SF Giants Mock $180m Payroll Offseason: Pitching Acquisition(s)
Liam Hendriks: 3-years, $30 million
Jose Quintana: 2-years, $18 million
Garrett Richards: 2-years, $16 million
James Paxton: 1-year, $10 million
Total Payroll: $176,525,000
Instead of signing starters like Paxton or Richards, I would prioritize trying to get a deal done for Rays lefty Blake Snell or Pirates ace Joe Musgrove. In fact, with this payroll, a deal for Snell and centerfielder Kevin Kiermeier could easily replace the signings of Bradley and Paxton. 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, Quintana, and Paxton would be a fantastic trio of additions.
On the pitching side, the Giants could go for Trevor Bauer even with the many red flags, but most estimates believe a team could sign the trio of Jose Quintana, Garrett Richards, and James Paxton for a similar price in annual value and less in total guarantees. The Giants do not have a deep starting rotation as is, and they would maintain more financial flexibility down the line opting for the trio of arms instead of Bauer.
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.
Richards looked good and healthy in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery but does come with long injury history in his own right. There’s a compelling case to target Yomiuri Giants starter Tomoyuki Sugano over Richards, but either one would be a strong addition. Still, Richards is a far more proven pitcher than Kevin Gausman was last offseason, and he’s estimated to receive less per year and just a two-year deal.
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 though. In 2019, when some felt he took a step back, his strikeout minus walk rate was identical to his career mark (14.2%) and helped produce a 3.80 FIP. If it were not for the 2020 injury, he would probably be looking at a four-year, $60 million deal.
Finally, the team would still have the space to add one of the top closers on the market. There’s no denying Liam Hendriks’ recent stretch of dominance. Plus, as a right-handed pitcher, he helps balance out a bullpen that already leans heavily towards southpaws.