The San Francisco Giants' checkbook is getting plenty of use.
Starting with the $90 million contract the Giants gave to free-agent-to-be right fielder Hunter Pence on the last day of the season, San Francisco spent $161 million on four players over the past two months.
The spending spree included bringing back Javier Lopez, a key reliever on two World Series championship teams in San Francisco.
The free agent left-hander finalized a three-year, $13 million contract with the Giants on Nov. 26.
"I'm happy to be back in San Francisco," Lopez said. "I've really enjoyed my time with the Giants since they traded for me in 2010. After this past year's trade deadline and not changing uniforms, I knew I really wanted to come back.
"The front office, coaching staff, teammates and the fans made re-signing priority No. 1 going into free agency. I love playing at AT&T (Park) with a packed house every night."
Lopez, 36, posted a 2-1 record with one save and a 1.83 ERA in 69 games for the Giants in 2013. During the past four seasons with the Giants, Lopez has a 2.26 ERA.
Over San Francisco's World Series runs in 2010 and 2012, Lopez made a combined 14 postseason appearances, allowing one run in 8 2/3 innings (1.04 ERA).
Days after re-signing Lopez, the Giants brought back another free agent pitcher, Ryan Vogelsong. The right-hander agreed to a one-year deal that will pay him about $5 million guaranteed, though incentives could make the contract worth up to $6.5 million, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The Giants declined Vogelsong's $6.5 million option earlier in the offseason.
Since the end of the season, general manager Brian Sabean also re-signed right-hander Tim Lincecum and added free agent right-hander Tim Hudson.
2013: 76-86, third place (tie) in NL West
TEAM MVP: The best and most consistent Giant was RF Hunter Pence, who also had the best attendance. He was the first Giant to start every game of a 162-game season (Jose Pagan started 164 of 165 in 1962, when the Giants played a three extra games with the Dodgers to decide the pennant). Pence hit .283 with 27 homers and 99 RBIs. He played well defensively and was the first Giant with at least 20 homers and 20 steals in a season since Barry Bonds in 1998.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: RHP Ryan Vogelsong was 4-6 with a 5.73 ERA in 19 starts. He missed much of the season with a broken hand, but he was bad before the injury (7.19 ERA in nine starts), and it's questionable whether the Giants will pick up his $6.5 million option. At one time, it seemed a no-brainer they'd exercise it, but his age (36) and slide in 2013 made it an iffy proposition. It was a far cry from his inspiring 2011 and 2012 seasons, which followed a four-year absence from the majors.
TOP PROSPECT: RHP Heath Hembree was a September call-up who impressed management with his well-located fastball and 0.00 ERA in eight outings. He struck out 11 and walked two in seven innings, sporting a 0.857 WHIP. It was enough for him to be considered a legitimate contender for a bullpen spot next season. Hembree, 24, had a 4.07 ERA and 31 saves for Triple-A Fresno.
--OF Francisco Peguero and RHP Sandy Rosario were non-tendered by the Giants on Dec. 2, making them free agents. Peguero, 25, batted .207 with one homer, one RBI and two steals in 18 games for the Giants in 2013. Rosario, 28, went 3-2 with a 3.02 ERA in 43 relief appearances this year.
--RHP Ryan Vogelsong and the Giants agreed to terms on a one-year contract, bringing the free agent back to San Francisco. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Vogelsong will receive about $5 million guaranteed, though incentives could make the contract worth up to $6.5 million. The Giants declined Vogelsong's $6.5 million option earlier in the offseason.
The deal would be finalized if Vogelsong passes a physical exam the first week of December.
Vogelsong, 36, went 4-6 with a 5.73 ERA over 19 starts this year. He missed about two months after breaking two bones in his right pinkie finger when he was hit by a pitch while swinging May 20. He combined to win 27 games in 2011 and '12.
--LHP Jose De Paula was claimed off waivers by the Giants from the Padres on Nov. 27. De Paula, 23, spent last season with Double-A San Antonio, going 4-6 with a 3.86 ERA in 14 starts.
--RHP Erik Cordier signed with the Giants as a free agent and was added to the major league roster. Cordier, 27, went 4-2 with four saves and a 4.58 ERA in 44 relief appearances for Triple-A Indianapolis last season in the Pirates' farm system. He spent parts of three other seasons in Triple-A in the Braves' organization.
--C Johnny Monell, designated for assignment by the Giants on Nov. 27, was traded to the Orioles three days later in a cash deal. Monell, 27, went 1-for-8 in eight games with San Francisco as a September call-up. He spent the bulk of the season with Triple-A Fresno, hitting .275 with a .364 on-base percentage, a .494 slugging percentage, 20 homers and 64 RBIs.
--LHP Jose Mijares was outrighted to the minors by the Giants, and refused the assignment, choosing to become a free agent. He was expendable after the Giants brought back free agent LHP Javier Lopez to team with LHP Jeremy Affeldt in the bullpen. Mijares, 29, went 0-3 with a 4.22 ERA in 60 appearances for San Francisco in 2013.
--RHP Guillermo Moscoso refused an outright assignment to the minors and opted to become a free agent. Moscoso, 30, appeared in 13 games (two starts) for San Francisco this year, and he went 2-2 with a 5.10 ERA.
