As they head into a brief holiday break, the Giants have gotten a lot of their shopping done. They said they wanted to add a left-handed bat and bolster the rotation and bullpen, and thus far Farhan Zaidi and Scott Harris have brought Kevin Gausman back, signed Anthony DeSclafani, added Matt Wisler and John Brebbia to the bullpen, and snagged former Padres infielder Jason Vosler.
But as Zaidi spoke with beat writers last week, you might have thought the Giants were still waiting for their opening moves.
"We're going to continue to work on some of these things, a left-handed bat, additional pitching depth both in the rotation and bullpen," he said.
Some of the holes were so obvious for the Giants after the 2020 season that they're not done building depth, even after a busy start to the offseason compared to the rest of the sport. And what has become clear with this regime is that they'll never feel they're done as a season approaches.
Hunter Pence and Billy Hamilton signed the day before FanFest last season. Trevor Cahill showed up Feb. 11. Wilmer Flores, one of the savvier additions of 2020, was also a February addition. It would seem this offseason is headed the same way, not just for the Giants but for the rest of the industry, but Zaidi said he doesn't necessarily think January will be as boring as November and December.
"I think even in the last week or two conversations have picked up quite a bit," he said.
Zaidi pointed out that last offseason, a busy one early on, could end up being the outlier when you look at the back half of the decade.
"Last offseason it seemed like the free agent market moved really quickly, and in years before that I think the pace of this offseason maybe is at least somewhat comparable," he said. "I don't have all the numbers lined up, but it's an environment of uncertainty and I think teams are moving at a certain pace and I also think there's uncertainty on the player side, as well, not knowing whether it makes sense to try to move now or wait a little longer and get a little bit more clarity on the baseball situation and the overall public health situation.
"I think these are contributing factors, but I also think last year might have been a bit of an aberration."
Barring a last-minute surprise, the industry will go into Christmas and New Years -- usually the slowest period of the year -- with just one player having signed a deal of more than two years or $20 million. The Mets gave catcher James McCann a four-year, $40.6 million deal, but the next largest guarantee right now is the $18.9 million Gausman got when he signed the qualifying offer.
Of the seven starting pitchers who have signed for more than $5 million, two will be Giants, but they're still looking for depth in a rotation that still has at least one hole. Zaidi wouldn't rule out a multi-year deal there, although the Giants have not yet been connected to any of the big fish on the market. There will be bullpen reinforcements, but Zaidi said to expect those to be more in the mold of Brebbia, who got $800,000.
The biggest move could come in adding another left-handed bat, perhaps a Tommy La Stella or Joc Pederson. Those are two free agents who fit, but Zaidi said the trade market could be just as fruitful, noting that early conversations have maybe set the stage for a deal or two before spring training.
At some point the market will pick up and the Bauers and Springers and Realmutos will go off the board, but the Giants seem unlikely to be involved there. Zaidi continues to talk of adding depth and complementary pieces to a team that was surprisingly competitive in 2020. So, the search continues for a left-handed bat for the bench, another starter or two, and right-handed relievers who can join Wisler, Reyes Moronta, Tyler Rogers and others.
"I think that'll put us in an even better position, but we've talked a lot about liking the core of the group that we're bringing back and expecting some of those guys to be able to take a step forward," he said.