GM Meetings: Hank has the Dirt

As the GM meetings take place in Orlando, you can cross one name off the list of outfielders available this winter. The Phillies signed Marlon Byrd to a 2-year, $16M deal this morning. The deal itself isn’t all that surprising, as MLB Trade Rumors had him signing at a projected 2-$15M, but I think the Phightin’ Phils are sending a pretty clear message to the rest of baseball here by not wasting any time. With such a slim market this year (especially for outfielders), teams really do need to get their negotiations going early… Does that mean they’ll have to overpay some? Probably, but it might beat the alternative of waiting, as this market could dry up pretty rapidly.

One team who’s not waiting around to throw their name out there: that’s right, your own Gigantes. While Baggs’ is tossing around unrealistic qualifying offer hitter fluff pieces over at his place, Hammerin’ Hank Schulman got down to business this morning, and just called into KNBR from Orlando to chat about his findings.

First off, a big surprise. The Braves apparently low-balled Tim Hudson. According to Hank, the offer was low enough that it all but sent the message “We don’t want you here anymore.” Those are his words, not mine. I would say most people (myself included) didn’t see that coming. Hudson spent 9 years with the Braves, and only posted an ERA north of 4 once. To lowball him is a pretty big slap in the face, in my opinion. Enter the Giants, pitching gurus! Word is Hudson’s willing to go west, and multiple sources are calling him a “chief target” for Brian Sabean.

The Giants need pitching, and they prefer shorter deals. According to Mr. Schulman, they’re not afraid to bump up the yearly salary on those deals to get their man, either (see Lincecum, Timothy). So…Hudson’s available, and could probably be had on a one or two-year offer… he made $9M last year, and he’s predicted to earn about the same this year. If the Giants upped it to $11M (they can afford it), he’d probably accept. But what do I know anyway?!

Personally, I’d take Hudson in a heartbeat. The guy is a total pro, and he’s quietly been one of the most consistent pitchers of this era. 426 career starts, 25 complete games, a 3.44 ERA, and a .649 win%. Age is really the only thing working against him, although the brutal ankle injury might scare a few teams away… like Hank says, though, “There’s nothing wrong with his arm.” I know there are certainly people who would ream Sabean for a two-year deal for a 38 year-old in the twilight of his career, but I wouldn’t be one of them. If that two-year deal prevents us from three years of Bronson Arroyo, that’s all the better in my opinion.

Speaking of Arroyo, Schulman mentioned him as a guy the Giants might stay away from, as the interest for him might indeed push his offers to three years… thank goodness.  Hank did bring up Scott Feldman and Dan Haren as two other starters that could be on Uncle Sabes’ shopping list, though. One thing I found interesting, he seemed to think that Ryan Vogelsong’s days in the orange and black are done. If Sabean wants a rotation that’ll compete with the Dodgers and Cardinals, he needs to come in with 5 solid options. Long story short, Vogey and Petit are Plan B, and the Giants know they need to focus on Plan A.

A couple other things before I wrap up the “Schulman Talks.” As for trading Pablo; there’s certainly interest out there, and the Giants should listen to any offers. But unloading the Panda would probably create more hills than it filled, and the front office probably isn’t willing to subtract his valuable “power potential” at the moment. Honestly, unless someone blows you away with an offer, I too think it makes more sense to hang onto him this winter.

Finally: playing the qualifying offer games. Hank says he’s talked to a few folks from the Giants in Orlando who report there is a scenario where the club could give up its first round pick. If someone gets the Kyle Lohse treatment, and remains available this spring, there’s a chance the Giants could swoop in and make a discounted offer. Overall, though, I expect (and hope) they’ll hold onto that pick.

So we have our first pretty significant Giants rumor, and the market for outfielders is already shrinking. I’d expect Sabean to start tossing some offers out there in the coming weeks, so there should be plenty to talk about in the hot stove department going forward.

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21 thoughts on “GM Meetings: Hank has the Dirt”

  1. I’m not upset someone else signed Byrd. Sabean may be weeping though. He fit the Sabean mold. He loves those old, tottering outfielders. A few years ago the Giants had the oldest starting outfield in the history of baseball coming out of spring training (if they held together during spring training, I forget). How did that work out?

