San Francisco Giants general manager Brian Sabean allocated a substantial chunk of team payroll to players who could struggle to perform up to lofty expectations next season.
The most notable questionable contract plaguing the Giants’ 2014 payroll is fan favorite Tim Lincecum, who earned a brand new two-year deal worth an excess of $35 million. “The Freak” has endured diminished production over the past two seasons and appears to be a fraction of the high-caliber pitching talent that won consecutive Cy Young Awards in ’08 and ’09.
Lincecum has posted a combined record of 20-29 since 2012 while simultaneously mounting the lowest strikeout totals of his career (190, 193). The outlandish amount of cash he’s due to make over the next two campaigns could be attributed to his marketability value in San Francisco, although jersey sales aren’t conducive of increased production on the mound.
Slugging right fielder Hunter Pence was also rewarded with a shiny new contract. Pence was electric for the Giants in 2013; he was a catalyst on a team that finished with a losing record. He posted a .283 batting average with a career-high 27 home runs while driving-in 99 runs. His standout season-long performance was an outcome of Pence’s fiery determination to be a everyday difference-maker. The 30-year-old veteran played in all 162 games for the Giants, largely contributing to a five-year deal worth $90 million.
Sabean and Co. shored up the Giants’ starting rotation by signing veteran right-handed hurler Tim Hudson, who is due to make $23 million over two seasons. Hudson owns a career 3.44 ERA over 15 seasons of work in the big leagues. He should prove to be reliable arm at the back end of the Giants’ rotation, assuming he’s able to stay healthy.
The Giants also re-signed left-handed specialist Javier Lopez to a three-year deal worth roughly $13 million. Lopez has been stellar out of the bullpen for San Francisco since being acquired before the trade deadline in 2010. He recorded a 1.83 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 39.1 innings pitched last season, making him a pivotal component of the Giants’ late-inning strategy.
San Francisco took an affordable gamble on power-hitting outfielder Michael Morse, who is expected to earn a bulk of the playing time in left field for the orange and black. Morse struggled mightily while playing in the American League last season, posting a dismal .215 batting average. The Giants inked the man nicknamed “The Beast” to a one-year, $6 million deal, which includes substantial potential for added incentives.
The culmination of re-signing key in-house free agents and adding a couple seeming upgrades has had a marginal effect on the Giants’ projected 2014 payroll. The impact of several key franchise players earning substantial pay raises is expected to push team payroll over $150 million though. Buster Posey will earn $10.5 million next season, a sizable increase over his base salary in 2013. Pablo Sandoval and Madison Bumgarner will also receive hefty pay raises in the $3 million range.
The Giants haven’t specifically mandated a payroll figure for the 2014 campaign, although it appears likely that San Francisco will become dormant in the latter stages of free agency.