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How MLB lockout will impact Giants' plans this offseason

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For two years, Farhan Zaidi, Scott Harris, Gabe Kapler and the rest of the Giants' front office and coaching staff have gained a reputation for being tireless. There is no roster move that is too small, no player who is incapable of reaching new heights, no concept that is unworthy of being discussed for hours and hours on Zoom. 

Now, possibly for more than two months, that group is being put on ice. 

Major League Baseball announced a lockout on Wednesday night, bringing the sport to a halt after one of the most exciting free agency stretches it had ever seen. The expectation around the game is that this will last at least until the end of January, when the looming start of spring training might lead to some urgency. 

"Look, it's not a good thing for the sport. It's not something that we undertake lightly," commissioner Rob Manfred said on Thursday morning during a press conference. "We understand it's bad for our business. We took it out of a desire to drive the process forward to an agreement now.

There is nothing good about a lockout, even if it ultimately forces two very different groups to find common ground in time for spring training. The Giants now enter a state of uncertainty after their most exciting season in years, and this won't be an easy time for their ticket sales and sponsorship staffs. But from a roster-building standpoint, they could find a silver lining once this is all over.

 

The market was frantic over the past week but roster moves are now on hold until further notice, and there are still dozens upon dozens of quality players available. The expectation is that there will be a mad scramble for players to sign once a new CBA is put in place, and there isn't a front office better prepared for that possibility than the Giants. 

They have deep pockets, although thus far they have not really dug into them. Three pitchers have signed multi-year deals, adding $33.5 million to the 2022 payroll, but the Giants still have the ability to add significant money whenever free agency resumes. It doesn't seem a coincidence that the Dodgers have handled the last month in a similar way. Both big-market teams know they can find bargains whenever the lockout ends. 

The Giants also know that whatever is decided over the next couple of months, they're unlikely to be too impacted by the new rules. If a salary floor is put in place, they won't be anywhere near it. If the CBT threshold is changed and teams are punished for distancing themselves, it will be the Dodgers and New York Mets who most have to worry, not the Giants, who are closer to the middle of the pack right now in terms of spending. 

The Giants also have more flexibility than any other big-market team. They have very little money committed to the 2023 roster and just one player -- Anthony DeSclafani -- locked in for 2024, so they should be able to be nimble late in free agency, and that's something they've done with great success the last two years. 

In February of 2020, Wilmer Flores was signed to a two-year deal that's proven to be a steal. Last February, the Giants added Tommy La Stella and Jake McGee. Jose Alvarez -- one of the better lefty relievers in the NL last year -- wasn't signed until March. 

They also made the decision to sign Aaron Sanchez in February, which didn't work out but is an example of the type of gamble they can take when the lockout ends. There will be plenty of veteran starters looking for a home, and nobody right now offers a better opportunity than the Giants if you're a starter who wants to sign a one-year deal and then get back on the market. 

The Giants should be able to add plenty of talent once the lockout ends, and they need to. For all the work they did over the last week, they're still looking at entering the next season without two of their most valuable players: Buster Posey and Kevin Gausman. 

For their current players, there is a big downside to all of this. Players will not be able to work out at team facilities during the lockout, which will impact guys like Brandon Crawford and Evan Longoria who live near the spring training facility in Scottsdale and do their offseason work there. 

 

Players also cannot rehab with team employees during the lockout, but the Giants are actually much better off here than most. La Stella is working his way back from Achilles surgery, but the Giants do not have many guys at any level coming back from major procedures or Tommy John surgery. 

The biggest issue might come in another area the Giants have excelled at under Kapler and his staff. Their coaches have helped veterans like Crawford and young players like Logan Webb make huge adjustments in the offseason, and that won't be possible this year. 

RELATED: Alex Cobb explains what drew him to Giants

Alex Cobb will be one of the players looking to make adjustments before next season, and as he was introduced to reporters on Zoom on Wednesday, Cobb made note of the fact that as soon as he got off the call he would join one with Giants coaches. The plan was to start going over the changes Cobb could make for 2022. 

"We'll be able to start to ease on into the nuts and bolts of how everything works and the little tweaks here and there that they can introduce to me that might help me have more success on the field," Cobb said. "I look forward to having those conversations with them."

Hopefully that call lasted a few hours, because it could now be months before the Giants are allowed to go back to business as usual. 

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