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What A SF Giants Offseason Could Look Like With A $200m Payroll

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 26: San Francisco Giants President of Baseball Operations, Farhan Zaidi, talks on the phone before the postponement of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Oracle Park on August 26, 2020 in San Francisco, California.(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 26: San Francisco Giants President of Baseball Operations, Farhan Zaidi, talks on the phone before the postponement of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Oracle Park on August 26, 2020 in San Francisco, California.(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
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SF Giants, Liam Hendriks
Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Liam Hendriks (16) throws a pitch during the seventh inning against the Seattle Mariners at Oakland Coliseum. (Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports)

SF Giants Mock $200m 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: $196,020,000

Instead of signing starters like Paxton or Richards, I would prioritize trying to get a deal done for Rays ace Blake Snell or Pirates righty 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 and I know most fans will be clamoring for him to be included instead of Ozuna and Richard, but there are too many red flags for me. Besides, 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. If Gerrit Cole were on the market, it would be a no-brainer, but Bauer has a track-record more similar to Jeff Samardzija or Johnny Cueto when they were free agents than Cole.

Paxton is a high-risk, high-reward arm that comes with an extensive injury history, but has an ace’s ceiling when healthy. Limited him to five starts in 2020, 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 an injury history on 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. There’s enough upside to lead me to take the risk.

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. Hendriks is 31-years old, but also will not require a massive financial commitment. A three-year, $30 million deal is something that a strong setup option could get in a normal offseason. I’d be out if the market were in the four or five-year range, but this type of deal would be too good to pass up.

Look at it this way, would you rather have Bauer or Ozuna, Paxton, and Hendriks? Bauer is projected to receive a four-year $128 million contract. That’s equivalent to the total guarantees handed out to Ozuna, Hendriks, Paxton, and Richards. If you look purely at average annual value, it’s still equivalent to Ozuna, Hendriks, and 50% of Richards’ salary. That’s a lot of good players to pass on for one pitcher who’s free-agent case rests heavily on a 60-game season.

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