What are the chances of Pablo Sandoval or Nate Schierholtz having a breakout year like Kevin Mitchell did? Mitchell clubbed 47 home runs with 125 RBIs in 1989 after hitting 19 homers the previous season.
-- Bob B., Riverside, Iowa
Have a question about the Giants?
E-mail your query to MLB.com Giants beat reporter Chris Haft for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.
I'm sure the Inbox is flooded with questions about Beltran, but I'd like to add my fire to the fury. Was a two-year, $26 million deal really way beyond the Giants' imagination? Surely they began the discussion around $10 million per season. How could ownership be so hellbent on reviving the Deadball Era to pass on any serious attempt at signing Beltran?
-- Matt D., Oakland
This suggested that any effort the Giants might make to sign Beltran would be secondary. Committing the money to him that St. Louis did, though it doesn't appear to be an exorbitant sum, probably would hamper San Francisco's bid to retain Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. True, the Giants will pay $9.25 million this year to left-handers Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez, whom they retained more than a month before Beltran signed with St. Louis. You can argue that San Francisco could have snubbed Affeldt and Lopez to allocate their salaries toward a Beltran bid. But that simply wasn't the Giants' plan.With the Giants making little noise so far in the offseason, do you know if Sabean is making a big surprise deal during the silence?
-- J.R., San Francisco Most likely, he isn't. Given the club's aforementioned emphasis on pitching, it's difficult to lend credence to the trade scenarios involving Cain and Lincecum that have been put forth by various outlets. As an organization that sets the postseason as its goal nearly every year, the Giants need both Lincecum and Cain to separate themselves from other would-be contenders. But if the Giants are struggling as the Trade Deadline approaches, common sense dictates that Sabean might at least listen to offers for Lincecum or Cain that would bring the Giants a bushel of prospects. An abysmal first half would indicate that the magic of 2010 has evaporated and the window of opportunity Lincecum and Cain once opened has closed on their wondrous hands, thereby necessitating drastic changes. But this is a worst-case scenario. Once the salaries of Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand come off the books, which potential free agents will the Giants be able to go after?
-- Jesse H., Denver The Giants can begin by addressing their own free agents. They owe Rowand either $12 million or $13.6 million this year, depending on which contractual source one peruses. Then their financial obligation to him ends. San Francisco's list of significant free agents after this season includes outfielders Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan, Vogelsong, left-hander Jeremy Affeldt, second baseman Freddy Sanchez and, of course, Cain, who should be able to command a deal averaging more than $17 million annually (he'll earn $15.3 million this year). The Giants will encounter considerable competition for Cain's services if they allow him to go on the open market. Forging a multiyear deal with him during Spring Training, as San Francisco previously has done, is well within the realm of possibility. After paying Zito $19 million this year and $20 million in 2013, the Giants will owe him nothing more than a $7 million buyout before 2014. The Giants then can train their attention upon Lincecum and Brian Wilson, both free agents after 2013. That assumes San Francisco by then will not have signed Lincecum to a multiyear contract that wipes out at least one of his free-agent seasons. The sides have exchanged a few multiyear proposals this offseason, to no avail. Expect talks to continue for the next five to six weeks as the Giants and Lincecum try to avoid a salary arbitration hearing which will be inconvenient at best and divisive at worst. Though it's a little early to project the 2013-14 free-agent market, the list of players who'll become eligible to shop themselves around after this season includes James Loney, Miguel Montero, Mike Napoli, B.J. Upton and Cole Hamels. David Wright, Kevin Youkilis and Dan Haren are among those will become free agents if their contract options aren't exercised.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.