    I’m no doctor (though I play one on the internet), but I diagnose that Sandoval is addicted to food. I said that when he showed up to his FIRST spring training 30 pounds overweight. (I also said he had an addictive personality which might get him overinvolved in other things like gambling or sex.) Panda has said, or intimated, that he intends to straighten out during his walk year. If he can do that (50-50 chance), it could be a great year for all of us. We are all aware of his potential.

    If he can do that it would raise his market value to the highest point it will ever be in his lifetime. Then, YOU GOTTA DUMP HIM! You gotta risk the villagers marching with torches and pitchforks cuz it just ain’t gonna last. He’s an addict. He will crash.

    1. I definitely see more scenarios where Pablo doesn’t return after next season. If he stinks and the team stinks, they trade him midseason. If he’s awesome, somebody probably pays him big money on the free market. It sounds like the Giants are frustrated enough with him already. But to your point, I think next year really could be his last great year (assuming he shows up in shape). It’s pretty sad, really, but he just hasn’t been trustworthy to keep up his conditioning. I don’t see that changing in the future, especially as his natural hitting abilities start to fade… the fan base will miss him, but he is one homegrown player I think Sabean will cut ties with.

    2. I agree that signing Sandoval to any contract longer than 2 years is a very bad idea and he will likely get more than that on the market if he has a big 2014 season.

      I disagree about Sabean an tottering OF’s. That was then, when they were trying to win one for Barry and Pink Peter was the Managing Partner, this is now. Sabes has shown over and over that he values defense and speed in his OF’s at the expense of offense. If he occasionally signs a 38 year old, he’s just playing Moneyball and exploiting a market inefficiency.

      As for Byrd. He’s coming off an outlier season. I’m glad he is off the market. I’d rather try to get a Chris Young or Justin Ruggiano on the cheap and hope for a positive regression.

      1. That definitely was a different time DrB, and you’d have to say the last four years have debunked the myth that Sabean prefers the aging vets. In general, of course he’ll take a player with experience over one without any, but I think most GM’s would do the same. The days of the Bonds/Finley/Alou outfields are definitely over. No, Pence and Pagan aren’t the youngest guys in the world, but they’re practically old-timers compared to the youth in the infield.

  2. I have a hunch that Dr. Bombay is going to be following me around and challenging everything I write because he is obsessed with me. You know, I hate doing research. Next time, you do the research. Deal?
    I didn’t have any evidence that “Sabean loved old, tottering outfielders.” It just seemed to me he signed a lot of them. So, you challenge me and I look it up. I expanded it to outfielders and first basemen.
    Sabean was promoted to GM in 1996. Give him a year to settle in and this was his first outfield in 1998 with their ages.
    1998
    Joe Carter 38
    Ellis Burks 33
    Barry Bonds* 33
    Darryl Hamilton* 33
    Stan Javier# 34

    Nothing of note until:
    2001
    Andres Galarraga 40

    2002
    Shawon Dunston 38
    Eric Davis 39
    John Vander Wal* 35
    2003
    Marquis Grissom 36

    I’m going to skip over several years because I got bored and pick it up in:
    2008
    Randy Winn# 34
    Dave Roberts* 36
    Scott McClain 36
    2010
    Pat Burrell 33
    Jose Guillen 34
    Aubrey Huff* 33

    2011
    Carlos Beltran# 34
    2012
    Xavier Nady 33
    2013
    Andres Torres# 35
    I ought to include Jeff Francoeur in 2013 because, though he was only 29, he was the epitomy of a washed up vet.
    So there you go. No one under 33. I think my impression was correct, that he signs far more “tottering” vets than the average. You want to prove that it’s only average or below, you do the research.
    That’s directed to Dr. Bombay by the way.

  3. Well, the Giants have definitely signed their share of aging vets in the Sabean era, but the pattern has obviously declined in recent years… so I suppose the both of you have valid points. DrB has been the biggest (and one of the only) supporters of this blog, so I his feedback is very appreciated. Yours is as well, as long as it is in good taste… Let us all just be grateful the days of Winn/Roberts/McClain are long gone!

