MLB Trade Rumors took a look at the San Francisco Giants this offseason in their column "Offseason Outlook." According to the article have roughly $62 million dedicated to the payroll before arbitration raises. Several key players are promised arbitration including Lincecum, Sanchez, Wilson, and Medders. The article also notes that these raises will not come cheap (especially Lincecum who was awarded super-two status), and will likely push the Giants committed payroll into the $80 million range. Considering our payroll was less than $83 million last season, and we are not expected to raise it much this season, this pretty much precludes the Giants from picking up a big name like Jason Bay or Matt Holliday (although, I always assumed Matt Holliday was too pricey for the Giants this year).
On the bright side, Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News suggested that the Giants have enough money to afford "one free agent starting pitcher and one modestly-priced free agent hitter."
Assuming this is correct we hopefully could bring back Brad Penny and some FA hitter (Xavier Nady or perhaps Nick Johnson is what I am thinking. I would rather have Nady). If Brad Penny insists on being paid more than the Giants can afford I suggest the Giants look after Rich Harden. Harden is an old colleague of Barry Zito and I think he would fit in well with the Giants as a second option.
Despite these payroll limitations, the Giants still have the opportunity to field a good team next year. Our first move was picking up Freddy Sanchez for what I believe is a good deal. He plays great defense at second base, and he has an average bat (which is an above average bat considering the Giants offense since Barry Bonds left the team).
Dan Uggla of the Florida Marlins is apparently for sale. Uggla plays third base, which means we could move Pablo Sandoval to first base and solve our corner infield problem. This would preclude us from signing Nick Johnson, since he would have to play first and we would not have room for him and Sandoval. For this reason, I think the Giants should move to sign Xavier Nady and plunk him in left field. There is also talk that Uggla can play left field, in which case we could sign Johnson, put him at first, and leave Sandoval at third. I do not think this is as good as the first option. Uggla himself is a good player, especially since he will come on the cheap.
Initially, the Giants and the Orioles were the two interested teams. Now it looks like the Orioles have dropped out of the race for Uggla, leaving us alone with him for now. Hopefully Sabean can get this deal done without any drastic moves (like trading Alderson). The Marlins will be looking for a prospect player that won't be arbitration eligible for a while. I'm not really sure who could fill their needs, but hopefully we can get it done.
I would welcome Uggla on the team. Last year he hit 31 HRs with a .243 AVG. The guy also had a .813 OPS. Definitely worth it for the Giants to pick him up. He has pop and the guy gets on base.
So, what do I expect the Giants to do considering this information? With our limited payroll this season due to bad contracts and pay raises, I expect the Giants to concentrate on keeping our core talent together, while signing Brad Penny and Xavier Nady ( or someone like him in the outfield) and then trade for Uggla. If all goes according to plan, the Giants would boast a lineup like the following:
Not a bad lineup. Not bad at all. I put Aaron Rowand in the lead-off spot because he did well there in 2009. Hopefully he can pick up his game a little bit for next year. I also am hoping that Edgar Renteria will see some more of his old self next year with his injury healed.
There is one question left open here: what about Posey? Is he ready to catch at the big leagues? I think the Giants don't have many options here. Molina is not going to be a Giant next year. There is simply no way that will happen (unless Molina took a bizarre pay-cut, which he would be a fool to do). There has been talk about the Giants signing Pudge Rodriguez as a way to mentor Posey during his first year.
I think the Giants need to stop pussy-footing around with Buster Posey. The only way he is going to learn is by throwing him in there. We don't need to waste precious money on Rodriguez. Posey can come up and get the starting job. Posey can hit, and he will learn to call big-league games. If he has trouble in the beginning, we can use Whiteside to step in.
All in all, I expect the Giants to put something similar to the above on the field in 2010. If that happens I will be very pleased, and I think we will be a contender for the division title.