Earlier in this series we talked about how the Diamondbacks enter the 2021 Major League Baseball season as a franchise that could not decide if they should sell off their big league assets and enter a rebuilding phase or buy current assets through free agency and trades and enter a win-now stage; well that’s what the 2020 San Francisco Giants were. It didn’t work. In a year where over half the league made the playoffs, the Giants were able to flirt with making a Wild Card game but ultimately finished one game under .500. Now the Giants enter 2021 in a focused rebuild where the contracts that they held onto last year in order to compete are now seen as short-term assets that can be moved at peak value throughout this year. There is going to be a ton of roster turnover here. As the Giants aim to shed some of the 140M+ payroll they have on their books today as only three players )Evan Longoria and the recently signed Tommy LaStella and Jake McGee) who have guaranteed contracts for 2022. So with that context in mind, let’s take a look at finding what value these Giants can bring your dynasty squads.
Catcher: Buster Posey, Curt Casali, Joey Bart, Chadwick Tromp, Patrick Bailey, Ricardo Genoves, Fabian Pena, Patrick Bailey
The deepest position in San Francisco, the Giants will have multiple catcher who are in starting lineups throughout the year. Buster Posey is the name everyone knows, and he will also be a 34-year-old come off a non season due to a COVID opt out in 2020 and a 2019 where his 83 OPS+ was his first under 100 since his 17 PA cup of coffee in 2009. While he is a franchise icon, the team and Posey are headed towards a divorce sooner rather than later with top prospect Joey Bart waiting in the wings. In a rare move in modern baseball, the team promoted Bart last year instead of waiting on his clock to make sure they get another year of service time. Now, the team can stick him in the minors and hope to regain that year by running a combination of Posey and Curt Casali on the Major League roster hoping one or both gain trade value before it’s time for Bart to get his final call up. That said, Posey’s name brand has him as the 16th catcher getting drafted today, which seems entirely too high. In addition having age concerns, he playing time concern is there if he gets traded, and the production concern is there as well. These three valid concerns make Posey someone I’m not at all interested in at that point in the draft, and I’d rather invest in Bart or Casali (both not getting taken in the Top 40) as long term plays.
First Base: Brandon Belt, Darin Ruf, Logan Wyatt, Jason Krizan, Tyler Flores, Connor Cannon, Patrick Bailey
2021 will mark the 10th straight year that Brandon Belt will be the Giants primary first baseman, but it will likely be the last. Belt quietly was one of the best hitters in baseball in 2020 rocking a .309/.425/.591 triple slash with 13 2Bs, 1 3B and nine dingers. That’s a 1.015 OPS and 178 OPS+. That’s really damn good, and if Belt can put up half those numbers in 2021 the Giants will move on from him getting as much as value as they can. He’s getting taken as the 34th 1B in drafts today, which seems about right as you can net some short term gain at the start of the season but long term if Belt get moves he could easily lose playing time. In dynasty settings, he’s a hold at this price. As for Belt’s replacement? Darin Ruf returned to the majors for the first time since 2016 and quietly had a very good year (there seems to be a theme for 2002 Giants 1Bs). .276/.370/.517 plays, even if it’s in 100 PAs and Ruf looks like he’ll be the placeholder who might end up holding off mid-level prospect Logan Wyatt. Both Ruf is not getting drafted in the Top 50 1Bs but is the short term future for the Giants and is a great buy low at the end of bigger drafts. 2020 looks like it will be the first year since Belt’s injury riddled 2014 season where there will be multiple options at first for the Giants, and keeping an eye on the hot hand here could net someone a valuable fantasy piece.
Second Base: Donovan Solano, Wilmer Flores, Tommy LaStella, Mauricio Dubon, Will Wilson, Arismendy Alcantara, Kyle Mottice, Ryan Howard, Tyler Fitzgerald, Tyler Whiteman
This is where things start to get rough. LaStella seems like the favorite to get at bats since he’s the only one the team has given a multi-year investment to, but it’s just as likely that he was brought in to be a locker room leader who will take over after the team shops Solano and Flores through early playing time. Dubon looks like he will start the season in a super sub role and will simply slide in to a more permanent role once the first trade goes down. LaStella is getting drafted as the 30th highest 2B in leagues with Flores & Dubon barely cracking the Top 40. Consistent playing time in 2020 is going to be hard to come by for the Giants, and at 2B there are so many hands in the cookie jar it’s a great place to just flat avoid. Being the youngest and cheapest, Dubon has the most long term upside but none of these guys are anyone that I want on my roster.
