The San Francisco Giants have a few expensive veterans on their payroll, but one contract now seems to be the one they’d like to scrub from the books.
As we move through spring training, the San Francisco Giants have the 11th-highest payroll in baseball ($146.1 million, according to Spotrac). For a team that’s been crawling back toward .500, to say nothing of having to battle the Dodgers and the Padres in the NL West, that payroll level doesn’t seem ideal.
San Francisco’s payroll sheet looks pretty good beyond this year. But it’s very top-heavy for 2021, with six players set to count for at least $15.2 million a piece and over $110 million total. Two (Buster Posey and Johnny Cueto) will count for over $20 million.
As a new adoptive father, Posey opted out of the 2020 season. Right after not opting out of the rest of his contract, Cueto lost most of the 2018 and 2019 seasons to an elbow issue that led to Tommy John surgery (13 total starts). Last season, he posted a 5.40 ERA over 12 starts.
Both Posey and Cueto have club options for 2022, so the Giants aren’t stuck with them at bloated salaries for multiple more years. But they are a little more stuck with another veteran player.
Evan Longoria is fairly expensive for the Giants
In December of 2017, the Giants acquired third baseman Evan Longoria from the Tampa Bay Rays. They also assumed most of the five years left on his six-year, $100 million deal, as the Rays are paying some of that freight.
Though he has topped 500 plate appearances in the two normal campaigns, Longoria has missed some time due to injury in each of his three seasons with the Giants. He still supplies a bit of power (20 home runs in 2019), but with age (35 years old) has come an overall decline. He’s dealing with an injury this spring.
At this point, the Giants can take is slow with Longoria if he’s banged up. But with no universal DH, they can’t use him there regularly if he can’t play in the field once the season starts. He’s on the hook for $18.5 million this year and $19.5 million in 2022, with a $13 million club option for 2023 ($5 million buyout). The Rays will be paying $2 million this year and $5 million in 2022, according to Spotrac and Baseball Reference.
But the Giants will still be paying Longoria a lot of money, and the signing of Tommy La Stella proved that they needed another option at third base. The multiple years left on Longoria’s contract makes it the one the Giants would erase if they could.