Stephen Vogt

How Giants compare to NL West division rivals after quiet offseason


How Giants compare to NL West division rivals after quiet offseason

The last big piece came off the board early Monday morning, when Nicholas Castellanos signed a four-year deal with the Cincinnati Reds. 

Castellanos had been a target for the Giants, who now seem likely to head to Scottsdale with Kevin Gausman as their biggest free-agent acquisition of the offseason. That's not unexpected -- it's what happens when you're taking a step back, as the Giants are. 

But Farhan Zaidi has also repeatedly said that he intends to be competitive as late into the season as possible, and the Giants certainly would like to get Gabe Kapler's tenure off to a solid start after the way his hire was received locally. They have plenty of ground to make up to reach that goal, with Madison Bumgarner, Kevin Pillar and other key contributors now gone from a roster that finished 29 games behind the Dodgers and eight behind the Diamondbacks. 

The Giants won't win the NL West this year. Even they would tell you that. But how close can they stay? Where might they actually finish? Here's a rundown of what the other four teams in the West did this offseason and how they're looking as we approach that magical day when pitchers and catchers finally report ... 

The overwhelming favorite: Los Angeles Dodgers

Winners of the division for seven consecutive seasons, there's no reason to think they won't make it eight. The Dodgers lost Hyun-jin Ryu to the Blue Jays and Rich Hill to the Twins, but they keep churning out young talent, a sustainable model the Giants are trying to follow. In Julio Urias, Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin, they have more than enough young depth to fill out the rotation, and they added a couple of guys who seemed to make more sense for a team like the Giants -- Alex Wood and Jimmy Nelson. Neither is far removed from All-Star caliber pitching and if the Dodgers hit on one of those veterans their rotation again will be a strength. 

Blake Treinen was another reclamation project who made sense for the Giants, but the Dodgers gave the former A's closer $10 million to see if he can find his 2018 form. If he does, the Dodgers may finally solve their biggest problem. 

There was a strong run at Gerrit Cole and a brief flirtation with Anthony Rendon, and the Dodgers reportedly still are sniffing around about a Mookie Betts trade, but ultimately they seem to be betting that they can make their big move in July, and why wouldn't they? The lineup was already a powerhouse and top prospects Gavin Lux and Will Smith are set for a full season. This team should be easily headed for a playoff spot by the trade deadline, allowing Andrew Friedman to take another crack at adding the type of impact talent that can help the Dodgers end a drought that might have ended three years ago if the Astros had played it fair. 

The new rival: Arizona Diamondbacks

For once, the Dodgers won't be the NL West opponent that brings the most intrigue to Oracle Park.

Every time the Diamondbacks visit, they'll bring Bumgarner with them, and there's a good chance the Giants will have to face their longtime ace four or five in 2020. 

There are plenty of reasons Bumgarner chose the desert, and a desire to play competitive baseball is high on the list. The Diamondbacks very quietly won 85 games last year and will count on Bumgarner to lead a young rotation. They'll also lean on Stephen Vogt, who turned a strong season as Buster Posey's backup into a $3 million deal with Arizona. Vogt is as good a clubhouse guy as there is in the game today, and he'll join Bumgarner in taking direct aim at the Dodgers. 

Giving Bumgarner $85 million was the big splash, but the Diamondbacks also signed Kole Calhoun to a two-year deal, adding an outfielder who had 33 homers last season. Hector Rondon, a former closer with the Cubs and Astros, was added to the bullpen, and on Monday morning the Diamondbacks were finalizing a deal for Pirates center fielder Starling Marte, per multiple reports. 

Adam Jones, who had some nice moments for them early last year, is in Japan now, but that's about the only noteworthy loss for a team that traded Paul Goldschmidt last offseason and Zack Greinke in July. 

To add to it, Arizona has acquired outfielder Starling Marte via trade with Pittsburgh to bolster that outfield and give the other Marte, Ketel, a chance to have a permanent position in the infield. 

The end of the rebuild: San Diego Padres

Rival players and officials have been waiting a couple of years for the Padres to finally become what A.J. Preller has envisioned, and they have continued to be aggressive in a bid to end a lengthy rebuild. It was no surprise when The Athletic reported they were after Betts; they're in on plenty of big names these days, but this was a quieter offseason after a couple of previous splashes that brought Eric Hosmer and Manny Machado to town. 

The Padres really could have used hometown kid Stephen Strasburg, but he stayed with the reigning champs. Their big free agency splash ended up being Drew Pomeranz, who sneakily had one of the greatest bouncebacks of 2019. The lefty signed a $1.5 million deal with the Giants, pitched his way out of the rotation, started throwing 97 mph, dominated for two months in Milwaukee, and signed a four-year, $34 million deal to return to San Diego. The new repertoire looked real and sustainable once Pomeranz switched to relieving, but that's still a risky contract to give a bullpen piece. 

The Padres will count on a young rotation -- led by Chris Paddack and potentially top prospect Mackenzie Gore -- but they still could use more consistency here (it'll be interesting to see if Bumgarner opens up about his options; he would have been a great fit for the Padres). Veteran righty Zach Davies is in and lefty Eric Lauer is now a Brewer. 

The lineup will have a much different look. Tommy Pham, an on-base machine, came over from the Rays in a deal that cost the Padres Hunter Renfroe and prospect Xavier Edwards. Young outfielder Trent Grisham was added in a trade with the Brewers, who got second base prospect Luis Urias. The Padres filled that hole by acquiring Jurickson Profar from the A's. 

A Betts deal seems unlikely and the Padres still could use pitching, but they're hopeful this is the year if finally comes together. A healthy Fernando Tatis Jr. would go a long way towards guaranteeing it does. He turned 21 earlier this month, and it wouldn't at all be a surprise to see him standing as one of the top five players in the National League by the end of the summer.  

