Congratulations are in order to the San Francisco Giants and their fan base. The reduced period between the postseason conclusion and hot stove introduction will not temper the enthusiasm or vigor of celebrations, but does have serious implications for the Giants’ 2011 roster. As it stands, the Giants will see Aubrey Huff, Pat Burrell, Edgar Renteria, and Juan Uribe hit the open market come Sunday. Renteria will be by team choice; otherwise, the Giants would have to exercise his option worth more than eight figures, thus he’s sort of invisible in the re-signing discussions.
Now the Giants’ challenge is to avoid the post-championship re-signings fueled by the rush of emotion and clinginess. By doing so, that does not mean closing the doors to re-signing any (or all) of the aforementioned players. What it does mean is to approach these negotiations as rational agents. That does not mean they have to take up the most dynamic analytical approaches either, just that placing some logic on their checkbooks should prevent buyer’s remorse. If the Giants’ management absolutely positively must keep this group together, then overpaying the players with some of the added revenue is a better tradeoff than giving them lengthier deals.
Here’s what they’re dealing with:
Uribe is the youngest of the aforementioned trio at 31. He’s hit .261/.312/.443 over the last three years while playing good defense. He hit .248/.310/.440 this season and continued to play good defense. In other words, he is what he played like. The biggest concern in a lengthy deal might not be Uribe’s age – although one would certainly hope the Giants do not hand him a five-year deal or anything near that – but rather his work ethic. There is a reason he landed with the Giants on a minor league deal and the reason was not that he was a prisoner of an ignorant front office.
Burrell turned 34 a matter of weeks ago. His bat played like it came from the 2008 season upon joining the Giants – his World Series struggles notwithstanding. Burrell’s career flat lined the last time he won a World Series and then entered free agency and much of the same concerns that existed then still reign true. Namely, that Burrell’s three true outcomes skill set rarely ages well and his poor defensive efforts limit his overall value. Those concerns sunk his desirability through the market, and that was before he put up a .218/.311/.361 line in 572 plate appearances with the Rays.
Burrell seems unlikely to return given the Giants’ contract and outfield situations for 2011. Ignoring their farm system, one has to account for Aaron Rowand, Andres Torres, Cody Ross, and Nate Schierholtz. There’s the returning Mark DeRosa too, who figures to play the outfield instead of the infield, depending on what happens with Uribe and Pablo Sandoval. With so many moving parts, it’s just hard to see Burrell fitting in.
Finally, there’s Huff. He turns 34 years old near the end of the year and had the best season of the three. Huff does not offer the defensive ability or flexibility of Uribe, but is willing to play the corner outfield or first base. That versatility along with essentially equal offensive abilities and no gimp costumes in Huff’s closet make him the one to re-sign if the Giants have to choose.
Simply re-signing these players will not be a crime. Giving them inflated deals to celebrate the title is. The championship prizes are rings and trophies, not silly extensions.