Three lessons the Giants can learn from their past MLB offseasons


Three lessons the Giants can learn from their past MLB offseasons

SAN FRANCISCO — At some point in the next couple of weeks, the Giants will introduce a new head of baseball operations. He or she will take over an organization that has more money committed over the next half-decade than any team in baseball, which can be viewed two ways. 

On one hand, this organization has proven consistently that it is willing to spend. On the other hand, the Giants have not always spent wisely. 

They have an aging roster with eight players scheduled to make at least $12 million in 2019. They already have $124 million committed to the 2020 team and nearly $100 million committed to the 2021 team. The majority of that money was given to homegrown talent, but the front office also has spent heavily on veteran free agents.

The Giants mostly took a few months off from spending last winter, eager to dip under the tax line. But they’re expected to once again be in on big-ticket items this offseason, and that hasn’t really worked out for them in recent years.

What lessons can be learned from previous offseasons? Three stand out … 

Go younger

This is more of a call to make trades or even rebuild, but if the Giants are going to spend on free agents, they should cross a few names off right away for age-related reasons. The majority of the current payroll is made up of players who are 31, 32, 33, etc., which is why Bryce Harper is so intriguing, beyond just his talent.

Harper turned 26 in October, and if the Giants somehow won that lottery, he would be their youngest starter other than Steven Duggar. The Giants have given too many contracts to players exiting their peak years. Free agency, by nature, rewards older players, but when possible the Giants should try to shave a couple years off.

For instance, Marwin Gonzalez and DJ LeMahieu are both 30, which makes them a tad safer than their competition at their respective positions. This leads to the next lesson … 

Be careful with the medicals

This is tricky because there’s only so much you can do to try and figure out if a player will stay healthy. But the Giants have been burned a few times now.

There were whispers about Johnny Cueto’s elbow when he was with the Royals. Mark Melancon’s forearm was bothering him for years before he signed his big deal. Austin Jackson was no longer an everyday player, but the Giants signed him to patrol center field and just about right away in spring training, Jackson started talking about how his legs weren’t under him.

Every player has an injury history of some sort, but the Giants have too many holes to fill to spend their resources on anyone who has a checkered history. 

Don’t force it

There’s another common thread that runs through a lot of recent offseasons. Even people within the organization will admit this hasn’t been a very creative front office, and in recent years the Giants have mostly zeroed in on one group at a time.

After 2015, Bruce Bochy asked for innings-eaters and $220 million was spent on Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. After the 2016 meltdown, the front office was hellbent on getting a marquee closer.

The Denard Span and Jackson deals were part of a continued effort to find a fix in center field by plugging in veterans. The Giants have glaring holes in their outfield, but this roster isn’t nearly strong enough to just focus on one area.

Maybe the money should be spent on two starters and a left fielder can be added via trade? Maybe a couple of dominant relievers will come cheaper than expected and the bullpen can become the team’s strength?

In the past, the front office would have gone into this offseason with a clear goal of adding two veteran outfielders. That’s how they’ve ended up overspending. It’s time to be creative.

MLB rumors: Giants 'trying hard' for Bryce Harper, but not optimistic

MLB rumors: Giants 'trying hard' for Bryce Harper, but not optimistic

Well, you can't say the Giants aren't trying.

As the chase for superstar Bryce Harper has reached the "refreshing Twitter every few minutes" stage, FanCred's Jon Heyman reports that the Giants are indeed trying hard to bring Bryce to the Bay.

While Heyman notes that San Francisco is not necessarily optimistic, the Giants' ability to be willing to go for a long-term deal shows how serious president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi and CEO Larry Baer are in their chase to acquire the 26-year-old superstar.

But no matter how much effort they put in, the decision is ultimately Harper's call.

Harper is likely looking for a contract large than Manny Machado's 10-year, $300 million reported agreement with the Padres. Harper and agent Scott Boras have been steadfast in breaking the bank with this contract, and it appears even surpassing the $300 million barrier isn't necessarily enough to get Harper to put pen to paper.

Imagine turning down multiple offers over $300 million ... must be nice, eh?

