Barry Zito

Giants free agency predictions: did we underspend?

Madison Bumgarner SF Giants World Series Parade 2014

I got this tweet in response to my post from Friday, in which I predicted what I thought the Giants would do in free agency.

Putting baseball teams together is expensive (although these teams can all totally afford it). On that note, thanks to @peterjo93477435 for supplying a cheap idea for another post!

2014 San Francisco Giants payroll

Cot’s Baseball Contracts has their 2014 Opening Day payroll at $149,089,475.

Spotrac compiled their total payroll, including base salary, incentives and signing bonuses for everyone on the 40-man roster, along with “dead money.” That includes players they picked up along the way, like Jake Peavy, and the total they came up with was $178,293,112. However, they had Barry Zito getting $18,000,000, when the Giants actually declined that option and paid him a $7,000,000 buyout instead. So that total — if correct, and I have my doubts since they screwed up the Zito thing — is $167,293,112.

2015 San Francisco Giants payroll obligations

14 players (Matt Cain, Hunter Pence, Tim Lincecum, Buster Posey, Tim Hudson, Angel Pagan, Madison Bumgarner, Marco Scutaro, Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez, Joaquin Arias, Travis Ishikawa and Hector Sanchez) are owed $128,827,777 in 2015. Daniel Carbonell is owed $350K, for a grand total of $129,177,777 for about half of an Opening Day roster.

2015 arbitration eligible players

There were six, and the Giants tendered contracts to all of them. MLB Trade Rumors has the estimates:

  • Gregor Blanco (4.164) – $3.5MM
  • Yusmeiro Petit (4.016) – $1.6MM
  • Brandon Belt (3.128) – $3.4MM
  • Travis Ishikawa (4.012) – $800K (signed for $1.1MM)
  • Brandon Crawford (3.094) – $2.5MM
  • Hector Sanchez (2.166) – $1.0MM (signed for $800K)

Blanco + Petit + Belt + Crawford = $11,000,000 (That’s $140,177,777 for 17 players, plus Scutaro and Carbonell)

Minimum salary players

This can include Jean Machi, George Kontos, Hunter Strickland, Matt Duffy, Joe Panik, Andrew Susac, Ehire Adrianza, Juan Perez or Gary Brown. Let’s say Machi, Strickland, Panik, Susac and Perez make the team for argument’s sake, with Sanchez starting the year on the 60-day DL. That’s another $2.5 million, pushing the payroll to $142,677,777 with 21 players on the Opening Day roster.

Free agent estimates

It’s impossible to know how much each free agent will sign for. The best I can do — and I admit, this is far from scientific — is to take CBS Sports’ top 50 free agents story, which has three different estimates for each player — one each from Jon Heyman, an agent and a general manager. Their predictions have been fairly close so far, with more underestimates than overestimates on the top free agents who’ve already signed.

I predicted that the Giants would end up with Jake Peavy, Jed Lowrie, Alex Rios and Rafael Soriano (go here to find out why).

(The following player descriptions are Heyman’s)

19. Jed Lowrie, SS: He’s better than he showed in 2013, when injuries curtailed his performance. That he plays a premium position, hit 31 home runs between 2013 and ’14 and has no draft-pick attachment will help. Agent: 3 years, $28M. GM: 3 years, $30M. Me:3 years, $27M. (Average: $9,444,444 per season)

23. Jake Peavy, SP: It’s pretty apparent he should stay in the National League, and probably in San Francisco. Interesting career; he was a superstar for also-rans for a long time until the past two years, when he was a complementary pitcher for world champs.Agent: 2 years, $25M. GM: 3 years, $35M. Me: 2 years, $26M. (Average: $12,388,889 per season)

30. Alex Rios , OF: Injuries kept him from hitting home runs in the second half last season after a very solid first half. Rios is a useful all-around player, but bad timing. Agent: 1 year, $10M. GM: 1 year, $10M. Me: 2 years, $20M. (Average: $10,000,000 per season)

32. Rafael Soriano, RP: Another one with a schizophrenic season: dominant in the first half, poor in the second half (until a very nice postseason). Agent: 2 years, $13.5M. GM: 1 year, $8M. Me: 2 years, $16M. (Average: $7,583,333 per season)

Total estimate for all four free agents in 2015: $39,416,666


My projected roster (25-man roster plus Scutaro and Sanchez) would have an Opening Day payroll of $182,094,443.

That’s $33 million above their 2014 Opening Day payroll, and almost $15,000,000 more than their total payroll from last season (according to Spotrac). My 2015 Opening Day payroll doesn’t include a host of other 40-man roster guys, unlike the 2014 Spotrac figure. Plus, there’s a good chance Brian Sabean will ask the executive committee to add more payroll in the middle of the season, when he looks to add talent before the trade deadline.

  • Maybe the four free agents I predicted can be had for cheaper.
  • Maybe one or more of those FA contracts are backloaded.
  • Maybe the Giants don’t sign a SP, 3B, LF AND a RP.
  • Maybe Kenta Maeda gets posted! (He’s the pitcher they should get, if possible.)
  • Maybe the Giants sign cheaper free agents (like Ryan Vogelsong instead of Peavy and Emilio Bonifacio instead of Lowrie).

Another way of looking at it …

$32.8MM coming off the books (departures of Sandoval/Romo/Vogelsong/Morse, plus buyouts for Zito and Vogelsong)

$18.6MM in raises ($2.5M for Pence, $6M for Posey, $1M for Lincecum, $3M for Bumgarner, $1M for Hudson, $500K for Casilla, $300K for Arias … estimated $500K for Belt, $1M for Blanco, $800K for Petit and $2M for Crawford)

$39.4MM for free agents (estimated)

That’s not a complete picture, and there are obvious problems with the estimated dollars going to free agents who haven’t signed with anyone yet. Yet this exercise gives you an idea of what the Giants — who generally don’t increase their payroll by more than 10% year-over-year — are dealing with. In fact, the current payroll obligations make one wonder what else the Giants would’ve done in free agency had they landed Jon Lester (who reportedly turned down a Giants offer in the neighborhood of $24MM per season).

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