Even as they were headed for their worst season in more than three decades, the Giants mostly stood pat last summer, opting not to become sellers and begin a massive rebuilding project.Instead, San Francisco went all-in this past offseason, adding Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria to a core that had
Even as they were headed for their worst season in more than three decades, the Giants mostly stood pat last summer, opting not to become sellers and begin a massive rebuilding project.
Instead, San Francisco went all-in this past offseason, adding Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria to a core that had tasted great success in recent years, winning three World Series titles this decade.
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"From a players standpoint, we didn't raise the red flag and tear [the team] apart," Brian Sabean, the executive VP of baseball operations, said this past March. "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."
The gamble paid off. The Giants entered Tuesday at 45-41, only 2 1/2 games behind the first-place D-backs in the National League West and two games out of an NL Wild Card spot. San Francisco ranks ninth in the NL in both runs scored and ERA, and although its roster could use a tune-up here and there like virtually every other contender, it appears any changes will be coming from the disabled list rather than outside acquisitions.
"Staying out of the [Competitive Balance Tax] is a must," said a source familiar with the Giants' thinking. "They'll have a better feel for what they need at the [All-Star] break, but they may very well have to move money to add money."
The Giants' payroll is teetering right around the $197 million Competitive Balance Tax threshold, making it difficult for Sabean and general manager Bobby Evans to add players between now and July 31.
The biggest "additions" could come in the form of starters Johnny Cueto (elbow) and Jeff Samardzija (shoulder), who are both on rehab assignments and approaching a return from the DL. Longoria and reliever Hunter Strickland aren't expected back for another 4-6 weeks.
"They need to get healthy and stay healthy," the source said. "The DL has killed them this year."
Hunter Pence ($18.5 million) and McCutchen ($14.75 million) are slated to become free agents at the end of the season, freeing up some payroll space for the Giants to go after a big free agent such as Bryce Harper -- a long rumored target. That brings us back to the CBT issue, however, as San Francisco wants to stay under the threshold in order to reset their tax rate from 50 percent to 20 percent.
There's also the matter of Madison Bumgarner, who has a team-friendly $12 million option in 2019 before becoming a free agent after next season. Assuming they want to retain their ace, the Giants will need to dole out another nine-figure contract to keep Bumgarner in the Bay Area.
Even without Bumgarner, the Giants already have $124 million committed to seven players for the 2020 season: Cueto, Samardzija, Longoria, Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford and Mark Melancon.
Mark Feinsand is an executive reporter for MLB.com.