Rebuilding has been all the rage in recent years, but don't tell that to the Giants.San Francisco is looking to bounce back from a 98-loss season in 2017, the worst by a Giants team since 1985. But rather than overreacting to the last-place finish by launching a massive rebuild, San
Rebuilding has been all the rage in recent years, but don't tell that to the Giants.
San Francisco is looking to bounce back from a 98-loss season in 2017, the worst by a Giants team since 1985. But rather than overreacting to the last-place finish by launching a massive rebuild, San Francisco decided to supplement the roster, trading for former All-Stars Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen.
Executive vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean hopes that message resonated loud and clear inside the team's clubhouse.
"From a players' standpoint, we didn't raise the red flag and tear it apart," said Sabean. "We stood by what we've been saying -- that while the year was a horrific season, it's not because we had bad players, necessarily. There were bad performances, and we had a bad year in total. But when you look across the room and you know what's on the back of people's baseball cards, it gives you a sense of confidence.
"I would hope that they think we're doubling down on what we have as a core with what we added from the outside to make it that much stronger."
The Giants haven't been hesitant to spend big in recent years, opening each of the past three seasons with payrolls ranging from $170 million to $180 million. That number could approach $200 million this season, thanks to the additions of Longoria and McCutchen.
But the bulk of the roster is locked up for several years, leaving the Giants with $128 million committed to 10 players in 2019 -- even with Hunter Pence and McCutchen set to become free agents at the end of the season. That number will likely swell to $140 million, thanks to the team's $12 million option on Madison Bumgarner, who can become a free agent after the '19 campaign.
Sabean -- who spoke with MLB.com last week before Bumgarner suffered the broken left pinkie that will sideline him for six to eight weeks -- believes there's "mutual interest" between Bumgarner and the team to keep the lefty in San Francisco, though no talks have been initiated by either side.
Whether Bumgarner remains with the Giants or moves on after 2019, they already have $124 million committed to seven players for the '20 season: Buster Posey, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Brandon Belt, Longoria, Brandon Crawford and Mark Melancon.
With so much money locked up in the core of the club, does San Francisco have any choice but to build around the group rather than ripping it apart?
What happens during the upcoming season could be a determining factor.
"It remains to be seen," Sabean said. "We need to find out how  turns out first, how we regroup therein, because we do have some moving pieces. There's a big decision, perhaps, coming on Bumgarner, who has this year and '19. McCutchen is a free agent at the end of the year.
"It might be an open book. You hope, especially with our lineup and position players, that the addition of McCutchen, Longoria will lengthen and strengthen our lineup. The guys that we consider to be our core need to have good years for us to further evaluate them and see if they stay as our core. I think we'll have a lot more information at the end of this year."
Sabean also pointed to the Giants' system, specifically naming Steven Duggar, Chris Shaw, Tyler Beede and Andrew Suarez as "exciting kids" who are on the cusp of contributing at the Major League level.
"That goes a long way toward balancing the books, so to speak," Sabean said.
Could the Giants jump into next offseason's free-agent market to further supplement their current core? Sabean won't discount that possibility, though he noted that California's hefty state taxes and distance from the East Coast have proven to be detrimental factors when it comes to luring big-name free agents to San Francisco.
"We haven't shied away from the market," Sabean said. "I will say, though, in recent times, it's been difficult to reel in free agents."
Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001.