Aubrey Huff, Marco Scutaro and Tim Lincecum are among the players who have recently been given eye-popping contracts in the wake of helping the Giants win a World Series (or two). It seems like a uniquely Giants thing, rewarding guys for what they've done, but at least one of the team's top executives says that's not necessarily true.
Vice President and Assistant General Manager Bobby Evans, who is a key figure in hammering out such contracts, suggested Saturday that pretty much every free agent is paid based on the past at least as much as they're paid in line with projections of what they'll do in the future.
Evans, who will be running a club of his own someday but is in no hurry to do so, is too nice a guy to have punctuated his point with a big, “Duh, dude!” But he'd have been well within his rights. After all, upon what, exactly, do you think those projections are based? Astrological charts? Tea leaves? Manatees nudging underwater buoys?
Duh, dude! The projections are based, in large part, on what the player's already accomplished. Age, comps and injury history are factors, too, but nobody gets a two-year, $35 million deal like Lincecum's without having a hell of a past.
Granted, the Giants way overpaid Lincecum based on the two years prior to the most recent contract. And Huff and Scutaro's age and injury history obviously didn't stop the Giants from overpaying them. So while giving Evans the benefit of the doubt, we return to the premise that the Giants do, indeed, reward — give a little sum-sum extra — those who have proven their value to the Orange and Black family by making possible multiple Champagne showers.
So, yes, it's a safe bet that Pablo Sandoval will be back. He was the World Series MVP in 2012, and were it not for the ridiculousness of Madison Bumgarner this fall, he would go down as the 2014 postseason star of stars, too.
It's not a lock, though. The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees weren't circling like vultures when Huff and Scutaro were free agents (Timmy signed before he technically hit the market), willing to pay way more than market value the way the Giants did. In Sandoval's case, market value has not yet been established because Sandoval is coming off a postseason in which he did something that had never been done — 26 hits. How much is that, in concert with his Gold Glove-quality defense and world-class marketing and merchandise potential, really worth?
We're not quite sure just yet, but the Yankees and Red Sox and probably the Los Angeles Dodgers will be more than happy to let everyone know their thoughts on the issue, and that's why the Giants figure to be proactive with the “Panda.”
Remember when they laughed at Sandoval's agent's suggestion that his client get something along the lines of the five-year, $90 million deal bestowed upon Hunter Pence last fall? They countered with three years and $40 million, citing Sandoval's mercurial weight, discipline and performances over the years, then decided to stop talking altogether until the season played out.
It did, Pablo killed it and now that Pence deal seems like a logical starting point. It probably won't be enough to get a deal done, but, hey, Pence didn't help the Giants win a World Series last year. If he had, he might have gotten seven years and $140 million.
Seven years is too much to give Sandoval, right? Too risky, right?
Define risky. Then refer back to Scutaro, Marco. And Huff, Aubrey.
Bottom line, Sandoval should be a Giant for life. He's a central figure in the golden era of the franchise, and he should be treated as such.
The Giants know this, and they will act accordingly. He's earned whatever they decided to pay him, and then some.
Mychael Urban, a longtime Bay Area-based sportswriter and broadcaster, is the host of “Inside the Bigs,” which airs every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon on KGMZ “The Game” (95.7 FM).