The Giants’ deep rotation remains intact for 2013, unless…
Editor’s Note: Baseball News Source has provided a division-by-division series that address what teams might do this off-season in the American League and in the National League East and NL Central. Here is our outlook on the NL West to finalize the series.
Even though Tim Lincecum struggled with a 10-15 record and a 5.18 ERA during the regular season, the San Francisco Giants used solid pitching and timely hitting to capture the National League West title and then rally from a 2-0 deficit in the NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds and a 3-1 hole versus the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series.
The Giants’ deep rotation remains intact for 2013, unless the club decides to trade an arm for a bat. San Francisco must decide whether or not to bring back outfielders Melky Cabrera and NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro as well as closer Brian Wilson, who missed the 2012 season because of injury but can become a free agent.
As for the competition, the new ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers appears poised to spend even more money after acquiring Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford did not yield a playoff berth this season.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are rich in existing starting pitching (Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill, Wade Miley and Patrick Corbin) and starting pitching prospects (like Trevor Bauer, Tyler Skaggs and Archie Bradley).
The Colorado Rockies are facing a significant rebuilding project which could be facilitated by potential manager Jason Giambi while the San Diego Padres are under new ownership and are reportedly willing to increase payroll while retaining core players like Chase Headley (unless another team makes a trade offer that Padres’ officials cannot refuse).
Even if the Giants win their second World Series in three years, they will face a myriad of off-season decisions.
Barry Zito ($20 million in 2013 with 18 million in 2014 or a $7 million buyout) and Lincecum ($22 million in 2013, the last year of his deal) could be traded. Cabrera was on pace to win the NL MVP before he was suspended for using synthetic testosterone. He will be a free agent and the Giants are reportedly not interested in retaining him.
Scutaro is one of the few appealing middle infielders on the free agent market, so San Francisco could bring him back. Aubrey Huff will see his $10 million option declined in favor of a $2 million buyout. Angel Pagan can become a free agent and he represents a productive yet less expensive option than Michael Bourn and B.J. Upton.
The Giants, who could also use an upgrade in left field, will be candidates for Bourn, Upton and even a potential trade partner with Boston should the Red Sox decide to deal Jacoby Ellsbury during the offseason.
It will be interesting to see if San Francisco signs Wilson to a new contract and returns him to the closer’s role because Sergio Romo has been effective this year.
Matt Kemp, who is rehabbing from shoulder surgery, and Andre Ethier are signed long term; Crawford (who underwent Tommy John surgery) is expected to join the Dodgers outfield next May; and the club will have a full season of Gonzalez at first base and Ramirez at shortstop.
Offense should not be a concern in LA next season, but the Dodgers could use upgrades in the rotation to accompany ace Clayton Kershaw and Beckett. Top prospect Zach Lee could be Major League ready, and the trio of Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang are under contract, but expect LA to pursue free agent Zack Greinke.
The team is not likely to re-sign Victorino since the outfield will feature Ethier, Kemp and Crawford. Joe Blanton will not be brought back. The new ownership group is also likely to spend for upgrades at third base and catcher.
Since they are deep in starting pitching, the Diamondbacks main need is the lineup, especially at shortstop. Since Adam Eaton was impressive in his short stint with Arizona – and the club also also top prospect A.J. Pollock – the Diamondbacks could deal an outfielder like Justin Upton Gerardo Parra or Jason Kubel to land a shortstop.
For months, speculation has centered around Arizona shipping Upton to the Texas Rangers for shortstop Elvis Andrus. That is a possibility this offseason since the Rangers have uber prospect Jurickson Profar poised to take over at shortstop and they will have a need in the outfield since they are unlikely to re-sign Josh Hamilton.
Young slugger Paul Goldschmidt occupies first base, the revitalized Aaron Hill is stationed at second base and trade acquisition Chris Johnson thrived in his late-season stint at the hot corner in Arizona. Johnson could be trade bait with the presence at top third base prospect Matt Davidson almost Major League ready. The Diamondbacks are set at catcher with Miguel Montero.
Though the Padres signed left fielder Carlos Quentin to a long-term deal, it was considered a given that they would trade Chase Headley this offseason – until the new ownership group arrived, that is. Headley embarked upon an MVP-caliber season and though he still could be traded if he yields an attractive package of Major League ready players, chances are he will remain in San Diego.
The Padres could replace Headley with top prospect Jeff Gyorko, but there is talk that Gyorko will be inserted into the 2013 lineup at second base. San Diego has the makings of a productive llineup with Quentin, Headley, Cameron Maybin, Will Venable, Everth Cabrera, Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal. Everyone in the lineup will benefit from the news that the team will move in the outfield fences at Petco Park.
The club has said it will upgrade the rotation during the offseason. Clayton Richard and Edinson Volquez are effective arms but the Padres lack a true ace. Top prospects Casey Kelly and Andrew Cashner are promising. San Diego is unlikely to get involved in the bidding for Greinke, but it could pursue a starter like Edwin Jackson.
Giambi appears to be the favorite to land the Rockies’ managerial vacancy. If he is the next skipper, he will need an abundance of patience because Colorado is one of the worst franchises in Major League Baseball talent wise.
The club expects the return of a healthy Troy Tulowitzki and Eric Young Jr. in 2013. Both core players missed long stretches of 2012 because of injuries. The outfield of Carlos Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler, Michael Cuddyer and Tyler Colvin gives the Rockies a trade chip, which is most likely Fowler.
Catcher Wilin Rosario slugged 28 home runs as a rookie, and Colorado also received solid contributions from young players like Jordan Pacheco, Josh Rutledge, Chris Nelson and D.J. LeMahieu. Nolan Arenado, a third baseman, is one of the top prospects in the majors.
As usual, for the Rockies the issue is a lack of effective pitching. Top prospects Drew Pomeranz and Alex White, who were acquired from Cleveland in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, have not realized their potential. Jhoulys Chacin hopes to be at full health by spring training and the club must decide whether or not to bring back Jorge De La Rosa.