The San Francisco Giants might be big believers in the even-year magic narrative. After picking up Evan Longoria on Wednesday, the team made it clear that 2017 was a fluke, and that they believe they can contend again in 2018.
That’s a bold stance. The 2018 Giants might be the team with the highest level of variance heading into next season. You can see a scenario where the veterans bounce back and lead the team to a postseason appearance, but you can also see a scenario where the team continues its downward trend, wins fewer than 70 games again and finds itself in need of a massive rebuild.
There’s a case to be made for the former. The Giants were without Madison Bumgarner for a portion of 2017. Combine him with Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Hunter Pence and Johnny Cueto, and suddenly you have a pretty decent core. If you think shortstop Brandon Crawford can rebound after hitting just .253/.305/.403 last year, things get more interesting. Add Longoria to that, and you might just have a playoff team.
On the other hand, last year speaks loudly. The Giants were terrible in 2017. The team finished with just 64 wins in 2017. That was good enough to net them the second pick in the MLB draft. While worst-to-first turnarounds aren’t impossible — just look at the Minnesota Twins — they are pretty unlikely.
Even with Longoria, there are still massive holes on the roster. Jeff Samardzija’s peripherals may have been great, but they didn’t match up to his 4.42 ERA. If he bounces back, the team is slated to open the year with Ty Blach and Chris Stratton behind him. That’s not exactly encouraging.
By dealing Denard Span, the team cut payroll, but it also opened up a massive hole in center field. Steven Duggar, who ranked as the club’s No. 7 prospect according to MLB.com, could fill that spot, but he’s far from a known commodity. The club also has Jarrett Parker, whose on-base percentage was just .294, slated to start in left.
Wednesday’s trade should provide optimism that the team isn’t done yet. By trading for Longoria, and being players for Giancarlo Stanton, the club has given every indication that it intends to go all-in. They can’t simply deal for Longoria and then stop. More moves are coming if the team is truly going for it in 2018.
The Giants could have looked at their roster, saw its variance and decided to make some half-hearted moves and adjust based on how the team opens the season. They didn’t do that.
Instead, the they chose to be aggressive. The Giants may not win 90 games in 2018, but it won’t be for lack of trying. No matter what happens, that’s a lot better than the alternative.
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