Third Base: Evan Longoria, Jason Vosler, Mitchell Tolman, David Villar, Sean Roby, Luis Toribio, Casey Schmitt
It doesn’t get better over at 3B. Evan Longoria was once a top fantasy 3B and while he’s in the twilight of his career, I’m still projecting he gets all the at bats at the hot corner. The Giants will be desperate to find someone trade for him, and they’ll give him every opportunity to create value through playing time. Also if we’re being honest, there are no prospects in this system that are ready to replace Longoria this year. Toribio, Roby and Schmitt are all in their early 20s and could rocket up through the system and deserve a look by September, but the likely outcome is they won’t light the world on fire. Vosler, Tolman and Villar are very much just warm bodies and any threat to Longoria will come from 2Bs sliding over to 3B. Just like second base, this is a position without much upside. Unlikely second base, Longoria isn’t getting drafting in the Top 50 at the hot corner and given the fact he should have a very long leash, he’ll is a decent enough buy low late in drafts in case he finds a late career one season resurgence.
Shortstop: Brandon Crawford, Marco Luciano
Much like Belt, Giants fans can barely remember life without Brandon Crawford and 2021 will mark his 10th year at SS. Crawford also had a huge shortened season putting up his career best OPS [.792] and OPS+ . Unlike Belt, Crawford isn’t getting drafted in the top 40 at SS. Crawford should be valued similar to Belt as a player who should provide marginal offensive work while getting playing time until he’s traded and it’s frankly a little mystifying that Crawford hasn’t cracked the Top 40 at SS. I’ll gladly take his late-round early-playing time and try and reap some short term reward. It feels ugly saying that Longoria and Crawford need to get drafted more, but here we are. Lucaino is the top prospect and shortstop of the future, but he also hasn’t turned 20 years old and the Giants won’t be eager to start his clock so once Crawford gets traded the litany of 2Bs will get spread thin covering SS as well.
Outfield: Mike Yastrzemski, Austin Slater, Alex Dickerson, Steven Duggar, LaMonte Wade Jr., Jaylin Davis, Alexander Canario, Hunter Bishop, Heliot Ramos, Joe McCarthy, Luis Alexander Basabe, Drew Robinson, Vince Fernandez, Jacob Heyward, Heath Quinn, Sandro Fabian, Andy Sugilio, Bryce Johnson, Kwan Adkins, Javeyan Williams, Harrison Freed, Najee Gaskins, Alexander Canario, Jairo Pomares, Diego Rincones, Grant McCray, Franklin Labour, Armani Smith
Geez. So many players, so much nothing. Mike Yaz had a career season last year (this trend of career years for last year’s sub .500 Giants team does not bode well for their 2021 outlook, does it?). An above average 28-year-old rookie campaign in 2019 led to his breakout in 2020, but both fantasy players and myself have reservations that a .297/.400/.568 line will translate over the course of a full season for a guy who couldn’t crack an .850 OPS in the minors until his age 28 season. He’s getting drafted in the mid 30s for OFs and that seems like the right price for a high variance, old OF. He could crash fast and be worthless heading into 2021 or he could have a Jose Bautista style late career renaissance and I’m not going to pay a hefty price to find out. We’ve only got two other OFs in the top 125, which are Austin Slater and Alex Dickerson both just barely inside the Top 100. Both had career years in 2020 (where have I heard that before?) and with their ties to playing time and OBPs above .400 in 2020, I’m going to buy them at that price. Yes they’re 28 and 31 respectively and have no future in San Fransisco unless they turn into Mike Yaz, but Mike Yaz just did turn into Mike Yaz. Everything else here is either too stopgap, too young, or too a mix of both to present any value at your draft table. Bishop and Ramos could both make the show this year if the Giants sell high on any of their starters, but they’re all cheap enough and there is no reason to rush the young ones that these outfielders are going to definitely get dealt. There could be some sneaky value here, even if it’s coming from guys who are nearly 30 and have no prospect pedigree.
Overall, these Giants are going to be extremely boring to watch and will likely be a worse team on the field come September than they are on Opening Day. It’s not a good year to be a Giants fan, but with mountains of money to spend in 2021 if ownership isn’t cheap and looses the purse strings a bit they could be a fun team to watch. Then again who are we kidding, owners don’t loose purse strings, it’s going to be lengthy rebuild.