Under general manager Brian Sabean, the San Francisco Giants have become known for their fierce loyalty to homegrown players and those that help them win championships. Pablo Sandoval aside, this roster is largely the same as the ones that won championships in 2010, 2012 (ugh), and 2014. They secured yet another player from that run on Tuesday, re-signing shortstop Brandon Crawford to a six-year, $75 million deal.
At first glance, Crawford and Tigers slugger J.D. Martinez have nothing in common. Crawford is a shortstop, Martinez an outfielder. Crawford looks like Colby Rasmus, while Martinez is handsome enough to do photoshoots. The comparison seems more random than an Andrew Romine home run.
There's actually a lot to glean from this deal, though. Crawford, like Martinez, is (or was) set to become a free agent after the 2017 season. Both players are 28, and coming off spectacular, first-time All-Star seasons. Martinez was the breakout star of 2014, so he has garnered a bit more national attention, while Crawford has quietly turned into one of the best shortstops in baseball. Will that .205 ISO last? I'm a bit skeptical, but Crawford was the most valuable shortstop in the game last year, and he's slick enough with the glove to mitigate some drop-off at the plate.
If the Tigers were to re-sign J.D. Martinez beyond his two years of remaining club control, Crawford's contract is a solid starting point. Seventy-five million over six years is a bit team-friendly, but the two players are comparable enough that the deals shouldn't be all that different. There is something to be said for absorbing the risk that Martinez gets hurt or turns back into Pop-Ups McGee, and Crawford setting the market should guarantee that a Martinez extension signed this offseason doesn't top $100 million. I still have him pegged in the $80-90 million range.
The recency bias is strong with lefthander Rich Hill, who agreed to a one-year, $6 million contract with the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday. Prior to stealing Clayton Kershaw's soul for four starts in late 2015, Hill was the guy that you were excited to see come out of the opposing team's bullpen. Here is a game in which he gave up runs to the Tigers. That was in August 2013, and Hill has only made 28 major league appearances since then. Let us all point and laugh.
Billy Beane deserves his usual mad scientist praise if this works, but let's step over that blue goop and look outside his laboratory for a recent comparison.
Pitcher A (35 years old): 29.0 IP, 1.55 ERA, 36 SO, 5 BB, 0.66 WHIP
Pitcher B (31 years old): 21.0 IP, 0.86 ERA, 23 SO, 8 BB, 1.43 WHIP
The WHIPs are different, but you get a sense of the kind of numbers we're talking about. Pitcher A, naturally, is Hill. Pitcher B is Tom Gorzelanny in 2014 prior to signing with the Tigers. He got $1 million and should have been treated as a flyer. Hill is older, earning six times as much money, and may already displacing a decent starter in Jesse Chavez.
The Tigers haven't made any moves to address their bullpen yet this offseason, and their pursuit of Joakim Soria has many worrying that the "sign a closer and call it a day" blueprint still exists somewhere in this front office. Then, Avila says something like this.
Avila said the team is looking at bullpen upgrades as a whole, not on a right-handed or left-handed basis.— anthony fenech (@anthonyfenech) November 11, 2015
"You’d rather have a real good righty than not a very good lefty," Avila said. "So it just depends on the best relief pitchers."— anthony fenech (@anthonyfenech) November 11, 2015
How. Long. Have. We. Waited.
Sure, it's just a sound byte, and if there's one thing we learned from Dave Dombrowski, it's to not trust anything he says to the media. However, if there's one thing Al Avila learned from Dombrowski, it's (probably) how not to build a bullpen. The Tigers are interested in the right guys as far as our dumb selves can tell. Let's hope that they are able to add a couple and turn this ship around.