At The Giants Cove we try to hold the San Francisco Giants to the highest professional sports franchise standards. Because someone has to make the effort.
The team’s ownership group and front office executives give lip-service to creating a championship organization; most of the fanbase is typically focused on the latest colorful player story; and the local baseball media regurgitates whatever story-lines the front office feeds them.
So when the Giants make a truly positive move, as in the trade of starting pitcher Matt Moore to the Texas Rangers, it’s important to acknowledge that and discuss the trade’s implications.
There are two things we know regarding the Moore trade.
First, San Francisco immediately freed up $9 million in 2018 salary (plus a $750,000 2019 buyout).
And, Matt Moore and his nasty 2017 numbers (1.532 WHIP, 5.52 ERA, only 148 SO in 174.1 IP) will not be making 32 starts for the San Francisco Giants in 2018.
It’s a huge addition-by-subtraction move for the Giants rotation.
Moore will likely be replaced in 2018 by either Chris Stratton, Ty Blach, or Tyler Beede for a mere $545,000. So that additional $8.4 million immediately provides the front office a little more wiggle room in front of the luxury tax line of death.
The Giants front office is currently battling two unbending forces: MLB’s $197 million luxury tax penalty wall, and the team’s need to replace at least four starting players on their 25-man roster before Opening Day.
That deal with Texas was all about shedding payroll right now.
Second, Matt Moore’s epic fail in 2017 could also cost the Giants more money in the long term.
On the payroll sheet, Moore filled the 5th starter’s spot for a mere $9 million. If he had just performed at the NL average for pitchers (1.35 WHIP, 4.34 ERA) Moore’s deal would have been a bargain.
But the extra 1.18 runs per nine innings, not helped by his poor SO/BB ratio, were serious deal-breakers.
If one of the Giants’ league-minimum replacements for Moore doesn’t pan out, San Francisco will have to replace Moore a second time, maybe with another trade. And that cash-back gain they just got in the trade with Texas starts to disappear.
So now that the Giants have taken a positive step in dealing Matt Moore, it’s time to try and shed several more contracts.
This is the time to trade starter Jeff Samardzija. For whatever you can get.
The Giants will pay Samardzija $18 million in 2018, and in 2019, and in 2020– $54 million total (plus another $4.5m signing bonus @ $1.5m a year).
This is exactly the kind of bungled, onerous long-term contract that’s absolutely dragging the San Francisco Giants down right now. And they have a bunch of damaging salary commitments, several stretching into 2021. (Thanks to Cot’s/Baseball Prospectus.)
These five marginal, or soon to be marginal, Giants players have a total of $200 million still owed to them:
- Denard Span – a minimum of $12 million (which includes a $3 million 2019 buyout).
- Hunter Pence – $18.5 million in 2018.
- Brandon Crawford – $60 million ($15 million, 2018-2021); full no trade protection.
- Mark Melancon – $38 million (2018-20); full no trade protection.
- Brandon Belt – $64 million (2018-2021).
- Matt Cain – a $7.5 million contract buyout in 2018; formally marginal and likely the worst player contract in Giants history.
Jeff Samardzija’s contract brings that total up to over $258 million.
By dealing Samardzija, Giants GM Bobby Evans would not only be subtracting another mediocre performing starter (two years in SF: 4.12 ERA in 64 starts, 411 IP with 372 SO), he could put another dent in the team’s paralyzing player contract commitments.
The bottom line message for the San Francisco Giants front office? Don’t stop now—keep trading!