There has been a lot of buzz directed at who will be the San Francisco Giants starting shortstop of the future. The shortstop free-agent market at the end of the 2021 season is heavily stacked with talent. And, the Giants’ pockets figure to be among the deepest in the bigs heading into the offseason.
The Giants have multiple big-name players potentially coming off of the books after 2021. Farhan Zaidi, the Giants President Of Baseball Operations, has the club set up for a dramatic makeover. He has done a terrific job of keeping the Giants competitive while bolstering the farm system, and piecing the team together with one-year deals until existing contracts expire. Here is a list of players and dollars that could disappear from San Francisco’s books at the end of the season.
- Brandon Belt $17.2 M
- Brandon Crawford $15.2 M
- Buster Posey $22.18 M
- Johnny Cueto $21.83 M
- Kevin Gausman $18.9 M
There is no guarantee that all of these players are playing in their San Francisco farewell tour this year. But, the club ranks among the oldest in the big leagues, and there is no denying that the club needs to get younger in order to continue to be competitive. Here, let’s focus solely on the shortstop position and how all of this freed-up money will impact the Giants starting shortstop position for the future.
One superstar in Francisco Lindor has already come off the board, inking a 10-year $351 million deal with the New York Mets. Here is a list of some of the remaining superstars that are currently available to the Giants.
- Carlos Correa, 26 years old
- Corey Seager, 27 years old
- Javier Baez, 28 years old
- Trevor Story, 28 years old
If the Giants Shortstop Position Isn’t Broken, Don’t Fix It
Before getting into Brandon Crawford’s replacement, it’s important to focus on who is already manning short. Crawford has played shortstop for the Giants since 2011. He has helped the club win two World Series titles and is one of the faces of the franchise. Crawford has been consistent throughout his career. He is a career .250 hitter with little pop who plays above-average defense. Crawford has shown some decline over the past few years but is off to a hot start in 2021. Although it is a small sample size, his Defense appears to be back to Gold Glove-caliber for the first time since 2017. He has also flashed a burst of power, having already hammered seven homers.
The 34-year-old veteran will not receive a long-term deal. However, perhaps all of the rumbles about the Giants throwing huge money at a young free-agent shortstop are just that, rumbles. The club could have their checkbooks pointing in a different direction. After all, The team will have to spend big money on their starting rotation moving forward. The one-year deals dealt out are appearing to have worked out wonderfully, and if the club wants to keep a majority of that rotation intact moving forward, they will have to pay for it. Another hole to fill will be first base. NL MVP Freddie Freeman is a potential free agent at the end of this year and is expected to bring in a haul for his services.
Something to Remember
Don’t forget: the Giants have Marco Luciano down in Low-A ball playing for the San Jose Giants. Luciano ranks 14th on MLB’s top-100 prospect list. Luciano is still a few years away but is the Giants’ most exciting prospect in nearly a decade. There is no reason to believe that the Giants wouldn’t extend a two-year deal to Crawford and have him hold down short until Luciano is ready for the show.
Another in-House Option at Shortstop
Mauricio Dubon is another option for the Giants starting shortstop in 2022. Dubon, like Crawford, grew up a die-hard San Francisco Giants fan. He idolized Crawford as a young shortstop, and still describes Crawford as the Giant he looks up to the most. Dubon would be a much cheaper option compared to some of the available superstars. Also, he would cost the club dramatically less than handing out a new deal to Crawford would. The 26-year-old isn’t only the youngest MLB-ready option for the Giants at shortstop but would also be the cheapest. Dubon isn’t eligible for arbitration until 2023.
Dubon is very highly thought of by the Giants. He was given a chance at the start of this season to take full control of the center-field position. His offensive struggles have since removed him from that conversation. And, the addition of outfielder Mike Tauchman along with an outfield that is crowded with Austin Slater, Mike Yastrzemski, Steven Duggar, Alex Dickerson, and Darin Ruf, makes it seem that Dubon’s opportunity to be a Giants outfielder this year is over with. On another note, standout outfield prospect Heliot Ramos figures to crack the lineup before this year’s end.
