The San Francisco Giants aren’t exactly stingy in dishing out big money to players capable of having a positive impact, but future payroll allocations could potentially detract the team from maintaining a competitive mindset on the open market. The Giants are in the midst of a power struggle with the arch-rival Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West. The Dodgers are officially the biggest spenders in baseball, ending a 15-year reign by the New York Yankees. While the Giants refuse to nickel and dime their way to contention, they don’t boast the resources needed to consistently field a product on level with the suddenly surging Dodgers.
According to Deadspin, the Giants rank seventh in overall team payroll for the 2014 season, spending a modest $154.2 million. That figure doesn’t even compare to the Dodgers’ ridiculous cash output of $235.2 million. Money assuredly doesn’t buy championships, but the Yankees captured three rings during their stint as baseball’s biggest spenders, dating back to 1999. The Dodgers are hoping the deep pockets of their revitalized ownership group can influence similar results for the city of Los Angeles, which hasn’t enjoyed a World Series title since 1988.
The Giants have won four pennants and two championships since the Dodgers’ most recent moment of triumph. They grappled a dominant choke-hold in what is arguably the best rivalry in baseball after winning the 2012 World Series but have recently taken a backseat to the Dodgers, who have the infrastructure and stability needed to sustain a high level of success over a prolonged period of time. Although spending power is the overwhelming factor in determining the Dodgers’ ability to consistently contend, they also feature a more competent farm system than San Francisco.
The Giants’ recent success was heavily influenced by homegrown talent. The core of their team is a product of the first-year player draft. From 2006 to 2009, the Giants’ scouting department did an extraordinary job of drafting players who fast-tracked their way through the minor league ranks. Several of those players, namely Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum, now make up a significant chunk of future payroll. The Giants rank third in baseball in that category, owing current players a combined $400 million.
San Francisco’s group of investors could be on the verge of capping future payroll allocations, indicated by a stalemate with current third baseman and fan favorite Pablo Sandoval, who is reportedly asking for a $90 million contract, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. It should be noted that Sandoval’s representation perceives that figure as a mere starting point, which means a big season for the “Kung Fu Panda” could push that number well over $100 million. The Giants don’t possess a player in their farm system capable of taking over for Sandoval and mirroring his average production at the plate next season. It’s a serious cause for concern, especially considering the Giants’ on-going struggles to post high run totals on a season-to-season basis.
The Giants flaunt one of the best ballparks in baseball and one of the most devout fanbases in the game. They’re a class act organization from top to bottom, but that doesn’t change the fact that Los Angeles holds an edge in terms of both developing talent and signing free agents, which is why the Dodgers have become hands-down favorites to win the NL West. The Giants understand that championships aren’t won on paper, though. They’re an underdog boasting enough talent to prove doubters wrong yet again in 2014 but will be hard-pressed to repeat that feat in seasons to come.