The San Francisco Giants entered the 2016 season with the 20th ranked farm system thanks to a pretty decent 2015 draft, and a willingness to increase payroll. They were ready to spend and they needed to address their starting rotation and their outfield depth. Sound familiar?
Then as the market started to play out, they quickly learned that free agent hitters had no interest in coming to San Francisco and if they were to acquire free agent hitters, they’d have to grossly overpay.
Instead, Bobby Evans decided to assemble a shutdown rotation. So he went out and signed Jeff Samardzija to a 5 year $90 million contract with a limited no trade clause (8 teams per year). Whoops!
I think some Giants fans were fine with signing Samardzija, but it seemed like a high price to pay and a lot of years for someone coming off of his worst professional season. It wasn’t only his worst, but it was a league worst. Evans was hoping and probably praying that Samardzija’s 2015 season was an anomaly and he would regain form in 2016 and make Evans look like a genius.
Then Bobby Evans added another huge rotation piece by signing Johnny Cueto to a 6 year $130 million contract with an AAV of $21.6 million through his age 36 season. I don’t remember the Cueto signing being particularly divisive, but I do remember some skepticism from people worried that Cueto was entering the back-end of his career and was shaky after Kansas City acquired him in the middle of the 2015 season. However, Cueto was still a great number 2 behind Bumgarner and with Matt Cain returning from an injury plagued 2015 season the rotation was looking pretty good.
They also signed Denard Span, which was fine. Who cares?
The 2016 season started great for the Giants Johnny Cueto was dominant and Jeff Samardzija pitched okay, not 5 years $90 million okay, but he pitched above average (105 ERA+/3.44 DRA/76.1 DRA-). Then after the all-star break the Giants season took a nose dive. Injuries hit the Giants and exposed their lack of depth. Matt Duffy was nagged with an achilles strain and Matt Cain continued to have arm problems. They needed to fortify their offense and solidify the back-end of their rotation. They were able to manuever and hold enough ground to snag a wild card spot and go to the playoffs. Thanks to Conner Gillaspie and Madison Bumgarner, the Giants were able to sneak past the defending National League champion new York Mets and onto the Divisional round.
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Three days before the July 31 trade deadline, Bobby Evans traded Adalberto Mejia for Eduardo Nunez. This was probably the most fair trade of Bobby Evans tenure. Nunez was a solid contributor turning in a .9 bWAR after becoming a Giant.
Matt Moore is one of the more scrutinized Giants acquisitions because the Giants traded a beloved young player and his fat cat in the combination of Matt Duffy and Skeeter along with their MLB.com number 4 prospect Lucius Fox. Matt Moore pitched admirably in 2016 for the Giants (99 ERA+/3.86 DRA/85.4 DRA-), but he really stepped up in his game 4 NLDS start holding the eventual World Series champion Chicago Cubs to 2 runs over 8 innings before the bullpen let him down.
Yet another string of trades involving prospects or organizational pieces going out in exchange for players who can’t get the Giants over the hump. Although it was a disappointing end to the season, there was reason to be optimistic about Moore and the Giants heading into the 2017 season.