- 2022 record: 81-81
- 2023 projection: 83-79
- Estimated 2023 payroll: $192 million ($162m in 2022)
- Major departures: Carlos Rodon, Evan Longoria, Brandon Belt, Tommy La Stella
- Major arrivals: Ross Stripling, Sean Manaea, Mitch Haniger, Michael Conforto, Taylor Rogers
The 2022 San Francisco Giants were 26 games worse than the ones which won the division the previous season. That’s the biggest drop between full seasons for the franchise since the 1943 Giants lost 30 games more. Obviously, some of that was a result of the roster regressing, having vastly over-performed expectations. But they were only saved from a rare feat, of going from 105+ wins to a losing record in consecutive seasons, by ending the season with a 12-4 run. Before that, they were just one game ahead of the Diamondbacks on September 18, briefly triggering hopes we might end up in third. That didn’t quite work out, but it was still a hugely underwhelming season for the reigning division champs.
Their winter didn’t go exactly as planned either, with San Francisco swinging and missing at their two top free-agent targets. First Aaron Judge opted to stay with the Yankees, and then there was the fiasco of Carlos Correa. He signed a 13-year, $350 million contract with the Giants, and was all set to be announced at a press conference, only for the deal to fall apart over concerns about his medical history. While we’ll see eventually whether those doubts were justified, a replacement meal of Mitch Haniger (three years, $43.5 million) and Michael Conforto (two years, $36 million) isn’t the same. Not least because the pair managed just 57 and, um, 0 games respectively last season.
However, they did make some moves which will help offset their losses, the most obvious being All-Star Carlos Rodon and his 5.4 bWAR. Neither Stripling nor Manaea are likely to be quite the same level, but they should be an improvement over 26 starts from Alex Wood and his 79 ERA+ (though Wood still projects to be in the initial rotation). With Logan Webb at the front of the rotation, that should be enough to keep them in games most night. Left-hander Kyle Harrison, the #18 overall prospect, could also make his arrival in 2023. Marco Luciano, the #22 ranked prospect. is waiting in the wings, for whenever the team gets tired of long-term incumbent Brandon Crawford.
All that said, Fangraphs does not see this as a team more than a couple of wins better than last season’s model. Catcher and first-base seem to be their biggest weaknesses, though I also have some questions about their overall depth. However, they were only six games back of a wild-card spot last season, despite having a massively disappointing season. I can certainly see scenarios where, if things break well for San Francisco - and that means things like Haniger and Conforto not breaking - they could end up sticking around in the wild-card race. On the other hand, a fourth-place finish is not impossible either, despite spending an additional $40 million.
Where will the Giants finish in the NL West for 2023?
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