just preface this article by saying this is probably never happening. Any trade involving Stanton would be franchise altering and has oodles of downside with less oodles of upside.
With that said, the players mentioned are worth examining in greater detail. Stanton has become nearly over-analyzed with all the trade buzz, but let’s compare the two big-league keystone players.
Panik being in trade discussions will undoubtedly incite some rage amongst Giants fans as he represents the most recent homegrown All Star, is only 27 years old, and is affordable for at least three more seasons (projected to earn $3.5 million in 2018).
That’s exactly why a team that is shedding payroll like the Marlins would want him.
On Miami’s side of the deal, the name most frequently mentioned besides Stanton’s is speedy infielder Dee Gordon. The 29 year-old is also a natural candidate to be traded, as he is earning at least $37 million over the next three years.
A Marlins team going from Dee Gordon to Joe Panik would save about $7.5 million next year and several more millions over the subsequent two. However, if you’re a Giants fan, there are reasons to believe Dee Gordon is a better fit for the team right now than Panik is.
Since Denard Span entered his decline, the Giants have lacked any true speed threat. Consequently, the team has lacked the traditional burner Bruce Bochy likes to pencil in atop his lineup.
Simply put, Dee Gordon is one of the best leadoff players in the game today.
While his .341 OBP in 2017 isn’t anything to write home about, he’s proven he can get on base at a better clip than that and is an absolute terror when he does get on base. He’s stolen at least 58 bases in three of the past four years (30 stolen bases in just 79 games in 2016).
For Panik, his 2015 season is looking more and more like an outlier. If we take his stats from this past season, he’s best suited to either bat second or in the bottom third of the order.
Simply put, between Brandon Crawford, Hunter Pence, Denard Span, and whoever plays left field or third base, the Giants have too many of those players.
Now, consider the fact that Gordon brings much more value defensively than Panik does. Since 2015, when he moved to Miami, Gordon has been a consistently above average defender (0.7 dWAR last year), much of it due to his elite range.
While Panik isn’t Dan Uggla out there, he hasn’t necessarily been helping the team with his -0.8 dWAR last season. While there certainly is reason to believe he can bounce back to be average or better, you’re hoping for him to reach Gordon’s level of productivity in the field.
You may be wondering about how smart it would be for the Giants to acquire a 29 year-old whose value is predominantly in his legs. Well, while Gordon’s speed-based skill set could definitely decline towards the end of his contract, the Giants could be rid of him after his age-32 season, which is exactly how old Lorenzo Cain (another table-setter the Giants are said to be interested in) is.
Simply put, if the Marlins were willing to trade Dee Gordon, a bona fide table setter and quality defender, for “jack of all trades, master of none” Joe Panik straight up, I would take that deal even with the extra contractual obligations.
However, when factoring in the cap, the situation gets murkier.
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An overarching goal for the Giants front office is to get under the cap and reset their luxury tax cap before next offseason’s star-studded free agency.
Acquiring Stanton alone would give them roughly just $5 million more space before they’re over the cap. Then swapping Gordon for Panik would put the Giants about $2.5 million above.
The only way acquiring both works is if the Giants were to send back an expensive veteran on the last year of his contract, like, say … Denard Span? If I were in the Marlins position, I would certainly accept the $15 million left on Span’s contract ($11 million next year, plus $4 million buyout for 2019) to potentially be rid of the $332 million that they could owe Gordon and Stanton combined.
Sending back Span would give the Giants a little bit more room to sign a veteran to a one year contract as well to help at the hot corner or center field.
Marlins receive: 2B Joe Panik, CF Denard Span, SP Tyler Beede, OF/1B Chris Shaw, and RHP Chris Stratton
Giants receive: OF Giancarlo Stanton and 2B Dee Gordon
This would give the Giants a potential lineup of:
- 2B Dee Gordon
- SS Brandon Crawford
- RF Giancarlo Stanton
- C Buster Posey
- 1B Brandon Belt
- LF Hunter Pence
- CF Jarrod Dyson/Jon Jay/other?
- 3B Christian Arroyo?
Discounting the question marks at the bottom of the lineup, that 1-5 is deadly, particularly if Brandon Crawford can bounce back the way we know he can.
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If Johnny Cueto and Mark Melancon are healthy and productive enough to make the rotation and bullpen healthy, I trust this lineup to carry the team to playoff contention.
Well, that’s definitely a lot of “ifs” but a fan can dream, right?