A loss to the San Diego Padres on Wednesday drops the San Francisco Giants to 53-82. At this stage in the season, the verdict on the Giants was handed in long ago. The Giants must now set their sights on next season. There is a long road ahead, with more question marks than periods.
Are the Giants willing to give up pieces to rebuild? There are concerns about 30-year old catcher, Buster Posey’s, ability to play catcher over the course of a full season, but that should not merit shipping what continues to be a cornerstone player. Nonetheless, Jeff Samardzija, Matt Cain, Hunter Pence, and others all pose the same problem: age and injuries have diminished their value to the club, while also hurting their trade stock. Investing in win-now player contracts has handicapped Giants GM Bobby Evans’ flexibility to either immediately improve or unload the team, despite clear intentions to do so. It will ultimately be made clear very early in the off-season where ownership envisions their team ending up next season: continuing to bolster the roster through acquisitions of Justin Upton-types will indicate a continued win-now mentality. On the other hand, do not be surprised if they go the way of a fire sale. The way the 2017 season has gone, not many players are safe.
Look for some key team-option decisions to be made this off-season. These include Matt Cain and Matt Moore, who have both demonstrated problems with consistency. Equally noteworthy, players like Mike Morse might fetch more than they are worth as they enter free agency. Now more than ever, the Giants need to maximize production for cost.
During the team’s championship years of 2010, 2012, and 2014, former Giants GM Brian Sabean could have been called masterful the way he pulled a team together. Sabean’s ability to make surprising, yet productive acquisitions stands out in every one of those championship campaigns.
Brian Sabean has been with the team since 1997, and had winning records in 13 of Sabean’s 18 seasons as general manager. Following his promotion, Sabean was replaced by Bobby Evans, who served as Sabean’s assistant for some years prior. The question becomes what Bobby Evans’ role with the team means for the shakedown of the roster. Is Evans willing to part ways with a Dan Uggla to make space for a Matt Duffy? Is there even a Matt Duffy to be found in the farm system? The Giants are currently sixth in the league in salary spending, though the production has not lived up to it. As Evans goes into the off-season with the team likely to earn its first losing record since he took over, his priorities and decisions will determine the course of the team for some time to come.