SAN FRANCISCO -- With the Giants' revamped coaching staff nearly assembled and a bit of standard bookkeeping out of the way (what, you thought they wouldn't exercise their $12 million option to bring back Madison Bumgarner?), their front office can move on to the heavier lifting of the offseason.
They are coming off a 98-loss campaign, and it is no small task to raise a sunken ship.
While they continue to puzzle over ways both ambitious and subtle to add power to the major leagues' limpest lineup last season, Giants executive vice president Brian Sabean sketched out three areas where upgrades will be mandatory no matter what: center field, third base and the bullpen.
"Yes, in a perfect world, lord knows we need more power," said Sabean, while on a conference call to announce the hiring of pitching coach Curt Young and hitting coach Alonzo Powell. "Now does that come in the form of more doubles, being able to hit some more home runs, or adding a bigger bat in the middle of the lineup, etc.?
"But I think we all admit that center field, third base and the bullpen are areas that we just can't run from. They're going to have to be in the process of an upgrade."
As the free-agent market poised to open for business Monday, Sabean said the next 48 hours would be critical to forging a budgetary path as he conducts a series of meetings with GM Bobby Evans and CEO Larry Baer.
For the purposes of calculating the competitive balance tax, the Giants already have more than $169 million assigned to just 10 players, and are expected to dole out roughly $15 million more to five arbitration-eligible players. They would be left with very little to spend if they plan to stay under the CBT's $197 million threshold -- a line they have crossed the past three seasons, subjecting them to harsher penalties as a repeat offender.
Their payroll obligations crystallized after Johnny Cueto declined to exercise his opt-out clause prior to Saturday's deadline, locking him in for $21 million salaries in each of the next four seasons.
In addition to Bumgarner, the Giants also picked up the options of left-hander Matt Moore ($9 million), and infielder Pablo Sandoval ($545,000 major league minimum salary, with the Boston Red Sox responsible for the remainder of the $41 million owed to him through 2019.)
While the Giants were sufficiently intrigued by Sandoval's performance last season to bring him to camp as an essentially free asset, it's clear that they see him as more of a role player than someone they would be comfortable handing the everyday third base job.