The Farhan Zaidi era has been largely defined by showing restraint on the free agency market, electing to find cheap, overlooked options as they wait for their veterans to come off the books.
That period has nearly come to pass, however, and 2022 looks like it might be the first time Zaidi throws money at a top tier player on the open market, especially after the arms race between the Dodgers and Padres reached a fever pitch this winter.
Editor-in-Chief of The Athletic, Tim Kawakami, joined Mark Willard on Wednesday night, and gave a breakdown on what the Giants’ wish list might look like. In his mind, shortstop will be where San Francisco looks to break the bank, and Francisco Lindor will be on the top of San Francisco and everybody else’s list, including the Dodgers’.
“Lindor would be the perfect fit for anybody,” Kawakami said on KNBR. “He’d be the perfect fit for the Dodgers. There’s some thinking that they might go after Lindor and move on from (Corey) Seager. There was talk that they were trying to trade for Lindor. Those damn Dodgers, they might cut in front of you for anybody. If they do that, then Cory Seager certainly is not a bad Plan B for the Giants.
“I think those two guys are your $300 million players. They’re the ‘Mookie Betts’. They’re probably not quite as valuable as Mookie Betts although it’s debatable. Mookie Betts was $325. If had to say which players are worth that it would be those two. I think (Javier) Baez, let’s see. He had a fractured thumb last season and was severely limited. He’s a great player, he’s also young.”
Lindor is a four-time All-Star, two time Gold Glover and two time Silver Slugger winner at just 27 years old. He led the league in runs in 2018. Seager at 26 is younger and less decorated, but his career OPS is actually better than Lindor’s, .863 to .833 respectively.
Baez, 28, was one of the best shortstops in baseball before his injury, and finished second in NL MVP voting in 2018.
Kawakami then ticked off some names that might, or might not, be lower on the list.
“I think with Trevor Story, I don’t always go by the Coors Field inflation but did you see his OPS at Oracle Park? It’s terrible. I would be very wary. In fact, I’d guess Trevor Story is someone who is not on their list.
“There are other people. (Carlos) Correa is young, very young. He’s got back issues though so there’s no way he’s a $300 million player. He’s just not…Little sketchy on a 10 year deal if that’s what it’s going to take, but I would have him ahead of Story.
“Then you start getting into a trade for a Matt Chapman or a Nolan Arenado cause he has an opt out in St. Louis…These are a lot of interesting names. Aaron Judge, he’s a free agent after 2022, although how many times have the Yankees let go of a box office star power hitter? It almost never happens.”
At the end of the day, it’s all about the shortstops.
“There are some interesting names, but it’s the shortstops. The three shortstops are the most interesting to me. Lindor, Seager as the top guys where price is almost not object…and then you go Javy Baez. Let’s see what he does this season. He would be the definite second tier but could almost seem like a first tier player. I think Javy Baez would fit really well with this Giants team from 2022 on.”
Listen to the full interview below.