What A SF Giants Offseason Could Look Like With A $140m Payroll

Jose Quintana is one of the many lefthanded starting pitchers that the SF Giants could target this offseason. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jose Quintana is one of the many lefthanded starting pitchers that the SF Giants could target this offseason. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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SF Giants, Michael Wacha
New York Mets starting pitcher Michael Wacha (45) had many similarities to SF Giants starting pitcher Kevin Gausman in 2020. (Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports) /

SF Giants Mock $140m Payroll Offseason: Big Acquisition(s)

Jose Quintana: 2-year, $18 million
Michael Wacha: 1-year, $2.5 million
Ehire Adrianza: 1-year, $800,000
Total Payroll: $134,200,000

In these simulations, estimated contracts for top free agents, like Jose Quintana, are coming from MLB Trade Rumors’ top-50 free agent predictions.

Instead of signing someone like Quintana, I would prioritize trying to get a deal done for Rays lefty Blake Snell or Pirates ace Joe Musgrove. However, predicting trade packages can enable a level of favorable aggressiveness that can feel like cheating in these simulations. Assuming the Giants lost out in any trade sweepstakes for a top starter, Quintana seems like the most bang for the buck.

Quintana underwent surgery on his left thumb before the season and then was placed back on the injured list with a left lat injury. In the end, he was limited to just ten innings across four appearances. He was decently effective in his small-sample of play, and the velocity and movement on his pitches were in-line with his previous performances.

Since debuting with the Chicago White Sox in 2013, Quintana has been one of the most consistent mid-rotation starters in baseball. Before this year, he’d never completed fewer than 171 innings in a full season. However, in 2019, he did record the highest ERA (4.68) of his career. Set to turn 32-years old in January, some front-offices might be skittish.

I’m pretty high on Quintana’s prospects. A deeper look at his peripherals in 2019 suggests Quintana was performing like the solid starter he’s always been. His strikeout minus walk rate was identical to his career mark (14.2%) and translated to a 3.80 FIP.

There’s never a sure thing on the free-agent starting pitching market. Things only get dicier when you deviate from the top of most lists. Still, in this scenario, the Giants could do a lot worse than Quintana. The fact is, in his nearly decade long career, he’s never had a season where he looked like a bad starting pitcher.

With so little payroll space remaining in this scenario (remember that payroll does not include the minimum salary contracts that will fill out the 26-man roster), the Giants would probably be limited to struggling veterans like Jon Lester, reclamation projects like Michael Wacha, or maybe Mike Leake to fill out the rotation. None are guarantees, but Wacha easily has the most upside. In fact, there are several similarities between Wacha in 2020 and Kevin Gausman in 2019.

Lastly, with Daniel Robertson non-tendered, there is no one on the roster outside Crawford and Mauricio Dubón that the team could reasonably count on to handle shortstop. Since this budget will not enable them to bring in a strong center fielder, Dubón will probably have to function there in an everyday capacity. If he does, they need a backup shortstop.

Ehire Adrianza may have been a bit of a letdown in his first stint in San Francisco, but since joining the Minnesota Twins in 2017, he has posted a playable .253/.317/.377 triple-slash while maintaining the elite defensive acumen scout’s raved about since he was a prospect in the Giants system. Per Baseball Savant, Adrianza ranked in the 89th percentile by Outs Above Average last season. Furthermore, Adrianza, a switch-hitter, has been more productive against left-handed pitchers than righties, a useful split given starting Crawford’s struggles against southpaws.