The Giants will need to put controversy aside after hiring manager Gabe Kapler, but with him and general manager Scott Harris on board, President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi has the personnel in place to guide San Francisco through their rebuild. Still, this is a fanbase that demands winning, so Zaidi likely will open to doing literally anything this offseason, with a focus on getting younger.
Expected Direction: Slowly Replace The Older Core Players With Young Talent
Giants Sign SP Kevin Gausman
Contract Details: One Year, $9 Million
In need of starting pitching depth, the Giants have added starting pitcher Kevin Gausman, signing him to a one-year contract worth $9 million. After being acquired by the Braves at the 2018 trade deadline, expectations were high for the 28-year-old, but instead, he fell flat. In 80 innings as a starter for Atlanta last season, he posted a putrid 6.19 ERA, and although his 4.49 xFIP wasn’t terrible, it certainly wasn’t where he wanted it to be. However, after being placed on waivers and claimed by the Reds, he was fabulous as a reliever, posting an 11.7 K/9 and 2.49 xFIP; as a two-pitch pitcher, a spot in the bullpen may be where he can best be utilized. However, he’ll be a starting pitcher in San Francisco, which is a great landing spot for him. Based on the ballparks he’s pitched in (Baltimore, Atlanta, Cincinnati), it should come to no one’s surprise that he’s had some rough home run luck in the past, but that should change in the very pitcher-friendly Oracle park. Plus, if he can just be a 2 WAR pitcher, as his projections indicate he’ll be, he’ll be receiving market value ($5 million/WAR), so this isn’t the prototypical low floor-high ceiling move; there isn’t really a worst-case scenario, as if he faulters as a starter, he can perhaps be marketed as a reliever at the trade deadline, similar to Drew Pomeranz this past season.
Giants Acquire INFs Will Wilson and Zack Cozart
Full Trade: Giants Acquire INFs Will Wilson and Zack Cozart From The Angels In Exchange For LHP Garrett Williams
In a very thrifty move, the Giants have acquired infielders Will Wilson and Zack Cozart from the Angels, in exchange for pitching prospect Garrett Williams. In essence, San Francisco is buying an impact prospect, as they’ll take on Cozart’s $12.167 million salary in order to land Wilson. That’s very reasonable, as the 21-year-old was the 15th overall pick out of NC State in last year’s draft, and has the offensive upside and versatility that San Francisco needed; this may be a lofty comparison, but Brian Dozier is a resemblance that has been thrown around. As for the 34-year-old Cozart, it’s unlikely the Giants will get much from him, as due in part to various injuries, he’s posted a -0.6 WAR in the past two seasons. However, if he can be healthy, he’s been a mid 1 WAR player in the past (with one outlier 5 WAR season), so perhaps he can provide some depth. Nevertheless, this deal is all about obtaining Wilson, who may not be the highest-upside prospect in the world, but has a major league future, and if President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi sees something more from him (he stated that he almost took him with the 10th pick in last year’s draft), this is a no-brainer move.
Giants Sign SP Drew Smyly
Contract Details: One Year, $4 Million ($3 Million Incentives As a Starter, $1 Million Incentives As a Reliever)
The Giants have been quiet so far this offseason, but it’s clear that they’ve been focused on adding some starting pitchers on one-year deals. This time, they’ll take a flyer on Drew Smyly, whom the team gave a $4 million guarantee to on a contract in which he can earn more in incentives based on games started or games appeared in. Smyly, 30, was once a very talented young commodity, but after undergoing Tommy John surgery, missed both the 2017 and 2018 season. Upon returning in 2019, he struggled mightily with the Rangers, but after being cut loose and later signed by the Phillies, he found his stride- in 62.2 innings pitched, he posted a 4.26 xFIP and 3.2 K-BB ratio. That’s about in line with the type of pitcher he was prior to the surgery, and that should be a reasonable expectation for the Giants this season. He doesn’t have as much upside as a pitcher like Alex Wood or Jimmy Nelson would have had, but it’s a decent signing that at least gives them some stability in a rather suspect rotation.
Giants Sign INF Wilmer Flores
Contract Details: Two Years, $6 Million (Club Option 2022)
In the first multi-year contract given out by Farhan Zaidi is his tenure as the President of Baseball Operations of the Giants, the team has agreed to a multi-year contract with Wilmer Flores. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is expected to be worth “$6 million-plus” with a club option for a third season. Flores, 28, has long been a decent utility player, but after signing a one-year deal with Arizona, he had arguably the best season of his career. Despite players in just 89 games with just 285 plate appearances due to a fractured foot, he was still able to post a 1.1 WAR, while his 120 was a career-high. Notably, he continued to crush lefties, as he had a 151 wrc+ versus southpaws, making him a very effective platoon player with the ability to play infield position at a passable level. Sure, his expected statistics forecast him to regress in 2019, as his .332 BABIP was higher than normal, but for around $3 million per season, he’ll provide value as long as he can be a one-win player. The Giants were in need of someone who could hit lefties to complement first baseman Brandon Belt, shortstop Brandon Crawford, and a revolving door at second base, and Flores seems like a decent acquisition.
Giants Sign OF Hunter Pence
Contract Details: One Year, $3 Million (w/$2.5 Million Incentives)
In a tremendous feel-good story, the Giants have brought back a familiar face- they’ve signed outfielder Hunter Pence to a one-year, $3 million contract with another $2.5 million in incentives. After a miserable 2018 season in which he posted a 60 wrc+ and -0.8 WAR, the 36-year-old’s career appeared to be over. However, he remade his swing in the offseason, and by doing so, probably saved his career. Though he only played in 83 games due to multiple injuries, he still hit to the tune of a 128 wrc+, and made the All-Star team as the starting designated hitter. Now, as he dealt with injuries, he did regress in the second half (106 wrc+), and his weighted-on-base average of .377 probably won’t be sustained (.358 xwOBA). At the same time, he doubled his launch angle (10.1 degrees) and walk rate (8.2%), while also hitting the ball significantly harder (42.6%). The Giants had been looking for a platoon partner in left field with left-handed slugger Alex Dickerson, and with a 155 wrc+ versus lefties last season, Pence should fill that role tremendously. Plus, in what is going to be a rough transitioning year for the team, having such a popular player on the team also makes sense to ease the pain. There’s some risk that Pence was a one-year wonder, and age could catch back up to him, but his value for San Francisco goes beyond his production, and from a baseball perspective, he’s also a strong on-field fit. There’s no such thing as a bad one-year deal, after all.
*Will Be Updated With Every Move The Giants Make