Giants Mailbag: Will This Be Another Slow Offseason for MLB Free Agency?

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Astros fly home today needing just one win for a second World Series title in three years, meaning the rest of Major League Baseball potentially is a week from the start of the offseason. 

The Giants could have a new manager by this time next week, and a new GM shortly after that, and then the heavy lifting starts. They have rotation holes, a lineup that doesn't hit at Oracle Park, and a bullpen that lost key pieces at the deadline and could see Will Smith and Tony Watson depart in free agency. 

There's a lot to figure out, and while it's not quite the offseason, it's about time to dive back in. I asked for some Giants/offseason questions on Instagram and got a lot of good ones, some of which were answered on the latest Giants Insider Podcast (with guest Logan Webb). If you have a burning question, hit me up on Twitter or Instagram for a future mailbag. 

Here's the first one of the offseason: 

Should Giants fans even have hope this free agency period? The past 2 years have made me cry. -- slaps29

Welp. Let's get right to it. 

I know the "Giants always finish in second place" thing drives fans nuts, but it's not necessarily a bad thing. I mean, they might have been one break away from landing Bryce Harper in February. It's good to be in the mix, and I think they'll be in the conversation for some marquee free agents this winter. 

On the other hand, I don't know that they're ready to make a splash. Harper was a special case last offseason because of his age -- and there was a marketability factor, given where ticket sales were and still are -- but this winter's free agents won't move the needle in the same way. 

Farhan Zaidi's style is to be in on everyone and see if there's an opportunity, so I don't think it'll be a boring offseason. Perhaps there will be a surprise, but they sure seem to still be in the "incremental improvement" stage of this Rebuild That's Not Called A Rebuild. 

With Crawford's down year do you think we'll see more Solano + Dubon (in) middle infield in 2020? -- irjimmyg

Solano had a sneaky-good year, but the Giants didn't seem to fully trust it. He lost time to Scooter Gennett and then Mauricio Dubon, who I do think is the guy who will cut into Crawford's playing time. 

Dubon has a limited track record in MLB, but he hit lefties well in the minors and certainly has the glove to handle shortstop. If the Giants increase their middle infield depth in general, you'll see Dubon -- who could be the everyday starter at second base -- cut into Crawford's time at short, as well.

This will be an interesting spring and season for Crawford and other core Giants. The new manager almost certainly won't have ties to them and won't be as committed to keeping them in the lineup (or the heart of the lineup in one case). 

Who is a sleeper player you can see surprising at big league camp? -- nilesgraham

I'm not sure if this qualifies, but I'm going to be fascinated to see what kind of runway the Giants give Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos next spring. More and more, big league teams are giving their best prospects a chance to win a job coming out of spring training (Pete Alonso and Fernando Tatis Jr. are two examples from this year), and while it's still a bit too soon for Bart and Ramos, I don't think it's out of the question that one of them puts himself in the conversation with a huge spring. 

Bart, in particular, is just about big league ready with the bat, and there will be plenty of at-bats waiting for him next spring. Both of these guys are ticketed for Triple-A, currently, but they'll get a chance to open eyes in February and March. 

Do you think names like Cyr and Adon will get a shot this year? -- _juanvillasenor_

That would be Tyler Cyr and Melvin Adon, two hard-throwing right-handed relievers who are in slightly different situations. I do think both will get a shot next year. 

Cyr was on the fast track and made it to big league camp in 2018 before suffering an elbow fracture that knocked him out for six months. At the time, he sent me a message that said "will be back pain free and stronger than ever," and his 2019 season was certainly encouraging. 

Now 26, Cyr had a 2.05 ERA in 37 Double-A appearances, striking out 57 and allowing just one homer in 48 1/3 innings. Cyr joined Sacramento's bullpen for a their postseason run and should start there next season. 

Unlike Cyr, Adon is on the 40-man roster, so he could get his first look pretty quickly. He actually was up on the taxi squad at the trade deadline just in case the Giants dealt another reliever or two. 

Adon has closer stuff, a triple-digits fastball and hard slider that dominated the Eastern League. Triple-A wasn't nearly so kind, as he allowed 16 earned runs in 10 1/3 innings, but he did have 18 strikeouts.

That rough PCL stint cost him a September look, but something would have to go seriously wrong for him not to get an opportunity in 2020. Cyr has a longer road because of the roster issue, but the Giants used approximately 324 relievers in 2018, so you'll see him if he keeps throwing as he did in Double-A. 

Are the Giants going to keep Smith? -- dominiclovesthegiants

They've been burned by paying relievers before, but I do think there's one path to a reunion. 

I wouldn't be surprised if Zaidi gives Smith the qualifying offer, and it might be hard for him to turn down $17.8 million for one season given some of the uncertainty in free agency in recent years. He should get much more than that, but long-term, might he be better off cashing in for a year and then hitting the market at 31? That would be an interesting decision.

Other than that, I have a hard-time seeing a long-term contract getting done. 

Do you think this offseason will be slow to develop like last year? -- kfitz023

I'll turn this one over to Zaidi. Here's what he said at his end-of-season press conference:

"The free agent market has extended an uncomfortably long time for all involved and I know that's a topic of conversation around the game. Unfortunately, I don't see any reason why it would be any different this offseason. I think some of the top names in free agency may wind up being out there for a while because there's just no incentive on either side to get something done sooner."

Yep, it'll be another slow one, especially with Scott Boras -- who had Harper sit out the start of last spring -- representing Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon and most of the biggest names. It's not good for the sport, but it is what it is. Get ready for another winter of rumors that won't lead to much until January and February ... 

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