Ray trade opens more avenues for Giants

noreply@blogger.com (Trevor Cole)

 Over the last month, the Giants have handed out their largest free agent contract and also swung their biggest trade during the Farhan Zaidi era. Both are nice steps in the right direction but may take a little time to yield fruitful results. 

As we stand, a week into the new year, I would say this team is pretty equal to the one that finished below .500 last year.

I do think the Jung-Hoo Lee signing will wind up a good one at the end of the day. I know they had to go a little higher than his projected price tag heading into the offseason, but with the way the free agent market is inflating, we may look back in two years and realize the Giants got a bargain with this.

Of course, Lee will have to pan out here for that to happen but it’s a risk this team needed to take. It’s true that the KBO is equivalent to the talent level of the mid-minor leagues in America, but Lee dominated there. He’s a 25 year-old with high-end contact skills, good speed and good defense. Those should translate. Plus we’re seeing minor league guys like Jackson Chourio land big, multi-year deals as well who’ve never played at the major league level either. It’s simply the direction the league is moving.

We just may need to be patient with him.

People like to compare Lee to Ha-Seong Kim, his friend and teammate in Korea. Kim hit for much more power than Lee in Korea but Kim was never a batting champion like Lee was and doesn’t possess quite the contact skills. That being said, it took Kim about a year to really settle in here, so we cannot panic if we look up in June and Lee isn’t hitting .300. I expect him to contribute in year one for sure, but I don’t think we’ll see his full potential until he gets 500 at-bats at this level.

Robbie Ray is another player who’s impact won’t be seen until at least the latter part of this season.

I absolutely love this trade. What is there not to like? Anthony Desclafini was dead weight. He couldn’t stay healthy and hasn’t been productive since the first half of 2021. He was a serious candidate to be DFA’d before the year, a la Tommy LaStella. 

Mitch Haniger maybe wasn’t maybe quite on that DFA bubble like Desclafini, but I think the Giants would have happily dealt him away to any team willing to help eat some of his contract. When he was on the field last year, his defense was sub-par in left and he was extremely underwhelming at the plate. He’s become a guy who’s tough to play vs. right-handed pitching and you just can’t pay a guy $17M a year to be a weak-side platoon bat.

The Giants took two players who were basically clogging up spots on the major league roster and turned them into a starting pitcher with Cy Young credentials. Like with their newly signed outfielder though, we have to be patient while waiting for this move to pay off.

Robbie Ray is on the comeback from Tommy John surgery, and probably isn’t being counted to impact the 2024 season a whole lot, at least until July at the earliest. For that reason, some fans were left a little confused about the direction of this deal, but I don’t think anyone can argue the reasoning and logic in it. 

I understand that people are yearning for additions that will make immediate impacts and that we can get excited about for the start of the season, but this shouldn’t preclude them from doing that. Their payroll sits exactly where it did before this deal, and with Ray likely going onto the 60-day IL, it opens two spots on that projected opening day roster.

Ray will be owed about $50 million over ’25-’26, so there is that to account for. He does have an opt-out option after this season, but that would seem like a risky move on his end unless he comes back earlier than expected and returns to his top-form immediately.

This move doesn’t change the landscape of the 2024 team all that much. If all goes well, it will be like adding a high-end starter around the trade deadline. They can still partake in the top-end of the free agent market before then, however.

There are increasing reports that the Giants are one of two finalists for Japanese left-hander Shota Imanaga. That wouldn’t surprise me. It would also feed into the narrative that the Giants’ offseason moves thus far will likely benefit them most starting in 2025. Imanaga, like Lee, will probably take a little bit of time to adjust to his new settings, although it’s historically been easier for pitchers to make a quicker impact.

I still would like to see them in on Snell. The Giants’ best way to be competitive in this division in the immediate future will be through high-end pitching and defense. Imagine a rotation of Webb-Snell-Ray-Cobb-Harrison if they’re in the playoff hunt come August. 

Whether it’s Snell, Imanaga, Marcus Stroman and/or another trade, I’m all for adding as many quality arms to this rotation as possible.

The dealing of Haniger also, hypothetically, frees up an outfield spot. Granted, they still have a bit of a logjam out there with their returning veterans and a couple of their young players they want to find more playing time for, this move makes it at least possible to add a bat out there if they want. 

Cody Bellinger is the best hitter on the market, and while he certainly comes with major risk, he kinda fits in that direction that the Giants may need to head in. They need to take some risks in free agency and if they want to be players in the market in future offseasons, they have to start somewhere. Bellinger is a 28 year-old with MVP pedigree. He plays terrific outfield defense as well as first base. Perfectly fits into Farhan’s plan to get younger, more athletic and better defensively. The $200 million question is whether or not he’s completely over his ’21-’22 downfall? He certainly looked like it last season.

I’m kind of in the middle on Bellinger. In a vacuum, I could get on board if they got him. If that means a 10+ years and $250 million, I’d be skeptical. If they can get the price tag below $200M, go for it.

The idea of Matt Chapman doesn’t thrill me too much. Would he help the team in 2024? Yes. However, Bellinger has more upside and the chance to contribute longer with a higher impact and ceiling.

Between the names mentioned above and the handful of trade options, there are still options for this team. Maybe they continue with the thought in mind of beefing up for 2025 and go out and add Brandon Woodruff. There are still a number of ways this offseason could go and we’re entering that stretch run where we’ll have our answers here sooner than later.

[email protected] (Trevor Cole) giantsbaseballblog.blogspot.com

2024-01-09 00:14:00 , The Giants Baseball Blog

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