San Francisco Giants: Paying the price for a delayed rebuild
The San Francisco Giants have put off rebuilding for several years, and now they are forced to pay the price. Get ready for a long road ahead.
San Francisco Giants ace Madison Bumgarner throws the 68th pitch of his five-inning relief appearance and his 291st of a seven-game series with the Kansas City Royals.
“Popped up…Sandoval…in foul territory…GIANTS WIN!.”
It’s a moment Giants fans have treated like that album that only has one good song, constantly revisiting, admiring, and opting to replay again and again, rather than moving on to the next.
The organization is not dissimilar in this regard.
That moment is relived for good reason. The team’s third championship in five years was easily its most hard-fought, and Bumgarner’s iconic performance made it a truly memorable run.
It was no longer a dynasty in the making—it was a dynasty.
And then it unraveled.
Despite having a similar roster, the Giants missed the playoffs in 2015. They did the same thing immediately following their previous two championships, but this time, something was different.
The front office saw the championship window closing and swung for the fences in free agency, giving Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto a combined $220 million.
That investment paid off early. Both pitchers started 32 games and they combined for 30 wins with Cueto posting a 2.79 ERA and Samardzija logging a 3.81 ERA. Cueto also joined Bumgarner, Buster Posey and Brandon Belt on the NL All-Star team.
The Giants once again made the playoffs but lost to the eventual champion Chicago Cubs in four games in the NLDS.
The spending continued the following offseason when closer Mark Melancon was signed to the richest deal ever for a reliever at the time. Unfortunately, the season did not go as planned. The team’s long-standing core saw their play start to decline and the roster was hit hard by the injury bug.
At the close of the 2017 season, the San Francisco Giants were left with a veteran-heavy roster that had just won an NL-worst 64 games and had zero prospects on the top 100 list.
Failing to recognize the need to rebuild, the Giants instead traded for two more veterans in Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen.
To be fair, that duo had eight All-Star appearances between them, but they failed to live up to expectations—or their hefty price tags—in their first season wearing the orange and black.
The injury bug also returned, and despite a decent start, the 2018 Giants finished 17 games back of a wild-card spot.
That brings us to now.
The Giants have stumbled out of the gates to a 21-32 record, and early trades rumors are already piling up with Bumgarner and closer Will Smith both expected to be sought after chips. Even though the team has the fifth-highest payroll, it seems like the rebuild is officially on.
There are a few bright spots down on the farm with Joey Bart, Heliot Ramos and Sean Hjelle leading the pack, but nowhere near the amount of young talent that a team in upheaval needs.
They valued established, aging players with big contracts over their own, younger guys, and when those vets didn’t pan out, they had no plan B. You can’t fully fault the front office. No one likes a rebuild, and trying to win a fourth World Series in the same decade is an opportunity few would pass up.
But now they have to pay the price in the form of a rebuild that will take considerably longer than it would have if they had not delayed the inevitable.
The next song on the album is finally playing. It sounds ugly, and you can’t skip it, but you can at least hold out hope that the next one will be worth the wait.