  4. Some weeks ago I posted this on Dr. B’s blog:
    “The Giants have no fielding prospects above A ball except for bench players.
    At A+ they have Mac Williamson, Ricky Oropesa and Matt Duffy, all of whom are young for that level, but a year or two away. 25-year-old Myles Schroder came on strong at the end. He has a bat, but not a glove, similar to Jim Davenport.

    Below A+ is a kaleidoscope.”
    He deleted it almost immediately. Why? He didn’t want crap like that on his blog I suppose. I wouldn’t be surprised if he pressured you to ban me from this blog. He can’t stand me for a reason that will become obvious shortly if it’s not already.
    He is an excelent reporter and he digs deep into the minors. I have great respect for him.

    1. This is a fairly new blog, and I will not be banning anybody. What others do on their blog is their business. I appreciate your input and comments, but let’s keep it to baseball and not personal feuds…

  5. Keep up the good work, KG. Your blog is getting some linkage and praise over at the Merc Blog.

    As for the tottering OFer’s, the problem isn’t Sabean’s predilection for them, it’s the inability to draft and develop OFers. When you can’t put your own young guy out there, you have to shop in the market where young FAs aren’t playing for their final contract, they are playing to put up #’s that might get them one more big contract after their initial FA experience. So what’s usually left for Sabes, historically, are the untouchables, or old tottering dudes.

    So here’s to Mac Williamson in 2016!

    1. Thanks for commenting, and welcome to Cove Chatter. Outfield development has certainly been a problem for the organization, but I think they’ve put themselves in a good spot going forward with Pagan and Pence locked up. Those are two guys who should give you above average offense and enough defense to get by for at least the next couple of years (if Pagan can stay healthy).

      So, the need to fill only one spot out there definitely takes the pressure off. I don’t see Sabean bringing in anything more than a stop-gap option this winter, in all honesty… so someone from the organization will need to step up eventually.

      I do think Mac can be the guy. Again, it’s all about health. If Adam Duvall and Jarrett Parker can swat 15+ HR in Richmond, I believe Mac could legitimately hit 20. Sure, there’ll be an adjustment period, but his second half in SJ was unreal.

      Speaking of Parker, he might surprise a few people in Fresno too. Maybe he gets a chance to man CF some time in the next couple years. Big contact problems, sure, but solid defense with some pop in the bat.

      We’ve seen how guys like Blanco and Perez can change a game defensively… now imagine if Gary Brown can even make enough contact to hit .270 with some gap power. I still think he’s got a chance, but he needs to figure it out quick. Lots of options, for sure… will anyone step up?

  6. Here’s a hypothetical for the Giants I’d be comfortable with:
    Sign Shin-Soo Choo for 5/120 and the loss of a first round pick.
    Go with Petit. Surkamp, Gaudin, Mitch Lively (currently dominating in the VWL) and whoever else might come along on the cheap, as the 4th and 5th starters (assuming all the available money has gone to Choo).
    The upside of that is a lineup like:
    Pagan
    Choo
    Belt
    Posey
    Pence
    Sandoval
    Scutaro
    Crawford
    Which might be a match for any in baseball. The downside is a gamble that young guys and/or vets can pitch okay as starters. I have high hopes for Surkamp. Petit was outstanding last season. Lively has pitched his way into consideration. And, as Sabean has said, If one of the guys at AA gets hot, he can skip AAA and come right up.
    Yeah, I would be comfortable with that.

    1. I’ll be honest. I think the odds of that happening are slim to none, nor would I be comfortable with it. Now, a season ago, I would have traded for Choo in a heartbeat. I thought he would have been a nice addition to the team, and apparently the Reds thought so too. In a perfect world, if the Giants had 5 solid starting pitchers and didn’t have to give up a draft pick, I’d say go for it… solidify your outfield. But to me, the pitching staff is such a greater priority. That is the Giants’ bread and butter, and no way would they run Mitch Lively out there every 5th day (although It’d be a pretty cool story for a kid who grew up in Susanville).

