What A SF Giants Offseason Could Look Like With A $160m Payroll

New York Yankees starting pitcher James Paxton (65) pitches against the Houston Astros during the fifth inning of game five of the 2019 ALCS playoff baseball series at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Yankees starting pitcher James Paxton (65) pitches against the Houston Astros during the fifth inning of game five of the 2019 ALCS playoff baseball series at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports) /
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SF Giants, Kim Ha-Seong
Infielder Ha-Seong Kim #7 of Kiwoom Heroes bats in the bottom of the eighth inning during the KBO League game between Lotte Giants and Kiwoom Heroes at the Gocheok Sky Dome on July 24, 2020 in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by Han Myung-Gu/Getty Images) /

SF Giants Mock $160m Payroll Offseason: Big Acquisition(s)

Ha-Seong Kim: 5-years, $40 million
Garrett Richards: 2-years, $16 million
James Paxton: 1-year, $10 million
Trevor Rosenthal: 2-years, $14 million
Total Payroll: $156,160,000

An added $20 million in payroll flexibility could go a long way this offseason. To make all these deals fit under a $160 million threshold, the Giants would have to be willing to part with a couple of pieces, but it’s a far deeper and more competitive roster than with  $140 million payrolls.

In these simulations, estimated contracts for top free agents, like Ha-Seong Kim, are from MLB Trade Rumors’ top-50 free agent predictions.

Instead of signing two starters like James Paxton or Garrett Richards, 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, Richards and Paxton would still offer a strong duo of arms to the team’s rotation.

Kim may be my favorite free-agent on the market and could easily be the Giants shortstop of the future. At just 25-years old, the Kiwoom Heroes infielder could help the team immediately and be a part of their long-term plans. Multiple outlets have said he would rank among the top-100 prospects in baseball and if the Giants have money to spend, those are the kind of players that fit best.

While Donovan Solano was fantastic in 2020, signing Kim could enable Solano to return to a utility role where he could spell Kim at second base, or take Brandon Crawford’s spot in the lineup against a lefty, when Kim could shift to short defensively. Kim could be the primary second baseman in 2021 while preparing to replace Crawford after he enters free agency next offseason.

It’s worth noting that signing Kim would cost the Giants an additional posting fee to his Korean team, roughy 20% of his guarantees. However, that money would not count against the luxury tax threshold. It’s fair to suggest that ownership could consider that a part of payroll, but in this exercise, that is treated as a separate cost.

Paxton is a high-risk, high-reward arm that comes with an extensive injury history, but has also been a dominant pitcher when healthy. Injuries limited him to five starts in 2020 and he recorded a career-worst 6.64 ERA, however, his strikeout and walk rates were in line with his performance from 2018-2019, when he struck out 394 batters in 311 innings and posted a 3.79 ERA (3.54 FIP). Furthermore, his market will likely be limited to a one-year deal, which carries no long-term risk for the Giants.

With enough space for another solid starter, but not enough for Jose Quintana, I went with Richards. Pairing Richard and Paxton in the same rotation is putting a lot of faith in injury luck, given both of their laundry list of injured-list appearances. However, Richards looked good and healthy in his first full season back from Tommy John Surgery. He might not be the ace he once looked like, but he seems poised to be a solid mid-rotation arm. There would also be a compelling case to target Yomiuri Giants starter Tomoyuki Sugano, who lacks big-time upside but seems to have a fourth-starter floor. Given the volatility already in the rotation, that would make a lot of sense.

Instead, though, I’m completing the injury-risk trifecta in the pitching staff. There should be just enough money left to add a legitimate closer, like Trevor Rosenthal. Rosenthal underwent Tommy John surgery in 2017 and was abysmal in his return in 2019. However, this year with the Royals and Padres, he was dominant. In 23.2 innings, he struck out 38, walked 8, posted a 1.90 ERA, and a nearly as strong 2.22 FIP. He faded a bit towards the end of the season and might need to be coddled a bit more than a usual closer, but the upside is worth the limitations. Plus, the Giants pen now has the depth to accommodate that.