San Francisco Giants: The Case for Keeping Jeff Samardzija and Mark Melancon
By Jeff Young
The San Francisco Giants have a number of under-performing contracts on their books. In theory, they would like to rid themselves of these contracts as soon as possible. But, is it a good idea?
Jeff Samardzija and Mark Melancon each have 2 years remaining on their contracts. The amount owed from these 2 contracts will likely limit the San Francisco Giants ability to spend in free agency.
In a hypothetical scenario, the Giants could trade both Melancon and Samardzija in a salary dump. The Dodgers pulled off a similar move recently.
Last season, the Dodgers traded away Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Kazmir, and Brandon McCarthy for Matt Kemp. All 3 players the Dodgers traded away were on expiring contracts. However, Kemp had 2 years remaining on his contract.
The trade made sense for the Dodgers because it enabled them to get below the luxury tax. However, in acquiring Kemp, the Dodgers spread their payroll obligations across 2 seasons, rather than 1 season. They did not dump salary. Rather, they just spread the money out a little more evenly. So, could the Giants pull off a similar move?
Well, it is complicated. The biggest deterrent is that Melancon has a full no-trade clause, whereas Samardzija has a partial no-trade clause. Ultimately, a deal would be unlikely.
However, the Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks could match up as hypothetical trade partners:
The Diamondbacks would really like to get Zack Greinke’s contract off the books. It just so happens that the Giants could afford to absorb that contract with the help of some financial gymnastics.
Greinke has 3 years and about $95 million remaining on his contract. He posted a 3.21 ERA last season with peripherals that suggest he is still a quality pitcher. While the Diamondbacks would like to get rid of Greinke, he still gives them value on the mound.
Enter Jeff Samardzija and Mark Melancon. Samardzija has 2 years and nearly $40 million remaining on his contract, whereas Melancon has 2 years and $28 million remaining. Neither one has lived up to his contract. And, it is fair to suggest that a change of scenery might be needed.
The Giants and Diamondbacks could match-up as trade partners here. If the Diamondbacks take on Samardzija’s and Melancon’s contracts in exchange for Greinke, then they will reduce their payroll obligations significantly.
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The Diamondbacks would receive the benefit of clearing money off of their books one year sooner. And, the Giants would rid themselves of the Samardzija and Melancon contracts.
However, in trading Samardzija and Melancon, the Giants payroll obligations would not change much from an average annual value standpoint. If they acquired a player like Greinke, then it is very likely they will receive a contract that runs longer than the contracts of both Melancon and Samardzija.
Greinke is unique in that the Diamondbacks want to rid themselves of the contract, but he remains a productive player. So, while they may want to dump salary, his on-field performance still merits modest assets in a trade.
While the Giants and Diamondbacks may line up on paper in a potential salary dump trade, it may not actually make sense. The Giants would like to rid themselves of the Melancon and Samardzija contracts. This is easier said than done as both have no-trade clauses.
However, both contracts only have 2 years remaining. If the goal is to get their money off of the books, then it does not make sense to add future payroll obligations.
The Dodgers trade last offseason serves as the most recent example of a salary dump . They made that trade to dip beneath the luxury tax. However, they took on an extra year of payroll obligations in acquiring Matt Kemp.
The San Francisco Giants are already under the luxury tax. Of course, they would like to get more value from Melancon and Samardzija. But, does it make sense to acquire a longer term contract?
Melancon and Samardzija are not likely to be traded. However, with the Diamondbacks making Greinke available for trade, it does create an interesting thought experiment.
Regardless, trading either Melancon or Samardzija or both would not improve the San Francisco Giants payroll situation. Rather, it would likely add to their future payroll obligations. So, staying the course, and hoping the Giants can salvage value from either one might still be the best solution.