The Giants could be one of the most aggressive teams this off season, given their limited payroll obligations and many areas of need. The club’s head of baseball operations, Farhan Al-Zaidi recently talked about How “everything is on the table” this winter, “including getting out and eventually seeking out the free agent market.” Bob Nightingale from USA TODAY stating that they “love” to go after one of the best selected free agents if they don’t sign Aaron Judge.
Judge will undoubtedly be the biggest free agent on the market, based on his career track record and amazing platforming season. He actually made 55 home runs in the year and produced an extensive line of .307/ .410/ .679 hits. This adds up to an incredible 202 wRC+, indicating that Judge was somehow 102% better than the league batting average. When combined with solid defense on the field and 16 stolen bases, he’s already had a 9.3 over-substitution win of the season in the FanGraphs rating and 8.7 in the baseball reference.
Given that Judge grew up in the Bay Area, he has often been speculatively associated with the Giants, although it takes a huge commitment on the part of the team to pay off. Back in April, Judge and the Yankees failed to reach agreement on an extension, reportedly rejecting a seven-year deal worth $213.5 million. The judge was apparently looking for $36 million over nine or ten years, with a range of $324 to $360 million. Now that Judge has had his best season yet and will soon be able to deliver offers from 29 other teams, it is entirely possible that he will now try to do better than that.
The Giants have not run anywhere near that level since Al-Zaidi took over in November 2018, having not been awarded a contract for more than three years in his tenure. However, this means that the team ledger is fairly clear, which gives the club the opportunity to change course. There is only about $89 million earmarked for next year’s team, at an estimate Jason Martinez at Roster Resource. This does not include increases for players eligible to referee such as Mike Jastrzemsky or Logan Webbut includes $22.5 million for Carlos Rodon, who will almost certainly quit and go back to the free agency. Just over $20 million has been set aside by 2024 and nothing for 2025 and beyond. Given that they have an opening day payroll of $155 million this year, per Crib Baseball ContractsWith a price tag of $200 million in 2018, there’s room for a big influx if they want to.
If the club can’t successfully bring Judge back to the neighborhood, it looks like pursuing a short pit stop would be another option they would consider. Of course, the club already has a short stopping point Brandon Crawford, who has been a mainstay there for more than a decade, having made his debut in 2011. Last year was a discovery for Crawford, as he suddenly delivered the best campaign of his career after several tough seasons. It hit .298/.373/.522 in 2021, producing a 138 wRC+ that was 25 points better than his previous career high. When combined with his excellent defensive work, he racked up 6.3 wins over replacement, in FanGraphs estimation, easily surpassing his previous high of 4.4.
In the midst of this stellar show, the Giants and Crawford agreed to a two-year, $32 million extension, although the first season was a disappointment. Crawford has had a knee injury for most of the year, having had a knee injury because of it. When healthy enough to take the field, he wasn’t able to produce anywhere near his production in 2021. He hit .226/.305/.346 in the season for a WRC+85, with his defensive numbers also not as impressive as the year Past.
Crawford has one year left on that extension, but he will turn 36 in January. Given his age, knee issues and under-performance, the Giants seem ready to consider a bold move to strengthen their field. With the field of available short stops going to be strong again this year, it might be wise to hit early, even if it means Crawford and another short on the roster for one season. Tria Turner And the Dansby Swanson Both are on the cusp of free agency, with Carlos Correa And the Xander Bogarts Both expected to withdraw from their contracts and join them.
The Giants have also been significantly hampered by their defense this year, saving 30 points above average and -33 points defensive, both of which put them 28th in the major. The Ultimate Zone Rating gives them -28.6, which is 29. Base 2 was a particularly tough zone, with the team’s cornerstone group numbers coming in at -5 OAA (25), -15 DRS (29) and -2.1 UZR (21). Having a quality defender at second base, either Crawford or an outside addition, could be a good way for the club to take a step forward next year, especially with Ban extreme defensive transformations It will start next season.
Thiro Estrada And the Wilmer Flores They have taken the bulk of their playing time at second base this season, although each is capable of playing other positions and could be better utilized away from second place. Estrada -10 has the DRS in second and Flores a -6 this year, both putting up better numbers in the other positions they’ve played. Estrada has yet to reach arbitration and Flores avoids free agency after agreeing to two years extensionI mentioned earlier today.
Each Turner/Swanson/Correa/Bogaerts combo will likely get a contract less than the Judge, although that doesn’t mean they’ll be cheap. All four of them are under 30 years old, with Xander exceeding that limit on October 1. This means that each of them will most likely be looking for long contracts. In this last season, Cory Seeger I got ten years, Marcus Simin I got seven with Trevor’s story And the Javier Baez every six. Shaurya ended up settling on a three-year deal, despite a high average annual value of $35.1 million and canceling the subscription after each season. Like any judge contract, the giants will likely have to break the pattern of holding short positions in order to make an impact in the short-term market. If they lose all the options of the upper tier, there is a huge drop in the next level, which will be occupied by players like Jose Iglesias And the Elvis Andrews.
Finally, winter should be great for the Giants and their fans. The club kept its books mostly clear for years and kept busy with the exemption corps, taking up whatever role he could find. He left this team in a position with solid depth throughout the roster but lacking in really top players. 10 different players in the positions have produced at least 0.5 fWAR for the Giants in the season but no higher than 2.3 so far. Perhaps the conditions are right for them to raise the bar in the coming months.