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Psst. Buddy. How Much Would You Pay For This Beard?

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There haven't been many Giants-themed rumors of substance yet, but it seems like the team and Jeremy Affeldt are circling around a three-year contract worth as much as $20 million. If the last thing you remember before painting your naked body orange, shooting off fireworks, and overturning cars was Affeldt's thoroughly dominant inning in Game 4 of the World Series, you probably don't care how much the Giants pay him. Five million a year, six million, seven million... bring it on!

Others might tsk-tsk and sigh about how back in their youth, relievers were paid with buckets of the starting pitchers' used chewing gum and, furthermore, that chewing gum cost twelve cents per half-ton brick down at the General Sundries Mart. How dare a set-up guy make seven million dollars a year? What happened to the America we thought we knew?

If the Affeldt deal is nearing conclusion, it'll be the second off-season in a row with the Giants wasting little time in shoring up their bullpen for sums to make fiscal conservatives squirm. The outcry last year -- $9 million in 2012 for Affeldt and Javy Lopez when the offense was obviously the No. 1 priority -- was swift and clear. But Sabean & Co. have a story and they're sticking to it. Bullpen depth with proven veterans is paramount. You never know when your favorite Lincecum will forget how to finish five innings; you never know when your closer will grab his elbow in agony.

And unfortunately the Giants aren't the Cardinals, who have a knack for finding young unironically-bearded men who throw 98 MPH in truck stops and lumberjack camps across America. The Giants have Heath Hembree, a top candidate to join the club next year, and...er....Steve Edlefsen? Dan Runzler? Dan Otero? There are not a lot of bright pitching lights, whether rotation or relief, in the team's upper minors. The next wave is lower down, probably a couple years away from the big leagues at the very least. There's always the scrap heap, but the team obviously prefers the devils they know, and those devils are making a habit of whipping the natives into parades of frenzy down Market Street.

So expect not only that Affeldt will sign a lucrative contract (you can thank the Dodgers' deal with Brandon League, in part), but also that other bullpen guys despite big arbitration raises will be back, too. According to MLB Trade Rumors estimates, Santiago Casilla ($5.4 M), Sergio Romo ($3.6 M) and Jose Mijares ($1.6 M) will cost nearly $10 M, and Clay Hensley is a non-tender candidate, a reasonable assumption.

That leaves Brian Wilson, due an arbitration raise for the final time before free agency. I'd love to see the Giants work out a deal like this: Non-tender him (the deadline is Nov. 30), which makes him a free agent, then re-sign him to a two-year deal: $3 million in 2013, $8 million in 2014, and an option year ($10 million?) in 2015 triggered by milestones other than saves, or perhaps a player option that lets Wilson test the market if he comes roaring back the next two years. Twiddle with those numbers if you wish.

I have no idea what works for either side, but I see enticements for both sides: A decent amount of guaranteed money for a guy recovering from a second Tommy John surgery, but not so much that the Giants feel pinched. Wilson risks being underpaid, but not frightfully so: his average annual salary would be $5.5 million, and perhaps a buyout on the 2015 year could sweeten the pot.

Those who say the Giants don't need a closer, they have Sergio Romo, haven't been paying attention. There are a million reasons to have both Romo and Wilson (and Affeldt) in the same bullpen; Relievers' ligabonetissuements have a way of going kersploot; Bruce Bochy is pretty good at closer-by-committee; Wilson and Romo one night would secretly trade uniforms to see if Boch could tell them apart; the Giants could sell complicated facial accessories that let fans dial-a-beard according to who is taking the mound. Have your merch people call my merch people.


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