SAN FRANCISCO — There are years when you look at the Giants’ arbitration list and you can easily point to a few salaries that can be shed. This isn’t one of those years.
The Giants have six arbitration-eligible players this offseason and the list includes their starting second baseman (Joe Panik) and four pitchers who should make up the chunk of their bullpen (Sam Dyson, Hunter Strickland, Will Smith and Cory Gearrin). The sixth member of the group is Tim Federowicz, and while he would make sense if Nick Hundley doesn’t return, the Giants can probably punt their backup catcher decision down the road a bit.
Assuming they tender contracts to the first five, the Giants will be on the hook for about another $14 million next year. MLB Trade Rumors puts out arbitration projections each year that have proven to be pretty close to accurate. Here are their numbers for this year’s arbitration eligible Giants:
Dyson: $4.6 million
Panik $3.5 million
Smith: $2.5 million
Strickland: $1.7 million
Gearrin: $1.6 million
Federowicz: $1.3 million
If you take Federowicz out of the mix, that’s $13.9 million for five members of next year’s team. The Giants already have about $166 million committed for 11 players when you pick up the Madison Bumgarner and Matt Moore options and assume Johnny Cueto and Pablo Sandoval are back, so, basically, you can see why management has talked about adding via trades instead of free agency.
Pre-arb players like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach, as well as some spread-out contracts, ease the tax burden a bit, but the Giants are still inching up on the Competitive Balance Tax ($197 million in 2018) for the fourth consecutive year. The 50 percent tax rate they paid last season is a big reason why guys like J.D. Martinez were never an option in left field, and why you can probably cross him off your wish list this year, too. During an interview that aired on this week’s Giants Insider Podcast, team president and CEO Larry Baer addressed the CBT concerns.
“That (tax) is something that’s punitive financially but it’s also punitive from a player acquisition standpoint, because if you’re in the CBT you then have penalties sprinkled through the collective bargaining agreement that affects the draft choice compensation, affects the pool of dollars you can use to sign international players and a couple of other areas,” he said. “It hurts you from a player acquisition and player development standpoint, so you have to be mindful about that, but if there’s an opportunity we’re not going to let the CBT stand in the way.”
Before this season, team officials talked about the desire to dip under the tax for a year — either this offseason or next — and reset those penalties. They obviously never thought the season would go the way it did and they would be sitting here in October with so many holes to fill, but here we are. For more from that interview with Baer, you can download the Giants Insider Podcast here.