SAN FRANCISCO –- Going off the somber and at times testy tone of their postseason news conference, you’d think the Giants finished the season at the bottom of the NL West instead of the steps of city hall.
Such is life when your most important free agent, third baseman Pablo Sandoval, is being heavily pursued and you admittedly have nothing in house should he bolt for a bigger payday.
Just three days into the free-agent shopping period, GM Brian Sabean acknowledged the team has made Sandoval an offer. You didn’t need to read closely between the lines to gauge that it probably won’t be accepted.
And it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Sandoval is seeking a minimum of six years, as agent Gustavo Vasquez told the San Francisco Chronicle.
“We’ve put out feelers all over the board with our (third base) options whether it’s other free agents or trade interest,” Sabean said. “But obviously, Pablo is the heavy lifting and that obviously means the budget, too.”
Giants president Larry Baer would not answer when asked if ownership had given greater authorization than the three-year, $40 million offer that the club presented to Sandoval in the spring. Baer instead repeated that the Giants would budget another incremental increase to a payroll that again would rank in the 5-8 range among major league clubs.
In other words … if the Boston Red Sox offer Sandoval something nutty like seven years and $150 million, the Giants won’t necessarily have a reflex action to bid a dollar higher. And perhaps ownership will regret not giving baseball operations a greater commitment to re-sign Sandoval in the spring.
“What we deal with is overall budgets,” Baer said. “It’ll go up as it has year to year. Within that, there’s Pablo and all the other options.”
And what about those other options? Jake Peavy and Ryan Vogelsong? Sergio Romo? Another alternative in left field or in the rotation?
All on hold. All behind Sandoval.
“We’ve told both Peavy and Vogelsong we need time to sort things out,” Sabean said. “So Pablo is the only one we’ve engaged as far as an offer, and the other free agents know where we stand as far as fleshing things out.”
“I’ve already addressed it,” Sabean said. “We’re focused on Pablo.”
And if Sandoval should sign elsewhere, leaving the Giants with nothing but a sandwich pick after the first round of the June draft?
“We don’t have a solution in house,” said Sabean, who didn’t even give a courtesy mention to players like Adam Duvall or Matt Duffy. “So it would have to come from the outside.”
Although Sabean’s short answers revealed little about the spirit of negotiations, the most interesting question could be timing. The Giants have acknowledged that Sandoval owes it to himself to determine his value on the market. But every offer has a clock, and Sabean has shown himself to be consistent in his offseason dealings: take the best shot, and either get your man or move on to other business.
How long would the Giants wait on Sandoval this time? With no other pressing business, and other departing free agents like Peavy and Vogelsong willing to be patient, perhaps the Giants will be, too.
They did just win a World Series, after all.