Here are my predictions for the eventual contract of each of the six players set to reach free agency for the San Francisco Giants.
1B/3B Pablo Sandoval: Unsigned
Sandoval had a resurgent season in 2019, posting a 114 OPS+ with 14 home runs in 296 plate appearances while leading the majors with 18 pinch hits. However, the 33-year-old underwent Tommy John surgery at the beginning of September.
Didi Gregorius (8 months) and Shohei Ohtani (5 months) are two recent examples of hitters who came back from Tommy John surgery relatively quickly, but Sandoval will likely need to prove he’s healthy before anyone signs him.
RP Fernando Abad: Minor league deal
Abad, 33, posted a 2.70 ERA with a brilliant 55-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 50 innings of work at Triple-A after signing a minor league deal last winter. He was eventually called up to bolster a thinned-out relief corps, and he continued to pitch well in his return to the majors with a 4.15 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and eight holds in 21 appearances.
Despite his solid performance, another prove-it style minor league deal likely awaits this winter.
C Stephen Vogt: One-year, $3 million
After signing a minor-league deal last offseason and starting the season at Triple-A when Erik Kratz claimed the backup catcher job, Vogt eventually became a solid contributor at the MLB level, hitting .263/.314/.490 with 10 home runs in 280 plate appearances.
The 34-year-old should be able to secure an MLB deal this time around, but his age will likely limit him to a one-year deal.
Veterans Robinson Chirinos (1/$5.75M), Jonathan Lucroy (1/$3.35M), Martin Maldonado (1/$2.5M), Brian McCann (1/$2M) and Matt Wieters (1/$1.5M) all signed one-year MLB deals last winter, and Vogt should fall somewhere in that same range.
RP Tony Waston: One-year, $3 million, plus 2021 mutual option
Last offseason saw several passable veteran lefties sign similar deals. Tony Sipp, Oliver Perez, Jake Diekman and Aaron Loup all agreed to one-year pacts that included a mutual or club option for a second year
Watson, 34, had a down year in 2019 with a 4.17 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 60 appearances. With a long track record of late-inning success, including 25 holds this past season, he should still generate plenty of interest. His payday will be a modest one, though.
RP Will Smith: Four years, $56 million
Smith put together a dominant first half (23/23 SV, 1.98 ERA, 0.80 WHIP) that earned him a trip to the All-Star Game, but looked far more human in the second half (11/15 SV, 3.72 ERA, 1.31 WHIP).
Despite that regression, a strong case can still be made that he’s the best reliever on the market this winter after he saved 34 games and racked up an impressive 13.2 K/9 in 63 appearances.
The three-year, $39 million deal that Zack Britton signed last offseason seems like a reasonable comparison. However, a shortage of viable late-inning options might be enough to get the 30-year-old Smith an extra year and a slightly higher average annual value (AAV).
SP Madison Bumgarner: Four years, $80 million, plus a 2024 club option
Age and workload will almost certainly keep Bumgarner from eclipsing the six-year, $140 million deal that Patrick Corbin signed as the top starting pitcher on the market last offseason, both in terms of years and AAV.
However, he should have no problem topping the $17 million AAV that J.A. Happ (Yankees) and Nathan Eovaldi (Red Sox) squeezed out of a pair of AL East rivals.
At $20 million per year, Bumgarner would still be picking up a significant raise over the $12 million he made in 2018 and 2019, and a four-year deal would take him through his age-33 season.
The four-year prediction might be conservative, but teams have simply not been as willing to offer up significant years to non-elite starters of late. While Bumgarner is still an absolute horse, he’s no longer in that upper-echelon of pitchers.
Will this contract predictions prove correct? Will the San Francisco Giants push to re-sign any of these players? We shall see.