Sunday, November 12, 2017

My First 2018 Giants Venting

Ugh, I hate when people talking about solving a team's problems and then lists a "solution" that is not even realistic at all.  Recently I read talked about a "solution":  just sign free agents Lorenzo Cain, Howie Kendrick, Todd Frazier, Jon Jay, Tyler Chatwood, Brandon Morrow, Yusmeiro Petit.  Problem solved!


ogc thoughts

It's easy to throw out solutions when you don't take reality into consideration, particularly long-term consequences, though some still even ignore consequences for that season.  That's what I hate of a lot of fans' comments on-air and on-line, where they don't even think through any of the consequences of their "solutions".  It's worse when it's a media "expert".

"Just spend all this money!"  How moronic, anybody can do that.  Worse is not thinking about what that all means, what the consequences are, both short-term and long-term.

First off, this would add roughly $60M in CBT payroll for 2018 (based on MLBTR's free agent estimates).  As I mentioned in another post, the Giants have roughly $8-9M to spend before exceeding the payroll.   That would mean that the team would pay at least 50% tax on the amount above, or roughly another $25M in penalties.  So that's a total of $85M extra paid out in 2018, for this solution.

Worse, the Giants only had EBITDA (or free cash flow) of $78M in 2016 per Forbes' estimates, and by  increasing costs by $85M, that would mean that the team is not only running at a loss (and probably a huge loss) but, worse, is running a negative cash flow, which means that owners would have to pony up more investments into the Giants, something many of the minority owners had complained about during the 2000's.  So, this is not going to happen.

Even if the owners were to agree to this, as a temporary measure (which usually would mean spending less in the coming years, meaning letting contracts end and not replacing other than with internal options or very cheap vets), this has consequences going forward.  The $85M extra would be for 2019 as well, unless they trade away enough salaries, which along with contracts ending, adds up to $50M or so, which would cut $25M off the penalties.

This would also mean $43M extra in 2020, which if they are still being penalized, would mean 50% tax on the amount they pass up the CBT penalty threshold.  Signing all these guys  will have significant payroll and penalty effects on the next three seasons.

Another significant negative is that because the Giants are being penalized for passing the CBT threshold, they would lose their 2nd and 5th round picks in 2018 as penalty for signing Cain.  The solution actually noted that the Giants won't lose their 2nd and 5th round picks because Frazier was not QOed, not realizing that they would't have those picks to lose because his "solution" of signing Cain, who was QOed, means that they lose those picks already.

And because the Giants have the 2nd pick in every round currently, losing their 2nd and 5th round picks is like losing their 1st and 4th round picks for the seasons where they are playoff competitive.  Cain is not worth losing a 1st round pick for, let alone also a 4th round.

This would have good and bad effects on the roster as well.  Cain is an improvement in CF, but 2017 was his first season with over 140 games played and only his second season with over 502 plate appearances.  In his prior 3 seasons, he averaged only 125 games played.  So he might be a good hitter with good defense, but he can't do that if he's out of the lineup.  We saw that with Durham, and he was healthy before we signed him.

Getting him and Jay would mean that the OF is made up of the two of them and Pence, Span, and one of Gorkys, Mac, Parker, or Slater.   That's not necessarily negative, except as I noted above, Cain could miss significant playing time in CF.  Span is the reason we got Cain, so playing him there would be regressive, but Jay is poor in CF as well, and likely regressive too.  So that suggests the Giants would have to keep Gorkys, the only strong defensive CF of the bunch.  This would delay figuring out whether Mac, Parker or Slater can be starters for us in the future, or to further develop them.  And that is at a price of $10.5M per season for Jay ($7M per season per MLBTR, plus 50% penalty) for a bench player.

Signing Frazier would be good (covered him in a post), but also getting Kendrick, who plays 2B and LF, would basically mean that there is no use in holding onto Sandoval because then there would be no space on the bench for him, as Kendrick can't play SS, and you don't want Sandoval playing there either, so Tomlinson would have to be the other IF and Sandoval would have to be DFAed to AAA, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but is a consequence.  But is having Kendrick worth $9M per season?  ($6M per season per MLBTR, plus 50% penalty) for a bench player.

I like the idea of getting Chatwood as our 5th starter, though.  At roughly $10M (estimated 3 years for $20M plus 50% penalty), that's not bad for a 5th starter, though that would mean that both Blach and Stratton would have some development opportunities pushed back, as well as potentially Andrew Suarez and Tyler Beede.  And he has a career 3.31 ERA on the road, which is pretty good, though would note mostly in SF, LA, SD, three pitchers parks to varying degrees.  But he would still need to pitch in Colorado and Arizona.  With a 95 MPH pitch, but low K/9 and high BB/9, could be a buy low situation, much like Samardzija, with a high ceiling if they can combine his high ground ball rate with a high K/9 rate as well, even better if can reduce walks.

The negative is the block on our developing starters, but he would not be worth the try if our prospects were more interesting and forcing the issue.  They can be part of a deep bench of starting pitchers we have in the minors.   And seeing them in AAA another season gives us more ata on how good they are, or if 2017 was a blip.

Another negative is that this would push us over into the penalty, but only slightly if he were the only guys we acquired.  But the Giants already stated that their goals are improvements in defensive CF, a starting 3B, and an improved bullpen, and signing Chatwood would not accomplish any of those goals while also pushing us over the threshold, meaning the other three guys acquired to do these goals will be taxed at 50% penalty.  Just getting Dyson would mean at least $10M, Hamilton or Kiermaier is around the same money and would cost in prospects as well.  Same issue with the starting 3B and reliever.

Brandon Morrow is another interesting pick.  He would cost $8M per season, keeping us below the threshold, but again, the issue here is that the Giants primary goal of the off-season is getting better defensively in CF, and doing that will require a player who has a significant salary.  Signing Morrow would use up the whole remaining payroll space, and adding anyone would push the Giants above the threshold.

On top of that, he hasn't been healthy in ages, 2018 was his first full season since 2011.  Morrow just had one of his rare healthy seasons, as over his prior four seasons, he only averaged 12 games a season, five of them starts.   Moreover, the Dodgers just burned out his arm during the playoffs, who knows what the effect that will have one him.  Huge health risk at $8M per, $24M total.

Petit is also an interesting pick.  However, it ignored the fact that the Giants dumped him before when he was as good as he is now.  Presumably the Giants had a good reason for doing that, though, of course, mistakes can and will be made.  Nobody's perfect.  But three teams gave up on him and allowed him to be a free agent, and he's 33 YO in 2018.  On top of that, he would also take away a spot from Blach, Stratton, Andrew Suarez, and Beede to battle for.  I can see the Giants offering a minor league contract to someone as competition for the #5/Long Relief spots, but I don't see the Giants giving guaranteed money for Petit.

Overall, I see Frazier as the most likely one of the above happening.  But the Giants most likely will burn up the rest of their payroll before the penalty threshold on whomever they get for defensive upgrade in CF, and so signing Frazier would likely mean going into the penalty and paying $16.5M for him each season the Giants are taxed.

Otherwise, that's just too much contract money, loss of draft picks, and loss of prospect development opportunities, just looking at it objectively.  On top of that, the Giants is not likely to do this, so why throw that out there?

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