The Giants should absolutely sign Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery


Keaton Winn just had his 26th birthday on Tuesday. For his gift, he was shoved into a large, tube-shaped magnet, and radio waves interacted with the hydrogen atoms in his right arm. The good news is that his MRI came back negative, and his elbow soreness was just that: elbow soreness. There was no structural damage, and according an official San Francisco Giants press release, he’ll rest and receive treatment and will be re-evaluated this weekend.

This is good news for Giants fans. It, however, brings up a larger concern with the Giants. And it doesn’t have to do with Winn specifically. I’m still extremely, recklessly high on Winn, and that optimism wasn’t tempered by him appearing in an Eno Sarris article about pitchers who could have unexpectedly strong seasons. Heck yeah, Keaton Winn. That’s my motto.

But what happens if any of the Giants’ current starters get hurt? Kyle Harrison has thrown 314 professional innings since high school. Tristan Beck was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 2018, and he’s started more than 20 games in one of the seasons since. Jordan Hicks has eight career starts and five career IL stints.

The Giants’ current plan, as best I can gather, is that it’s pitching turtles all the way down. Don’t take this bullet-pointed list as a prediction of an actual depth chart in the event of an emergency, but here are some of the starting pitchers the Giants can reasonably expect to have a chance at starting/opening in the majors this season:

• Amir Garrett
• Ethan Small
• Sean Hjelle
• Kai-Wei Teng
• Mason Black
• Carson Seymour
• Ryan Murphy
• Carson Whisenhunt
• Landen Roupp
• Hayden Birdsong
• Blayne Enlow
• Tommy Romero
• Daulton Jefferies
• You, the person reading this

Some are on the 40-man roster. Some aren’t. Some are prospects. Some are stopgaps with some measure of potential. One of them is you, the person reading this. I like your odds. But the point is that the Giants are using an “It takes a village” approach to getting their starts, at least until June and July, when Alex Cobb and Robbie Ray (hopefully) come back.

And my argument is that the Giants should sign one of the two very good pitchers still available on the free agent market.

Here’s the pitch:

The Giants have the leads. These are the Scott Boras leads. And to the Giants, they’re gold. And they don’t get them. Why? Because … hell, I don’t know why.

In this analogy, you’re not the drunken Jonathan Pryce. The Giants are. And maybe they should just sign a check and worry about the rest later. If the Giants are focused on making sure the pitcher will hold up over the long term, they can sign Jordan Montgomery, who seems like a strong bet to add some measure of value through the life of his contract. If they want a ker-pow, blammo, homina homina homina kind of signing, there’s Blake Snell, who just won the National League Cy Young Award.

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

Rosenthal: Staredown between ‘Boras Four’ free agents and their potential suitors goes on

Either one. I’m not sure if Snell left a tuna fish sandwich in Bob Melvin’s car last year, so I can’t speak to the interpersonal dynamics of the last two seasons. But the Giants have two choices if they’re willing to dance with Boras in the pale moonlight. They can get practical, or they can get flashy. Either one is sensible from here. Snell is the two-time Cy Young Award winner who could co-ace with Logan Webb for at least five innings at a time. Montgomery is an optical illusion of a pitcher, who either looks like a boring No. 3 starter or a necessary rotation stalwart, depending on which angle you’re looking from. That would also work.

We’re here, though, with pitchers and catchers having reported a week ago, with full-squad practices underway and games starting on the weekend. Is it not a little concerning that the Giants have one gimme, a reliever-turned-starter and a gaggle of rookies and second-year players in the rotation?

The good news: The Giants have plenty of other rookies and second-year players who could step up. There’s a partial bullet-pointed list up there.

The bad news: They probably won’t sign Jordan Montgomery or Blake Snell, even though they should.

The worse news: It’s hard to find a reason that they shouldn’t.

Is it the luxury tax this season? Well, it’s always tricky from the outside to project luxury-tax considerations, if only because it’s tricky from the inside. They involve benefits and health insurance and 401(k)s and it’s complicated. The Angels recently tried to shed enough salary to get under the tax, and it worked. But there were no guarantees until the final calculation of the spreadsheet.

The Giants, according to one source, have about $39 million under the luxury tax threshold. According to another, they have about $41 million. These are important numbers if you consider the luxury tax to be a de facto salary cap, like a lot of owners and teams do. But there’s no salary cap in baseball, so I’m not sure why Giants ownership is worried.

There’s a very identifiable reason why the Padres had the 10th-best attendance in the NL (2.4 million) in 2019 and the second-best in 2023 (3.2 million), and it has to do with announcing that they cared. They’re hosed now, trying to avoid the third season of the luxury tax penalty, but that’s not a likely situation for the Giants, who don’t seem likely to cross that threshold in future seasons.

The Giants have already locked Webb into a long-term deal, and after that, the next Giants player looking for an extension is … Tyler Rogers?  Camilo Doval, even if it’s years away? They’ve guaranteed money for Ray, Jorge Soler, Jung Hoo Lee and Hicks, but, man, this isn’t a tricky future payroll to figure out. Even if they give Roki Sasaki $60 million per season, which they aren’t going to do, the Giants won’t get tangled up in the luxury tax. A deal with Montgomery or Snell won’t wreck them if it turns out to be a boondoggle. So the roadblock to signing them now is …

Maybe the roadblock is that the Giants would like Montgomery and Matt Chapman, and they’re waiting for Boras to agree to a solution that makes it possible. But, boy, is that giving a lot of people a lot of credit. It would also complicate those figures up there in regard to the luxury tax and/or fake salary cap.

It should be noted that the Giants are one of the few interested teams that can give Snell a one-year, $35 million contract if he’ll agree to it. They’d be really happy to get that phone call. It’s not especially likely, but they can hope.

From here, though, it looks like the right decision is to just sign one of Snell or Montgomery. Keaton Winn just had an MRI. The Giants are already projected to be in the middle of a scrum of sorta-tried peers, which means the next team that actually tries might have an advantage. They have a sore-bodied calvary coming after the All-Star break, but there are certainly no guarantees.

Matt Chapman would help the defense, and his strong exit velocities allow you to have dreams of a return to his MVP-level offense, but it’s the pitching that needs the adjustment from here. One more pitcher. Build the rest of the rotation with homegrown dynamos and spare parts as you see fit. But one more reliable pitcher would go a long, long way.

There happens to be a couple on the market. Just call Scotty. I’d like to think that he’s wearing a velvet robe by a roaring fireplace and answering the phone on the fourth ring, just to let you know it’s not really important to him. There’s a bear head above the fireplace, and the taxidermist made it look like it’s winking? That’s odd. But just call him. One-year deal or five-year deal, whatever, make it work. The Giants can use it in 2024, and they probably won’t be worried about it in 2028, regardless of what they do in the next few years.

This is the perfect offseason for a spurned Giants team to strike. We’ll see if they do.

(They won’t.)

(Photo of Snell: Orlando Ramirez / USA Today)





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