[RELATED: Could young Giants starters end up in bullpen?]

The mess: Colorado Rockies

How do you screw things up with Nolan Arenado so badly that he's texting beat writers and expressing his frustration with management? That was the highlight of the offseason for the Rockies, who whiffed badly in previous attempts to spend -- Ian Desmond, Wade Davis, etc. -- and basically sat out the last three months (seriously, MLB's official page shows five transactions for the Rockies in December and January and four of them were for players being moved off the active roster). 

The Rockies went 71-91 last year (finishing six games behind the Giants), haven't signed a player to a guaranteed Major League deal this offseason and have a bloated payroll. It's hard to see how this ends with anything but an Arenado trade and a full rebuild. 

Giants have ample production to replace six weeks into MLB free agency

Giants have ample production to replace six weeks into MLB free agency

If you go to a team page on baseball-reference, you'll see pictures of the top 12 players for each season, sorted by Wins Above Replacement. It can be a fun trip down memory lane. 

Click on the 2015 Giants and you'll see Matt Duffy, Jake Peavy, Chris Heston and George Kontos mixed in among the longtime core Giants. Go back to the last title team and you'll see photos of Jean Machi, Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco. Pull up the legendary 2010 team and the first two photos are of Aubrey Huff and Andres Torres. 

The 2019 team didn't provide nearly as much value as most recent Giants clubs, but if you pull up the page for last season, the first thing you notice might be a little scary. Sorted by WAR, seven of the 12 Giants listed won't be on the roster on opening day. 

Now, the 2019 Giants weren't good, so it's not like running it back was ever something that should have been under consideration. They went 77-85 last year but won so many one-run games that they actually had a better record than expected. Their Pythagorean record (based on runs scored and allowed) was just 71-91. 

But Farhan Zaidi and Scott Harris have said they want to be competitive as deep into next season as possible. This isn't a race for the No. 1 draft pick, and there's a lot of production that needs to be replaced before the team reports to camp in February ... 

Madison Bumgarner

He agreed to a deal with the Diamondbacks over the weekend, and no matter how you feel about the situation, there's no denying that Bumgarner brought a lot to the Giants last year. He was worth 2.8 Wins Above Replacement and leaves 207 2/3 innings that need to be filled. 

Will Smith

One of the best relievers in the NL, he's now a Brave. Smith was worth 2.2 WAR and the Giants don't currently have an obvious choice for the ninth inning. 

Pablo Sandoval

He sneakily provided 1.5 WAR and hit 14 homers while balancing out Evan Longoria. There was no choice to be made with this one. Sandoval had Tommy John surgery and will miss most of the season, but that's still some production that will need to be made up. 

Kevin Pillar

Before Bumgarner departed, non-tendering Pillar stood as the most controversial roster decision of the offseason. There are valid baseball reasons for the move, but that's still 1.4 WAR and 21 homers that's headed elsewhere. You're not supposed to talk about RBI in 2019, but Pillar drove in 87 runs last year. That production will need to be replaced. 

Stephen Vogt

He'll now catch Bumgarner in Arizona, and the Giants will need to find another backup catcher. Vogt was a perfect complement to Buster Posey, and he actually outpaced him by some metrics. Baseball-reference had Vogt at 1.2 WAR and Posey at 0.9; FanGraphs has Posey at 1.8 and Vogt at 0.9. 

Reyes Moronta and Sam Dyson

The Giants traded Dyson in July, he had shoulder surgery, and there are very good off-field reasons beyond that to keep him out of a clubhouse. But he threw 51 strong innings in four months for the 2019 team and Moronta, who is out until July or August with his own shoulder surgery, threw 56 2/3. These guys made solid contributions to last year's win total and will need to be replaced. 

[RELATED: Why Giants didn't keep MadBum forever]

Just from the free agents alone, that's over nine Wins Above Replacement no longer on the roster. You can argue that those players were likely to decline or not worth the investment, but there's no arguing how much raw production the Giants have to replace. 

There is some good news when you look at that leaderboard, though. Mike Yastrzemski (2.8 WAR) and Donovan Solano (1.6) ranked in the Giants' top six, and Zaidi has proven adept at finding those types of players in his career. The Giants will keep churning through the roster in hopes of building a sustainable winner. They'd better hope some of the players shine sooner than later because otherwise, it's going to be another very ugly number in the loss column.  

Ex-Giant Stephen Vogt excited to be Madison Bumgarner's teammate again

Ex-Giant Stephen Vogt excited to be Madison Bumgarner's teammate again

There will be a Giants reunion in the desert to start off the next decade. Forever Giants Madison Bumgarner and Stephen Vogt are staying in the NL West with the Arizona Diamondbacks. 

Bumgarner reportedly agreed to a five-year, $85 million contract with the D-backs on Sunday. Vogt signed a one-year contract with Arizona on Nov. 26. 

And Vogt, who caught Bumgarner in four games last season, told the Associated Press' Janie McCauley that he couldn't be happier to play with the veteran left-hander once again. 

The San Francisco Chronicle's Henry Schulman also reached out to Vogt. 

[RELATED: Here's when MadBum, D-backs first play Giants back in SF]

Vogt was behind the dish for 24 of Bumgarner's 207 2/3 innings pitched last season, and could be for many more next year in Arizona. The two will return to San Francisco to face the Giants at Oracle Park for the first time from April 6-9. 

Bumgarner is reuniting with another former teammate, too. Fellow starting pitcher Mike Leake was with the Giants for two months in 2015, when he was acquired from the Reds at the MLB trade deadline.