The Giants’ offseason hasn’t necessarily been inactive, but it also hardly hasn’t played out as many fans would’ve expected when president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi kicked off the winter by stating a need to think differently, specifically with regard to the team’s roster construction.
The Giants made one big splash with their December signing of star KBO outfielder Jung Hoo Lee on a six-year deal, but the rest of their additions have been smaller scale in nature. Jordan Hicks, the hardest-throwing reliever on the market, was signed to a four-year deal. The Giants, despite having just one dependable source of innings (ace Logan Webb), plan to stretch the oft-injured Hicks out as a starter. Last year’s 65 2/3 innings were his most since a career-high 77 2/3 frames as a rookie in 2018. San Francisco also added backup catcher Tom Murphy on a two-year deal and acquired former AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray (who’s rehabbing from Tommy John surgery) in a trade with the Mariners that dumped the contracts of Mitch Haniger and Anthony DeSclafani.
That’s a fair bit of activity, but the Giants are still teeming with questions about the composition of both the lineup and the rotation. It doesn’t appear they consider their offense to be a finished product, however. San Francisco made a “late run” at Rhys Hoskins before he signed with the Brewers, Jon Heyman of the New York Post reports. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle hears the same but cautions that their offer “wasn’t close” to the two-year, $34MM deal Hoskins inked in Milwaukee. That pact also contains an opt-out provision following the 2024 season.
While the Giants have given opt-out clauses perhaps more regularly than any other team in MLB in recent years — e.g. Haniger, Carlos Rodon, Michael Conforto, Sean Manaea, Ross Stripling — Slusser reports that the team is trying to move away from that contract mold. (Lee’s deal also contains an opt-out, though that comes after four years as opposed to the short-term nature of the others just listed.) Whether it was the lack of an opt-out or reluctance to match the years/dollars on the deal, Hoskins preferred the Brewers’ offer and will spend at least the 2024 season in Milwaukee.
The Giants may have missed on Hoskins — an all too familiar refrain for their fans — but mere interest in the longtime Phillies slugger shows that the Giants remain interested in the possibility of adding a bat to the lineup at either first base or designated hitter. The market still offers quite a few options at both positions. MLBTR’s Anthony Franco ran through some of the top unsigned first basemen earlier today (including old friend Brandon Belt), while DH types still on the market include Justin Turner, J.D. Martinez and Jorge Soler. Last year’s primary designated hitter, Joc Pederson, agreed to a one-year deal with the division-rival Diamondbacks just yesterday.
That said, Slusser also writes that third baseman Matt Chapman remains the Giants’ “top position-player target.” The 30-year-old, two-time Platinum Glove winner has ties to multiple Giants higher-ups; he was drafted by the Athletics when Zaidi was still an assistant GM in Oakland, and new Giants skipper Bob Melvin is obviously quite familiar with Chapman after managing him for the first five seasons of the third baseman’s career with the A’s. Zaidi has been focused on upgrading the team’s defense in addition to deepening his lineup, and Chapman could potentially check both boxes — particularly if he’s able to bounce back from the finger injury he sustained in the weight room in early August, which surely contributed to a disastrous finish at the plate (.183/.259/.318 over his final 139 plate appearances).
There’s still a fair bit of offseason left, but San Francisco’s options — particularly on the free agent market — have dwindled while quite a few needs remain unaddressed. The club hasn’t meaningfully upgraded its power production or added any stable innings behind Webb. The rotation behind the Cy Young runner-up is currently a hodgepodge of swingman Ross Stripling, top prospect Kyle Harrison, 26-year-old Keaton Winn (42 1/3 career innings) and the aforementioned Hicks, who’s made all of eight starts in his MLB career. Alex Cobb should be back in the first half, and Ray could return after the All-Star break, but the Giants have spent more than $165MM in free agency so far and the roster doesn’t look definitively better than it did in 2023 when they lost 83 games.