      At this time, though, paying that much money AND losing your 1st round pick for Choo would do more harm than good… but that is just my opinion.

  7. It’s a big gamble for one year, but look beyond that. The flood of young starters arrive. And the Giants have one of the best middle of the orders in baseball not to mention an extra draft pick for the departing Sandoval.
    I have never liked putting that much money into one player, but this guy has a .400 OBP plus speed and power.
    It may not be the best course but I see lots of plusses long range.

  8. In terms of outfielders, the big disappointment is, of course, Gary Brown. The only other serious outfield prospect recently has been Peguero, and I’m not quite ready to write him off after only 46 major league plate appearances over three different call-ups, but–no one seems especially excited about him, either. Perez was a nice surprise defensively this year, but no one seems serious about him as anything but a fourth or fifth outfielder.

    But it’s fair to note that they did draft an outfielder (Brown) in the first round in 2010 and then another in the third round (Mac) in 2012.

    1. Thanks for the comment! Brown certainly has some bouncing back to do… and quick. I think the Giants will give him some chances, but he needs to show them this season that he’s not the bust people are starting to think he is.

      I’m not ready to give up on Peguero either, but he hasn’t especially excited me in his short time. I think Juan Perez has passed Peguero and Kieschnick on the depth chart, personally. It’ll be interesting to see if any of them makes the team out of Spring Training. Maybe Peguero is a trade candidate?

      All four of these guys certainly have their tools… athleticism, speed, arm… but the hit tool hasn’t developed. Perez and Peguero particularly have almost no plate discipline. That is a pattern for a handful of the hitters the Giants invested prior to the past few years, and I think it’s why we’re seeing a shift in the type of hitters taken in the most recent drafts. Arroyo, Panik, Susac… all offensive-first players whose other tools might not stand out as much.

      1. Christian Arroyo was on the Hot Stove show with Ray Woodson on KNBR last night, and my goodness, what an impressive young man. Hard to believe he’s only 18 years old. If you haven’t heard it, I highly recommend finding it on the KNBR site.

      2. I will definitely check that out, thanks for the tip. I feel the same way about Kyle Crick when I watch/listen to him. The Giants really seem to be targeting high-character guys these days… and I have to say I approve in a big way.

  9. Well, we went the week without a signing. Darn. I was thinking that the Phils getting in would get Sabean overbidding as well. Javier Lopez is getting linked to the eastern seaboard, first the Nats and now the Yanks. Let’s see what happens over the weekend, Hudson or Haren would be a nice way to kickstart.

    Enjoyed your analysis on the start of hot stove.

    1. Thanks! You’re right, the trail has gone a little cold during the past few days. You’d have to think Sabean’s “take it or leave it” offer for Hudson will be on the table soon (if it wasn’t already). What do you think? 1-$10, 2-$22? One pitcher will fall pretty soon, I’d think.

  10. John Bowker and Joe Martinez even up for Javier Lopez.
    That was a deal I would never have made. I have to say that before I comment on pitching acquisitions. I concede that Sabean is smarter than me when it comes to pitching but that’s not going to stop me from putting in my 2 cents.
    With all the starting pitching on the way, it doesn’t seem smart to me to sign a free agent starter for more than one year.
    That’s all I have to say on that subject.
    Now let’s talk sex. You gettin’ any?

    1. The young homegrown pitchers may start arriving in 2015, but likely won’t have their feet on the ground until 2016 and that is probably the most optimistic projection. There are also no guarantees they will arrive at all. Remember Ainsworth, Foppert and Williams?

      The Giants public stance is that they are looking for pitchers on 2-3 year deals. One rumor has them offering Ricky Nolasco 3 years when other teams are offering 4. Timmy is on a 2 year deal. If they sign 1 or 2 more pitchers to 3 year deals there will be room to add between 2 and 3 homegrown kids when they arrive.

      Limiting to 1 year deals pretty much leaves them in dumpster dive territory which may work out, but also will probably won’t make them competitive with the Dodgers over the next 2-3 years.

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