The Giants Are…Good Again?!


Karthik Iyer

Back in 2018, the Giants were dead in the water. When a team is paying players for what they have done in the past rather than what they are currently producing on the diamond, that team is in some trouble. The Giants were the cautionary tale for why to not sign older players to “legacy contracts”, with long term deals handed out to underperformers Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Buster Posey, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, and Matt Cain. Those are just the ones I can name off the top of my head, so you can bet there were at least a half dozen more.

They doubled down on their strategy of getting older and worse, trading future assets for players like Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen. They were assembling a 2013 All-Star team five years too late, and it was clear that the Giants could no longer continue in this direction.

The baseball gods blessed San Francisco with Farhan Zaidi to be the new head honcho of baseball operations. This genius would bring the team back to the even-yeared glory days by … getting older? Wait, isn’t that literally what the last guy did? But with a catch! They got better. In the landscape of baseball, age is often correlated with productivity, so teams that are bad generally try to get younger, playing prospects that have the potential to do better than the previous iteration. The Giants zigged where any other team would have zagged, and found players on or nearing the wrong side of thirty who were scraps at the bottom of other organizations’ barrels. Zaidi traded for Mike Yastrzemski, a player who finished in the top 10 of National League MVP voting last year. The player he traded away was (checks Internet) Tyler Herb, a pitcher who isn’t even on a major league roster as of now. Zaidi also traded for Alex Dickerson, a useful outfielder; Zaidi gave up Franklin Van Gurp, who aside from having an amazing name, hasn’t done anything of note. Any baseball executive can pick a player off the waiver wire and hope for the best, but it takes scouting acumen and a clear vision of development to trade for specific players. 

So far, it has paid off. The Giants were 23-15 on May 14, at the top of the National League with resurgent performances from Posey, Crawford, and Longoria, as well as the best pitching staff in the entire league. Another Zaidi pickup, Kevin Gausman, has turned into a legitimate ace with his splitter becoming one of the most devastating pitches in the entire league. Free agent pickups Alex Wood, Aaron Sanchez, and Anthony DeSclafani have also been extremely solid, as have youngster Logan Webb and our old friend Johnny Cueto.

Those are just the notable performers so far; guys like Yastrzemski have yet to step up this year, and it’ll be exciting to see how far this team will really go. They are not nearly as talented as the two heavyweights in their division (the L.A. Dodgers and San Diego Padres, that is), but the only numbers that matter are those in the win-loss columns. The Giants might not be able to keep pace with those two teams, but they could sneak in as a playoff team.

I can’t wait to see what happens.