by Andrew Bantly

With only 6 games left there is no doubt that the Giants are thinking about next season. Well, they’ve probably been thinking about next season since the end of July when, all of a sudden, the defending champs were 10 games out. Even though this season the Giants were, and I guess still are, the biggest disappointment in the MLB, it doesn’t mean that they won’t be competitive next season. The Giants, though probably not the favorites, will be expected to be in contention for the division title and wild card spots.

But…

They need to sign Hunter Pence and Tim Lincecum.

“Curtesy of Don DeBold”

Let’s start with Pence. No doubt between the two soon-to-be free agents Pence is more valuable and more needed to the Giants. Pence is a guy who could put up 30-30 numbers and has proven over his 7-year career that he is a very (VERY) durable player who has played in over 150 games in every year except for his rookie season. Hunter Pence has hit 25 home runs with 93 RBIs this season while maintaining a .286 BA and stealing 21 bases.

With Pence-like numbers every team will be interested, but there is no team with more need than the Giants. And luckily for the Giants, Pence likes playing in San Francisco. A Pence-less Giants will cause all sorts of problems. They already have a HUGE hole in left field, but having two holes in the corner outfield position would be devastating. These two positions are, traditionally, run-producing positions that the Giants can’t afford to be without.

Now the Giants have to offer Pence a contract longer than 2 years. Pence, at age 30, won’t return to the Giants or sign to any team for less than 3 years. And Pence will no doubt get multiple 3 or more year contracts if the Giants don’t sign him in their exclusive negotiation period. A 3-year contract would be ideal for the Giants. A short-term contract with Pence will help the Giants compete with the Dodgers in the short-term and not make them suffer in future years. Need I say Barry Zito? … Now a 3-year contract would supply, likely, two solid seasons of production from Pence. If the 2016 Giants had to deal with a “weaker” Pence than what we have seen this season, there would be no problem with the contract. Every contract now-a-days is dragged out longer than what every player can produce because the short-term value is more important to the front office and fans than the long-term.

Currently making $13.8 million a year, Pence would likely be looking for a sum greater than $15 million. It is likely that Pence will sign this offseason a contract for around $17 million, more than he is actually worth but that is the way it goes.

Now, is it worth it for the Giants to spend $17 million on Pence for 3 years?

Hell yea it is!

The Giants would sign that contract in a hurry and fill their right field hole.

Why?

Because any other player similar to Pence is either not available, will cost a heavy penny to get, or will require trading prospects they don’t have. In the case of the Giants not signing Pence, the San Francisco fans will be worried though about wasting prospects… again… Zack Wheeler is still too fresh in our minds.

Now Tim Lincecum is a different, simpler story.

“Curtesy of SD Dirk”

The 2-time Cy Young Award winner who threw a no-hitter earlier this year still has dominating stuff. He isn’t the pitcher who consistently strikes out 12 and throws in the high 90s to triple digits, but Lincecum can throw a dominating game at any moment.

In looking at the 2014 projected pitching rotation we must look at Zito and Vogelsong first. Likely the Giants will pick up the option on Vogelsong and drop Zito’s. With Cain and Bumgarner not going anywhere the Giants rotation needs more. Giants prospect Mike Kickham could very well be the number 5 starter next season if he has a good spring. But the Giants, in order to be competitive, need to have that solid 3 rd starter.

Lincecum is by no means an ace as he once was. But is he a number 3 starter? No doubt, in fact he might be one of the most exciting number 3 starters out there.

Lincecum, like Pence, will attract a lot of attention if the Giants fail to sign him in their exclusive negotiation period. Lincecum by no means deserves the big bucks that we see top pitchers making each offseason, though Lincecum will make more money with another, more aggressive, team.

With that said, the Giants should be able to resign Lincecum. Currently making $22 million at the age of 29, Lincecum will no doubt see a pay cut. With that said the Giants and Lincecum will be looking for different contracts. The Giants won’t be willing to sign Lincecum for more than 4 years, but Lincecum is probably looking for a 5 or 6-year deal. But when it comes to the dollar amount, I think both parties will agree. Lincecum is probably worth about $8-10 million a year, but in this market he will get about $11 to $13 million. Obviously better than the $22 he is making now, to the Giants at least.

But unlike Pence, losing Lincecum won’t be the end of the world. There are other options. Starting pitcher Heath Hembree is a prospect who will be up for discussion this spring. Matt Garza, Phil Hughs, Hiroki Kuroda, Paul Maholm, Ervin Santana, Jason Vargas will all be free agents that will be on the Giants’ list if Lincecum, for one reason or another, doesn’t work out.

Though it seems inevitable, the Giants should have a much better season than this year’s disaster if they make sure they can resign and sign where it is needed.

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