In advance of someone doing one of those yearly "predictions" things, I'm jumping the gun and laying the plan as it would be if I were the General Manager of the San Francisco Giants. I'm not saying Brian Sabean is not capable of doing his job, 2 parades in 3 years would attest to the contrary. I'm just laying out what I might do. Let's start with what's first, the impending free agents:
Let Go: Guillermo Mota, Aubrey Huff ($2M buyout), Freddy Sanchez, Melky Cabrera, Xavier Nady, Brad Penny
None of these people are really needed, sans Melky depending on how you feel about it. I don't think it would be good mojo to bring him back though, and I have my doubts about how good he really is without any possible enhancements, if you will. I can't help but think 2010 Melky is the real thing, and 2011-2012 Melky is only an illusion. As such, he isn't worth more than maybe a few million bucks, and someone out there will almost certainly overpay to take a gamble that 2011-2012 Melky is for real, a risk I'm not willing to take. I'd rather not spend on a guy and he turns out good somewhere else than spend and he stinks on MY team.
Try to keep: Marco Scutaro (2 years; $16M), Angel Pagan (4 years; $50M), Ryan Theriot (2 years; $6M), Jeremy Affeldt (2 years; $13M)
I might go a bit higher for Scutaro depending on what other offers he gets, but not more than $9 M per season. For a price that steep, I'd rather just let Theriot play every day or grab someone off the scrap heap and hope for the best (or give someone like Brock Bond or Nick Noonan a shot). Theriot shouldn't be too expensive, and if he does end up being the starter then the price wouldn't be too bad at all.
The rate for Pagan does seem high, but it considering the other centerfielders on the market (Hamilton, Victorino, Bourn) this may end up being a pretty average cost. I'd start for now by just offering him a qualifying offer so we know where we stand. If he declines and tests the waters, then you can offer something at less than $13.3 M per year. If he accepts, at least you know you'll have a center fielder for one more season, hopefully more. If the worst happens and the Giants aren't able to retain him, well that would leave one less suitor for someone like Michael Bourn, who I wouldn't mind seeing in a Giants uniform, or maybe someone else outside the box like Ichiro (who reportedly almost agreed to come to SF before the Yankees came calling). Hey, maybe it's about time we let this Gary Brown kid run wild and see what happens.
Affeldt is a bit trickier. Recently, Brandon League and the Dodgers (surprise, surprise) set the market for relievers at $7.5M a year (he got 3 years). Unfortunately, I feel that for a reliever this is a bit much... there may be a few guys out there, closers specifically, who merit earning this much to pitch out of the bullpen. Affeldt is good, but he's not one of them. I'd meet somewhere in the middle of what Affeldt made this year and what League just signed for. If it's not enough and Affeldt heads for the hills, I won't be devastated. I feel like Dan Runzler has the potential to be a really good arm out of the 'pen, he just needs a little more seasoning. Plus, we already have Mijares and Lopez on board, and 2 lefties should be just fine. A third is nice, but not critical.
Next step... the arbitration folks. I'll use the projected salaries from MLB Trade Rumors:
Non-Tender: Jean Machi, Yusmeiro Petit, Clay Hensley, Eli Whiteside, Emmanuel Burriss, Brian Wilson
Offer Arbitration: Sergio Romo ($3.6M), Buster Posey ($5.9M), Santiago Casilla ($5.4M), Gregor Blanco ($1.3M), Joaquin Arias ($800k), Jose Mijares ($1.6M), Hunter Pence ($13.8M)
The obvious thing here is the fact that I just non-tendered one of icons of the 2010 World Series team. Wilson would make roughly $9M if tendered a contract, and for a guy who hasn't pitched in a year and may not be the same as he once was, this is too much. I would try my damndest to retain him for a less guaranteed amount, and probably throw in some easily-attainable innings incentives that could bring the total value up to what he "should" be making. But like Melky, there may be some team out there willing to throw money at Wilson without any guarantee he'll be worth it. I like the guy, but that's not my style of business. If he doesn't like my offer, I'd be disappointed, but the Giants have a good number of young arms in the system to maybe become the NEXT Brian Wilson (like Heath Hembree), so life moves on.
Regarding the guys who I would definitely keep, I would try to sign Romo to a multi-year deal (something like 3 years, $14M) and Posey as well (5 years, $50M). I don't really think Casilla will cost that much, I assume the figures were generated taking his saves total into consideration, not the fact that he is definitely NOT the closer anymore. Maybe try to lock up Pence for a few years since depth in the outfield in the minors is almost non-existent after Brown or Roger Kieschnick.
Speaking of farm depth, I'd add a few names from the minors to the 40-man. I don't know who else is eligible for the Rule-5 Draft and is worth protecting, but these are some of the names I like:
Heath Hembree, Gary Brown, Chris Dominguez, Chris Heston, Nick Noonan
Assuming everything has fallen into place with the outgoing free-agents, the next need I see for this team is a solid outfielder and perhaps a left-handed pinch-hitting outfielder type to fill out the roster. As it stands you'd have Blanco, Pagan, Pence, with Kieschnick and Peguero on the bench, using only guys currently on payroll. I'd rather have Blanco as a solid 4th outfielder, and keep Kieschnick and Peguero in the minors for now. The easy thing to say here is for the Giants to just go out and throw money at someone like Josh Hamilton or Ryan Ludwick to come play left field, but I'm operating under the pretense that, even though this team is swimming in cash and just won a World Series, payroll can't just take a dramatic upward swing. There are some other under the radar names that I think would work nicely without costing a pretty penny, like Jonny Gomes or even bringing back Cody Ross. Hey, the Yankees don't seem keen on giving Brett Gardner much playing him, I wouldn't mind trading for him. I don't know how terrible Luke Scott is on defense, but if Manny Ramirez can play left field, surely Scott couldn't be any worse. Seattle seems to be getting tired of Franklin Gutierrez and would probably pay him to go away (hasn't been good for a couple years, but if he's free then who cares?) And I was always a Fred Lewis fan even though nobody else was... he'd make a nice bench guy.
There you have it, my 2012-2013 offseason plans for the Giants. Opening Day Roster, just randomly choosing some of the above options, would look something like this:
Rotation: Cain, Bumgarner, Vogelsong, Zito, Lincecum
Bullpen: Romo, Casilla, Lopez, Kontos, Mijares, Hembree, Runzler
Starters: Posey, Belt, Scutaro, Sandoval, Crawford, Gardner, Pagan, Pence
Bench: Sanchez, Theriot, Arias, Blanco, Gomes