The offensively inept San Francisco Giants somehow remain in playoff contention, despite dropping 22 of their last 29 home games. They’re currently mired in a five-game losing streak and are now just five games over the .500 mark for the first time since Apr. 29. The Giants’ failures throughout the 2014 MLB season can be mostly attributed to their defunct offense, which has scored a pathetic total of nine runs during their current slide.
General manager Brian Sabean brightly stood pat at the non-waiver trade deadline, essentially admitting the current on-the-field product isn’t going to suddenly become World Series-caliber with the addition of a rental player. It’s very possible for the orange and black to back into the Wild Card game this October, although Sabean seemingly has his sights set on this offseason, which will be one of the most important roster construction periods of his 18-year tenure.
The Giants are supplanted in a difficult spot. After stunning the baseball world to win their second championship in a span of three seasons in 2012, CEO Larry Baer dubbed this point in time the “golden age” of Giants baseball. If that’s true, the organization’s brain-trust must make a candid effort to win at least one more title.
San Francisco no longer flaunts a clear path to the postseason, given the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ aggressive efforts at not only reclaiming the NL West for the foreseeable future, but also overtaking the Giants as the most successful West Coast team of this decade. The reality of the matter is that Sabean needs the club’s board of investors to approve enough of a payroll increase to enable the longest tenured GM in baseball to build a team capable of consistently beating the Dodgers.
At the moment, that doesn’t seem likely, courtesy of a $20 million annual mortgage on AT&T Park.
Sabean must decide whether to use a gigantic chunk of limited payroll this offseason to re-sign third baseman Pablo Sandoval. The 2012 World Series MVP is going to command a hefty contract that could exceed $100 million, which would theoretically force the Giants to back off, considering they already owe roughly $127 million to 13 players under contract for 2015.
If Sandoval walks, acquiring a difference-maker in left field will become the Giants’ top priority. The steady ascension of rookie Joe Panik at second base and the bleak alternatives at third base will make those positions second tier.
The Giants will likely take a pass on Melky Cabrera strictly because of his sudden suspension from the club in 2012, although the former Giants left fielder has posted solid numbers in 2014 for the Toronto Blue Jays, slashing a .317/.372/.479 batting line. If the Giants choose not to consider Cabrera as a potential option, Cuban outfielder Yasmani Tomas will become the club’s best chance at replacing Sandoval’s offensive production.
According to MLB.com, the 23-year-old defected from Cuba in June and is expected to be signed at some point during the upcoming offseason. Tomas showcased his talents at the 2013 World Baseball Classic, going 6-for-16 with three extra-base hits, including two home runs. According to Baseball America, Tomas recorded a .289 average with 15 home runs in 324 plate appearances over 81 games in the 2012-13 Serie Nacional regular season.
The Giants don’t often engage in competitive spending when it comes to international free agents, but they have seemingly become more active in scouting overseas talent. The Giants signed Cuban OF Daniel Carbonell and added him to their 40-man roster just four days before Tomas defected.
Carbonell flaunts some upside, but he isn’t a prolific talent like Tomas — at least he’s not supposed to be. Tomas isn’t necessarily a sure thing either, but he’s a better alternative to the gag-me platoon of Gregor Blanco and Juan Perez. The Giants need to avoid the latter at all costs.