On a relatively younger franchise that boasts no players over the age of 34, the San Francisco Giants are looking to improve upon their 2018 season, having finished with a record of 73-89, putting the team 18.5 games behind the division winners, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The payroll has a decent amount of space currently in it, as the estimated cap space sits just a bit north of $33 million, a healthy number that has plenty of room to fluctuate throughout spring training. Backstop Buster Posey and starting pitcher Johnny Cueto both have salaries sitting at $21 million or above, and eight total players have contracts that are in double digits for the 2019 campaign.
The team’s 73-victory season placed them in fourth in their division, only seven games in front of the bottom-feeding San Diego Padres, who have been included in prominent rumors for the superstar players this offseason, both in the free agency and trade markets. Having met with Bryce Harper, the Padres also were rumored to be going after Manny Machado and had conversations with the Cleveland Indians about acquiring All-Star Corey Kluber.
With the Padres looking to rid themselves of the last place in the National League West, the Giants need to make sure that they do not get passed up in the process. While not included in talks with any big-time players, San Francisco has a chance to really make some moves to improve their standing for this season, hopefully putting themselves in a position that makes them buyers and not sellers at the July trade deadline, where they commonly have been sellers the past few years.
With that in mind, the Giants have the biggest needs in the outfield, as Hunter Pence is still a free agent and Andrew McCutchen was signed by the Philadelphia Phillies after the Giants shipped him out to the New York Yankees last season. At the moment, there are no well-known names manning the confines for the Giants, showing how important of a need that positional grouping is.
The team’s payroll is dominated by relief pitchers, as four of the top 12 Giants based on highest contracts are relievers, so they do have a plethora of bullpen arms that they can trade from if wanted.
If looking to make a splash, the team may want to call up one of the busiest front offices of the offseason in the Seattle Mariners, led by general manager Jerry DiPoto for a deal involving All-Star outfielder Mitch Haniger. The Mariners, who have dominated this offseason by shedding salary and giving up talent (?) in the process, could be looking to reshape their farm system.
While the Giants do have a very lowly ranked minor league system, they still do have a few pieces that could entice the Mariners, combined with a major league talent or two to sweeten the potential deal. To get Haniger, who made his inaugural All-Star appearance last season, would instantly become the young star the team needs to turn the franchise around and help shore up the outfield ranks.
Putting a package together that involves starting pitcher Shaun Anderson (#3 in 2018), shortstop Marco Luciano (#5), MLB reliever Will Smith and a competitive balance draft pick would be at least a starting point for the two teams to bring a deal together.
While the Giants will probably be at least one more season away from competing and should focus on building for 2020, 2019 should not be totally forgotten, as the current level of talent has the potential to make major strides early on. In a very competitive division where any of the top three teams could win the West, the Giants are on the outside looking in.