The San Francisco Giants made their first big splash of the offseason already, hiring Bob Melvin away from the San Diego Padres to be their new manager back in October. After two consecutive disappointing seasons, here’s a look at the state of a club in search of identity ahead of a crucial winter for Farhan Zaidi and Co.
Giants offseason preview
Season in review
With Melvin in place, the Giants’ focus is now set upon reworking a roster that went 79-83 and faded badly down the stretch. While the pitching staff was a constant work-in-progress, the offense was the real culprit: J.D. Davis (69 RBIs) and Wilmer Flores (60) were the only players to drive in more than 60 runs, while Flores was the other person to hit more than 20 home runs. They got an incredible season from Cy Young finalist Logan Webb (3.25 ERA in 216 innings) along with a strong showing from Alex Cobb (3.87 ERA in 151.1 innings), but they just ran out of starters as the season went on, which was another big reason for their August and September swoon.
Pending free agents
OF Joc Pederson, SS Brandon Crawford, SP Alex Wood, SP/RP Jakob Junis, RP John Brebbia, RP Scott Alexander and C Roberto Pérez.
This offseason could bring about an end to Crawford’s time in the Bay Area. The 36-year-old played in just 93 games in 2023 and will likely head elsewhere so that top prospect Marco Luciano can become an everyday shortstop. Pederson accepted the Giants’ qualifying offer last offseason but will likely commend a multi-year contract from another team. Junis pitched better in the second half out of the bullpen, but it’s unclear if the Giants would want him back for a swingman role. The same can be said for the lefty Wood, who had a 4.33 ERA in 97 innings last year.
Center field and shortstop — and, more broadly, at least one big name after years of swinging and missing on a superstar. President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has already said that those are the two areas he’s looking at in the offseason, which lines up with his previous statements where he said he wanted to build a more athletic team. They’ll likely look towards adding a starting pitcher or two as well, but building up in the middle and providing this lineup with a shot in the arm appear to be the main focus.
Best free-agent fits
Cody Bellinger is the prize. Bellinger is the top bat on the market after slashing .307/.356/.525 with 26 home runs and 97 RBIs in 2023, and should be in line for a nine-figure contract this offseason -- it’s just a matter of figuring out if that contract will come from the Giants or not. If San Francisco chooses not to go after Bellinger, then they might shift their focus towards glove-first options like Harrison Bader, Kevin Kiermaier or Michael A. Taylor.
Things get a little dicer when you move to the infield, as that market leaves a lot to be desired. Tim Anderson and Amed Roario are both free agents, but they’re coming off tough years and likely project as second basemen in the future. One name to look at is former Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Matt Chapman, who just nabbed his fourth career Gold Glove. While Chapman struggled as the season went on, he’s a former All-Star who played in Oakland with Melvin, and could immediately slide into the hot corner while kicking J.D. Davis to first or a full-time DH role.
If the Giants are serious about getting better in the outfield, then it might be worth calling the Red Sox to see what it would take to get Alex Verdugo, who is reportedly on the trading block. While Verdugo’s had an up-and-down tenure in Boston (he’s been benched twice and seemingly remains in Alex Cora’s doghouse), he’s the type of young, athletic outfielder that the team needs more of. They could also call the Padres up about Juan Soto, but I can’t imagine they’d trade him within the division. This seems like a team that’ll be built through free agency, and hopefully it’ll be a bit more fruitful than their runs at Aaron Judge and Carlos Correa last winter.