The SF Giants were linked to numerous big-ticket free agents during this offseason's free-agent frenzy. Whom in next winter's class will - or should - they be linked to?
The SF Giants spent big this offseason. Could they do it again next offseason?
As of this writing, the SF Giants have inked P Sean Manaea (2 years, 25M), P Ross Stripling (2 years, 25M), OF Mitch Haniger (3 years, 43M), and made their biggest splash in SS Carlos Correa (13 years, 350M). Unless something unforeseen happens, and more or less some spending to round off the roster, this will likely be the bulk of their spending for this winter. With that being said, it is never too early to look ahead to how San Francisco could plan to spend in next winter's free agent class.
A quick thought. If Max Scherzer decides to opt out of the final year of the initial three-year pact he signed with the Mets and forgo the $43M he is owed in 2024, then he would be an intriguing short-term prospect for any contending team. Scherzer (39 in 2024) will be a year younger than Justin Verlander (40) was this offseason when he signed a 2-year contract worth $43.3M annually with the Metropolitans. According to Jon Heyman, in November of 2021, the Giants were one of the five finalists for Scherzer, who finished 2022 with 173 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.29. Would San Francisco be willing to dish out a short-term high-AAV contract for the three-time Cy Young winner again two offseasons later?
Other than Scherzer, there were four big-name players I think the Giants should seriously consider if they want to pay a premium, much like they did with Correa. I wrote down Javier Baez's name, but he likely would not be on the Giant's radar given his high strikeout rate alone. A poor showing in 2021, and what he could command in free agency if he opts out of the remaining 4 years, 98M on his contract with Detroit after 2023 does not help him for the Giants sake, either.
Now for the real four. It goes without saying that all of these players command huge contracts. It might not be possible for the Giants to sign even two of them, but it is fun spending someone else's money, after all.
The youngest, and most likely most expensive, of the four comes via the American League East.Rafael Devers will be 27 once 2024 Opening Day rolls around and could slide into the third baseman role and join Correa on the left side of the Giants infield for many, many years to come. Excluding his 58-game rookie year, and 2020, Devers has hit 118 home runs and driven in nearly 400 runs in his four full seasons with the Red Sox. Given Boston's recent history of letting franchise players go, it is no guarantee that they will sign Devers long-term.
Next, sticking with the east, but this time in the National League. Aaron Nola, who is coming off of a trip to the World Series with Philadelphia, will be 31 once 2024 Opening Day rolls around. One would have to assume a contract for Nola, who has a career ERA of 3.60 thru his first eight seasons with the Phillies, would be around the same length and monetary value (if not more) than the one Carlos Rodon recently inked with the Yankees (six years, $162 million). A one-two punch of Logan Webb and Nola would be a formidable foe for anyone they face, especially in the NL West, where pitching is desperately needed to combat the offenses of mostly the Dodgers and Padres for years to come.
Our third super-duper star candidate currently resides in the NL West and is a member of the San Diego Padres. Manny Machado, as already reported, will almost certainly opt out of the remaining 5 years, $150M on his contract with the Padres barring something unforeseen happening in 2023 (or he has a change of heart and shows the same type of loyalty that Nolan Arenado had when he opted-in to the remainder of his contract with the Cardinals this offseason). If Machado were to sign with the Giants, he and Correa, given their history of stellar defense, and even more powerful offensive production, would construct one of the greatest shortstop-third base tandems maybe the sport has ever seen. Since 2015, Machado has slugged over 30 home runs in all but one season (2021, 28). This does not include the COVID season where he hit 16 and finished third in MVP voting. This past season, where Machado finished second in the MVP voting behind Arenado, he hit 32 home runs, drove in 102, and slashed .298/.366/.531 while carrying San Diego into the postseason.
Finally, there's not much to say about our last mega-star player who will be a free agent after next season. He's on the upper pantheon of greatness already, and will still only be 29 years old in 2024. Of course, I am referring to Shohei Ohtani. The free agent hunt for Ohtani will probably be like one we have never seen. Who knows what the asking price will be-300, 400, or even 500 million? What is there to say about Ohtani that is not already known? The cover athlete of the most recent MLB The Show game would be a two-time MVP at the age of 28 If Aaron Judge didn't have a once-in-a-generation type of season himself. Ohtani is one of the most marketable players in the sport overall, if the Giants were able to convince him to bring his many talents to San Francisco, it would change the trajectory of the franchise even more.