By Morris Phillips
Statistically, the 2019 Giants are a mixed bag of hope and despair, but one number continues to set itself apart from the group: the Giants have hit just 158 home runs, 52 fewer than the Major League average, and way fewer than anyone could envision a playoff contender subsisting on.
Not hitting home runs, not scoring runs? Well, a trip to Boston to face the Red Sox could be the fix the Giants need to put themselves into a statistically, palatable place. The Sox have put up 831 runs–more than 100 runs above the major league average–and the Giants wouldn’t mind seeing some of that offense rub off on them.
Bringing your lucky charm to the interleague series couldn’t help either. The Giants are offering the hyped debut of Mike Yasztremski at Fenway. Yasztremski, the grandson of the Boston Hall of Famer, has a .265 average with 19 home runs and 65 RBI. His grandfather, Carl, will be on hand at Fenway on Tuesday night.
The Giants hope to retain Yasztremski, Kevin Pillar and Alex Dickerson in the off-season to bolster their outfield in 2020. But if not, could the Giants make a run at Boston’s J.D. Martinez, who has an opt-out clause in his five-year deal after this season? A year ago, Martinez was among baseball’s premiere offensive threats as Boston ascended to a World Series title. This year, Martinez has been off his game, but not so much so that he couldn’t realistically rebound in 2020. Would the Giants consider giving the former Diamondback a five-year deal and making him the centerpiece of their offense going forward?
Chris Sale started 2019 far removed from his All-Star form, briefly righted his ship, then was declared done for the season with an elbow injury. Sale signed a five-year, $145 million extension in the off-season, just part of Boston’s pricey rotation of 2020 and beyond. David Price, Nathan Eovaldi also are big ticket items for the Sox in 2020.
Still Rick Porcello and Pablo Sandoval come off the books this off-season, which could lead the Red Sox to pursuing Madison Bumgarner to bolster their rotation. After a season in which the Giants found few rewarding offers for their iconic starter, he could be a bargain in free agency. Could that lead Bumgarner to Boston?
The revolving door could start with Martinez or Bumgarner or some other names. Will Smith, a 2020 free agent, could be of interest to Boston, as could Tony Watson. The Giants could take a look at Porcello if the price is right.
One thing’s certain: both franchises will look shed salary before they add it. Dave Dombrowski, Boston’s architect for their 2018 championship roster has already been shown the door, likely meaning his replacement will have the mandate to be more fiscally responsible. That’s probably an easy one to determine. Both franchises have too many weighty commitments going forward.
Johnny Cueto, Buster Posey, Evan Longoria, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt all have two years remaining with the Giants. In 2020, the financial commitment to those five players alone will total $91 million.
The Red Sox have $237 million in commitments to Price, Sale and Eovaldi over the next three seasons. But they also have interest in resigning Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts to long term deals, so that probably means the new Sox GM will be aggressive in trying to shed one of the three starters on this list.
These circumstances could draw the two franchises together as mutual beneficiaries. If so, it’s bound to be creative. But how could it not be? These two franchises know how to operate having won seven of the previous 15 World Series titles.
On Tuesday, Giants’ rookie Logan Webb faces Eovaldi at 4:05 pm.