First things first, some context. The 2017 free agent class is almost worthless to the Giants. Carlos Gomez is the only big name and starting pitching is all but nonexistent, certainly top tier pitching.. This year is the year. So here goes:
This off season is all about pitching. But not the big names, Cueto, Price, and Greinke are immediate nos. CC Sabathia and Matt Cain show exactly why they are risky signings. Any free agent mega-contract is a risk, but starting pitchers have more devastating injuries, and decline much faster. Looking at those big three, all throw 94+ MPH, and that velocity will diminish quickly and painfully. I do like Jordan Zimmerman's ground ball rate, but his earning power and the number of years to commit that are needed to sign him make him unreasonable. The Giants will have $48MM, according to Grant Brisbee of McCovey Chronicles' math, to commit this off season, and the Giants have 4 pitchers in their price range and commitment level they need to watch, and sign at least two of them.
- Mike Leake we all know, and we all watched him throw a two hitter on Wednesday. That's not what he'll do every fifth day, but it's the upside he has at 27 years old. He can likely be signed for 4-5 years at an annual rate of between 12 and 15 million dollars.
- Jeff Samardzija has had a bad year, but he has good stuff. Maybe he could be just as good as some of the big names, at times he's certainly looked the part. That's not the point though. He has major upside at a second tier price. 4 years at a salary of between 10 and 16 million, depending on the market climate.
- Wei-Yin Chen is quite similar to Matt Cain circa 2010. Not similar by velocity, or pitch arsenal, or innings pitched, but rather that his quality just can't measured by ERA estimators. He consistently pitchers well beyond what he 'should' be able to do. His BABIP is low, but not ridiculously low, and he doesn't strike out a ton of hitters. But he gets a lot of outs a lot of ways in the difficult and hitter friendly AL-East. He'll likely cost between 9 and 12 million over three or four years.
- Kenta Maeda is a complete wild card. Japanese pitchers are always wild cards. To compare Maeda to a current big leaguer from Japan, he looks like a young Hisashi Iwakuma, albeit with a bit higher upside. He won't cost nearly what Yu Darvish and Masahiro Tanaka cost, but no one really knows what he will cost. If he can be had for less that 10 million annually, the posting fee is likely worth it.
The Giants should sign two or three of those pitchers, they have the money, the flexibility, and the need. To sign two of those pitchers would leave them in slightly better shape to pursue the only two position players I would recommend:
Ah-Seop Son and Byeong-Ho Park, two Korean soon-to-be expatriates.
- Son is a solid outfielder who compares most closely to a younger Nick Markakis. He has got a good eye and bat control, added with average-ish power. His speed is a plus, but he isn't a major base stealer.
- Park is a slugging corner infielder who has upside for 25-30 homers. Park compares to a Brandon Moss type without significant platoon splits. Power in Korea is and will always be suspect, even with Jung-Ho Kang's success in Pittsburgh. Former Giants prospect Brett Pill has hit 41 home runs in 883 Korean at bats. He has nine big league home runs in 240 at bats. Perhaps the Korean league can be thought of in the same terms as the notoriously hitter friendly AAA Pacific Coast League. That being said Park hit 52 home runs in 518 at bats in 2015, and that number, in any league besides the Potomac Wiffle Ball League, is serious.
Both will command decent contracts, but are likely in budget.
The Giants could pursue Ben Zobrist, Alex Gordon, Gerrardo Parra, or Hisashi Iwakuma, but money is probably short for those players. Doug Fister could also be on the map for reasonable deal as well, but the interest may not be there because of his age.
Those are my thoughts, albeit a bit haphazardly put together, I'll admit. Now I must return my mind to real life. That sure sucks.