[RELATED: Giants react to Manny Machado going to Padres]

But while the Giants are still clearly in the mix for Harper's services, Heyman's note that the team is not "overly optimistic" shows that this all might be another case where the Giants come up short in their bid to acquire a top-flight player (see: Giancarlo Stanton, Shohei Ohtani, Zack Greinke, Jon Lester). 

But hey -- you can't say they're not trying. That's worth something, right?

Odds for next Giants manager to replace Bruce Bochy brings wild names

Odds for next Giants manager to replace Bruce Bochy brings wild names

The 2020 Giants will look a lot different than we're used to. Sure, you can expect Buster Posey and some other familiar names to still be on the field, but the biggest change will be who's leading the team. 

Bruce Bochy is hanging up his roster card after the 2019 season. He is retiring after 13 years managing the Giants, plus 12 more with the Padres before his tenure in San Francisco. 

So, who is next in line to manage the Giants? Sportsbook BetDSI has released the first round of odds, and their list is quite interesting -- in both a realistic sense and outrageously comical.

The favorite 

Right away, this one is ... well, bad. 

Matt Williams is a former first-round pick of the Giants, and he lived up to the hype. Over 10 years in San Francisco, Williams was a four-time All-Star, won three Gold Glove awards at third base and three Silver Sluggers. As a manager, however, his resume is less impressive. 

Looking purely at his record, Williams' isn't one to scoff at. In two seasons as the Nationals' manager, he went 179-145 and was named the 2014 National League Manager of the Year. But when it mattered most, Bruce Bochy's Giants ran circles around Williams and the Nats in the 2014 NL Division Series. 

And when Washington fell apart in the second half of the 2015 season, Williams completely lost control of the clubhouse. One player even called playing under Williams a "terrible environment" when things weren't going right.

Williams is in his second season as the A's third base coach. 

Crossing the Bay 

Speaking of the A's, the name right under Williams is one the Giants should take a long look at. 

Eric Chavez, who won six Gold Gloves as a standout third baseman for the A's, is a young manager in waiting. It appeared he was next in line for the Angels when the franchise named him their Triple-A manager in August of last season, but the team went with Brad Ausmus to replace Mike Scioscia.

Chavez, 41, currently serves as a special assistant to Angels general manager Billy Epler, but he could make his way down to the field soon. As in as soon as 2020. He has experience as a player, coach and the front office at his young age, making him an intriguing option for any franchise looking for a new face to lead their big league club. 

Familiar faces

Matt Williams isn't the only name on this list that has Giants connections. Far from it actually. 

Here are all the other names BetDSI includes that have Giants ties as either a player, coach or broadcaster: Mike Matheny, Omar Vizquel, Ron Wotus, Carlos Beltran, Dusty Baker, Will Clark, Barry Bonds, Chili Davis, Randy Johnson, Buster Posey, Mike Krukow, Duane Kuiper, and Jon Miller.

The reality is, probably none of those names -- the realistic or comical -- will be the Giants' next manager. We'll get to that later.

Kruk & Kuip

The year is 2020. You're drinking the world's most rrrrrrrrreeeeeefreshing beer, Kruk and Kuip are co-managers, and they're mic'd up. That's entertainment. You're welcome.

Buster Posey, Giants "ploach" 

The last full-time MLB player-manager was Pete Rose. And ... we know how that turned out. Posey has put together a Hall of Fame career, and we'd rather see him in Cooperstown than banned from baseball. 

But, perhaps Posey could be a manager one day as he constantly displays his leadership. Plus, he's already the eyes of the field behind the plate, no matter how bad you want him at first base instead of catcher. The accolades are already there, too -- Rookie of the Year, MVP, six-time All-Star, and three-time World Series champion ... just to name a few. 

The reality

Back to reality. The Giants could go in-house with options like Wotus or Hensley Meulens. Both are worthy candidates who have put in their dues. But, this is a new regime as we've seen all offseason. 

[RELATED: Brian Sabean remembers how Giants brought Bruce Bochy to San Francisco]

Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi is sure to have names in mind. There are tons of names Zaidi will consider that haven't even been mentioned here, too.

For now though, let's soak in one last season of Bochy Ball.