The 2018 San Francisco Giants would have been a great team in 2013. But it isn’t 2013, and the Giants, who this offseason have traded for Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria, are in odd shape as they try to escape a payroll, personnel, and farm system crisis.
The Giants are in one of the league’s weirdest predicaments. They have enviable talent, possibly a window of contention still open, a jammed-up division, a bloated payroll filled with aging and declining stars they probably can’t trade off, a thinning farm system, and a never-ending hole in a critical spot in the outfield.
As of now, they have the second-highest payroll in the league for 2018. They’re below the luxury tax threshold, but the future is coming on fast, and they don’t look positioned to start a full rebuild or jump back into contention via free-agent signings.
Currently, FanGraphs projects the 2018 Giants to be an 84-win team, second in the division behind the Dodgers and fifth in the N.L. That’s an extra 20 wins over the wretched 2017 team, which was hampered by injuries but also deeply uninspiring. Pessimists can rightly scoff at the team for bringing in two aging superstars for the purpose of grinding towards mediocrity, but there’s value in the team being able to put good and interesting players on the field for a whole season. McCutchen and Longoria are two of the most accomplished and universally respected players in the game, and the thought of them being in the same lineup, even in their declining states, is an exciting one.
They are more than two big names away from plugging up all gaping holes in the starting lineup, and the payroll situation will have to be dealt with eventually, but an upgrade is an upgrade, and they should at least give fans a reason to watch this season.