We’ve already looked at current free agent targets for the Giants this winter. Now let’s see who’s set to hit the market a year from now. Remember, the point isn’t necessarily to figure out who the Giants will target next year, but more to see if there’s anyone out there making too much money in their final year for a non-competitive team. Generally, those are the types of players rebuilding teams are willing to move.
Our Giants, well they’re kind of stuck on the center divider for the moment. They aren’t anywhere close to contention, but we don’t know if they have any desire to sell off their final-year guys like Bumgarner & Will Smith either. Still, they’re a team with some payroll room and obvious holes to fill. Just as short-term FA contracts look like the best plan for them right now, acquiring a couple of players on final-year deals might not be such a bad idea either. So let’s take a look at who’s available, shall we?
*= team option for 2020
Jose Abreu 1B | White Sox = Ok, you caught me. This one’s super unlikely, especially when we consider Chicago would be selling low on their star 1B after his worst season (114 wRC+, 1.2 fWAR) in the big leagues. Of course, the Giants would need to have an actual opening at 1B to make this happen anyway. But, if we’re playing all the scenarios here, maybe the new front office staff is committed to moving Belt for a prospect package, and maybe the White Sox don’t want to pay Abreu the $16M he’s projected to earn this year. Very unlikely? Yes. Impossible? Not exactly.
*Starlin Castro 2B | Marlins = Castro has a $16M club option for 2020, with a $1M buyout. In other words, he’s essentially a free agent next winter. He’ll make just shy of $12M next season, and I’d be pretty surprised if Miami doesn’t trade him before spring training. He’s still a capable hitter (109 wRC+, 12 HR this year), & probably younger than you might have realized (he’ll be 29 on Opening Day). Are the Giants going to give Panik a chance to rebound next year, or will they look to find more offense at the position? If they choose the latter, I could see them making a call on Castro.
Jonathan Schoop 2B | Brewers = He’s projected at $10+M for his final contract year. Are the Brewers really going to pay him that kind of money? Maybe, but it seems just as likely they look to trade him. He is coming off a down year, but he’s also hit 26 HR on average during the past three seasons & just turned 27 this month. There’s a chance he’s merely a hitters’ park mirage, but there’s also something intriguing about him to me.
*Yangervis Solarte INF | Blue Jays = Solarte seemed like an interesting trade candidate for the Giants last winter, but the Padres sent him to Toronto instead. He’s got team options for this year ($5.5M) & next ($8M), but for the right prospect I can imagine the Blue Jays sending him to his next destination. As a team that’s been riddled with injuries the past few years, the Giants could use another switch-hitter who can play multiple infield positions & knows the division well.
Corey Dickerson LF | Pirates = Dickerson was DFA by the Rays in an odd move last offseason. They traded him to Pittsburgh, where he played 135 games and earned 2.7 fWAR. His HR dropped quite a bit, as you’d expect them to in San Francisco (he’s a lefty), but for a guy who DH’d quite frequently in Tampa, he actually landed in the 94th percentile in outs above average. He’s projected to earn $8M in his final year of arbitration, and I can’t make up my mind whether the Pirates want to keep him or move him for a couple prospects.
*Alex Gordon LF | Royals = Gordon turns 35 next spring & is set to earn $20M in what’s likely the last year of his contract. He’s not a player the Giants should be looking at the fill an opening. But what if they agree to take on $15M of his salary in order to land a more intriguing player *cough* Whit Merrifield *cough*? The Royals are looking to keep their payroll down, & despite his status as 11-year tenure with the franchise, I can see KC’s front office welcoming the idea of another team paying for his remaining year.
Billy Hamilton CF | Reds = Have the Reds finally lowered the asking price on Hamilton? Let’s get that guy in the outfield grass at AT&T! Seriously though, he’s pegged for $5.9M in arbitration this winter & probably isn’t going anywhere before July.
Nick Castellanos LF | Tigers = Castellanos literally grades out as the worst outfield defender in MLB. But oh boy, have I been dreaming on his bat this fall. He’s projected at $11M next year, doesn’t sound like he wants to stay in Detroit, & just posted a 130 wRC+ & 3 fWAR (both career highs). What would the Tigers ask for in return? Probably not as much as you think. I don’t know, I just have a gut feeling we’re looking the next JD Martinez hitter here. If the Giants had the opportunity to see what he could do at the plate for them during his age-27 season, they’d be foolish not to in my opinion.
Avisail Garcia RF | White Sox = Garcia’s name got tossed around a little in Giants rumors last winter after a breakout 2017. He stayed in Chicago, & his numbers (at least his OPS) came crashing down. Now he’s owed $8M (projected) in his final year of control, & looks like a sell-low guy for the Sox. Yes, he’s always had plate discipline issues & some trouble staying healthy. But, you know, he’s actually a Statcast darling. When you average his expected offensive production (xwOBA), his exit velo, barrell %, defense, & footspeed, he grades out 8th among ALL outfielders. Yeah, I was surprised too. So I have this crazy theory that he could be a huge bounce-back candidate for 2019, & wouldn’t be opposed to the Giants flipping a player like Gorkys (or a prospect, if they so choose) for his services.