Dubon currently acts as Crawford’s backup. However, if Dubon can bump up his offensive output, he might be the smartest move for the Giants at shortstop. He would allow the club even more money to focus on first base and on, once again, rebuilding the starting rotation. And hey, if the club decides at the end of 2022 that the Mauricio Dubon experiment didn’t work, then Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner is set to hit free agency in 2022.
Let’s Spend Some Money on a Shortstop
Of the four big-name free agents, let’s start with the two names that are most likely to be seen in a Giants uniform. Of the four shortstops, only one is likely to be dealt at the trade deadline. That person is Trevor Story of the Colorado Rockies. Story could be shipped out to a contender as a rental. And, with the amount of money he undoubtedly will command at years end, he shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg.
Perhaps the Giants make a move for Story at the deadline, using Mauricio Dubon as a key piece in the deal. The struggle would be having both Crawford and Story on the roster, but if Story is a guy Farhan wants, the deal makes sense for both sides. San Francisco would need to do their due diligence before making this deal in assuring that they would be able to agree on a deal with Story to keep him on the team long-term.
Another good fit
Carlos Correa also make sense. The Giants currently have an abundance of veteran leadership on the team. Once the season concludes and names mentioned earlier such as Belt, Crawford, and Posey move on, the one-time group of veterans will turn into a spry, funky bunch of youngsters. Correa is a player that could be described in many words, depending on one’s opinion of him. However, a word that undoubtedly fits the bill when describing Correa is “leader.” Corea is a World Series Champion and a player that always seems to rise to the occasion. Correa is a clubhouse leader under trying circumstances off the field, and in high-pressure situations on the field. As the Giants figure to get much younger over the next few years, Correa is a guy that would have the ability to step into the “clubhouse leader” role immediately in San Francisco.
Less-Likely Option for the Giants Starting Shortstop in 2022
Arguably, the best offensive shortstop of the bunch is Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager. Seager, who is the league’s most recent World Series MVP, is a career .297 hitter. Seagar would be an immediate upgrade at short for the Giants. But, one little thing makes Seager’s likelihood of becoming a Giants not probable. He’s a Dodger.
No claims are being made here that no Dodger would ever be a Giant. That would be a silly thing to say. The Giants roster has multiple former Dodgers on it, and the Giants starting shortstop puzzle is currently being pieced together by a one-time Dodger himself in Farhan Zaidi. The point being made is that Seager isn’t just a Dodger. He is a fan favorite and an extremely productive player that has played a major role in the Dodgers’ success. Although Seager’s price tag will be high, the Dodgers always seem to have a little extra change jingling around in their pockets. Don’t expect the Dodgers to let Seager walk.
Who Won’t be the Giants Starting Shortstop
Finally, Javier Baez, the flashiest of the bunch. Anything is possible, but Baez coming to San Francisco is very unlikely. Baez is the exact opposite of what the Giants look for in an offensive player. The Giants currently rank second in pitches seen per plate appearance with 4.09, behind the New York Yankees at 4.11. The philosophy of the Giants under manager Gabe Kapler and President Of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi is low strikeouts and work the counts. A walk is as good as a hit.
This is why players like Mike Tauchman and Tommy La Stella were added this year. They have a great ability to work counts. The Giants offense as a whole has a SO% of 25.6% and a BB% of 10.6%. Javier Baez is currently striking out at a rate of 35.3% and is taking walks at just 2.5%. These numbers by Baez don’t exactly jive with the type of lineup the Giants are trying to construct. Don’t expect the Giants to spend big money on Javier Baez.
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Tommy La Stella, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Buster Posey, Johnny Cueto, Kevin Gausman, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Corey Seager, Javier Baez, Trevor Story, Freddie Freeman, Trea Turner, Heliot Ramos, Marco Luciano, Darin Ruf, Alex Dickerson, Mauricio Dubon, Mike Tauchman, Austin Slater, Mike Yastrzemski, Steven Duggar,