Believe it or not, an even year actually finished with the San Francisco Giants not winning a World Series. Although they did win 87 games and clinch a Wild Card berth before losing to the Chicago Cubs in the NLDS, it was clear that their usual winning formula was missing in 2016. The Giants 2016 offseason needs are fairly obvious.
Giants 2016 Offseason Needs
Fifth and Final Pitcher
The starting rotation definitely remains a focal point of the Giants roster. Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto very well could be the best two-man combination in baseball. Jeff Samardzija gave the team over 200 quality innings in year one of his five-year, $90 million contract. Matt Moore was also very solid after his acquisition on August 1, and made every start count.
The fifth guy the Giants would most likely go to is Matt Cain, but can you really can’t count on him to get you more than 100 innings next season? He’s been dealing with the injury bug most of his career and there’s uncertainty as to how much more he’s got left in the tank. Getting another low-end pitcher could really be the final touch for the Giants.
Chris Heston, who missed most of 2016 with an oblique injury after an impressive rookie season, could be Cain’s top competitor. However, Ivan Nova could be a great fit for San Francisco. At age 29, he still has a lot to offer. Nova was with the New York Yankees and then traded in the middle of the year last season. He posted a 12-8 record with a 3.98 ERA.
The Giants lost Game 4 of the NLDS because they lacked a full time closer. Last season, the Giants pitching staff had a team ERA of 3.65, but the ninth inning did not revel in the same success. Closer Sergio Romo is a free agent in 2017, and it’s time the Giants invest in someone new to lock up their games.
Two of the biggest names Giants fans would like to have are Mark Melancon and Kenley Jansen. Jansen is a power pitcher who the Giants are definitely no stranger to. Since his rookie season in 2010, Jansen has never finished a season with a sub-37.6% strikeout rate, and finished the last two season with over a 40% strikeout rate. The Giants have never shied away from dropping a pretty penny or two, but with contenders like the Cubs, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Yankees in the running for closer help as well, its certain that the bidding war could possibly reach record highs for a reliever.
Melancon may be the better bargain signing, but not by much. He has only blown six saves in the last two years. Compare that to the nine blown saves that Santaigo Casilla had last year alone, and he looks a whole lot better. Melancon is a better choice for the Giants simply because this leaves more money to fill the final big hole that the Giants have in left field.
The Outfield Dilemma
Besides Hunter Pence, the Giants are missing that elusive power bat in their lineup. Pence dealt with injuries last season and, in his absence, there wasn’t someone who could change the course of a game with one swing of the bat. There are certainly a few power bats when it comes to free agent outfielders this season.
If the Giants want to make a World Series appearance in 2017, a player like Yoenis Cespedes should be essential. Cespedes opted out of his contract with the New York Mets, walking away from $47.5 million guaranteed after the 2018 season. In the event of Cespedes not working out, Jose Bautista could be another solid option. Both would command large contracts, however, and there are some cheaper alternatives.
Should the Giants decide to sign some guys this winter or make some trades, they will be in excellent shape. They are not in a bad position right now, but bolstering the lineup could help them enormously in the grand scheme of things. Signing one of the top free agents this offseason would require either a payroll increase, some creative structuring, or a trade. If general manager Bobby Evans can make it happen, the Giants will enter the 2017 season with one of the more talented and well-balanced rosters in baseball.