--RHP Tim Hudson signed a two-year, $23 million contract with the Giants on Nov. 19, and he will fill the rotation vacancy left by his former Oakland teammate, LHP Barry Zito, who became a free agent after completing his seven-year, $126 million contract. Hudson, 38, finished 8-7 with a 3.97 for the Atlanta Braves this year. He is expected to make the Giants' strong pitching staff even stronger if he is completely recovered from a severe ankle injury that required surgery and forced him to miss the final two months of the season.
--RHP Tim Lincecum gave up a chance to test the free agent market, signing a two-year, $35 million deal with the Giants on Oct. 25. Lincecum made $22 million in 2013, and he went 10-14 with a 4.37 ERA. Not great, but a nice improvement from 2012. His strikeouts were down, but so were his walks and WHIP. Even so, Lincecum, who won the 2008 and 2009 NL Cy Young Awards, has the most losses among all major league pitchers the past two years.
--3B Pablo Sandoval will be a free agent after the 2014 season, so it'll be no surprise if he's in far better shape in spring training, giving him a better chance for a strong walk year and a bigger contract. "We've seen the good, the bad and the ugly," GM Brian Sabean said. "He's on the last year of a contract, and that either means stepping up for this organization and doing enough to have us want to keep him here, or getting himself ready for free agency and to move on. It's in his court now. We've done everything we could."
--RF Hunter Pence had a wonderful final weekend of the season. He won the Willie Mac Award as the most inspirational Giant, signed a five-year, $90 million contract to avoid free agency and hit a walk-off single to lead the Giants over the Padres in the finale. "A great way to go into the offseason," Pence said of the Giants' 7-6 win over the Padres. The RBI was his 99th of the season, a season in which he was the only major-leaguer to start all 162 games.
--LHP Barry Zito got one more opportunity to pitch in front of Giants fans, capping his controversial seven-year, $126 million contract. He faced one batter to finish the eighth inning in the 162nd game and received a standing ovation. GM Brian Sabean, in a stunning statement, said, "If I had to do it over again, I would have done what we did to sign Barry Zito. I think we learned a lot from his time here, and our pitching staff has. Quite frankly, when we needed him the most he helped us win the World Series. I find great satisfaction and solace in that." Zito told fans on Fan Appreciation Day they're in for better times in the future and said, "I'm looking forward to watching everything." For the record, he said he doesn't want to retire and wants to keep pitching.
--LHP Javier Lopez is the Giants' biggest remaining free agent, and the team says it wants to re-sign him. Lopez made $4.25 million in 2013. Of the 57 runners he inherited, just six scored. Also, left-handed batters hit .156 off him.
--LHP Jeremy Affeldt had a sports hernia surgery in the season's final week, and SS Brandon Crawford (oblique strain in right side) and OF Gregor Blanco (sprained right ankle) were forced from the season's final game. "I've got plenty of time to rest it," Crawford said, knowing spring training was 4 1/2 months away.
--C Buster Posey will be in the discussion when Giants fans get around to discussing the chief reason the defending World Series champs finished tied for third place in their division a year later, winning 18 fewer games. Posey, the 2012 National League Most Valuable Player when he hit .336 with 24 home runs and 103 RBIs, dipped big-time in all three categories this season. He twice failed to deliver runners from scoring position in the season finale, capping a year in which he batted .294 with just 15 homers and 72 RBIs.
--CF Angel Pagan was one of the Giants' most valuable players this season despite missing 82 games in the heart of the year because of hamstring surgery. The guy has been a good-luck charm for the team this season. He entered the season finale in the eighth inning with the Giants trailing the San Diego Padres 6-5. One inning later, the Giants had prevailed 7-6. The win ran the record in games in which Pagan participated this season to 39-32. They were 37-54 when he didn't play.
--OF Francisco Peguero didn't want to enter the season finale against the San Diego Padres. Make no mistake about it, the rookie was anxious to play. Maybe as a late-inning pinch-hitter or pinch-runner. But not as an injury replacement for OF Gregor Blanco, who suffered what appeared to be a serious ankle injury in an outfield collision with CF Angel Pagan. One out later, Peguero was leading off the bottom of the ninth inning with his first major league home run, a solo shot that tied the game 6-6 and set the stage for the Giants' game-winning rally. Peguero was making his 45th big-league at-bat.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think it's pretty simple: We didn't have enough depth. Last year, we were seemingly able to overcome injuries and lack of performance. We didn't do that this year." -- GM Brian Sabean, on what went wrong in 2013.
Again, the Giants followed a World Series title by missing the playoffs. Happened in 2011 and again in 2013. The Giants are more willing to reconstruct different parts of their roster this time, and that could mean taking more chances and making more acquisitions. They won't do it by keeping up with the Dodgers financially, so perhaps creativity would help them improve on a disappointing third-place finish.
BIGGEST NEEDS: GM Brian Sabean was asked about the need for starting pitching and a left fielder and said, "That's a good start." Sabean wants more depth throughout the roster after his team was exposed after a couple of injuries, including to CF Angel Pagan's hamstring and RHP Ryan Vogelsong's hand.
ARRIVAL: RHP Tim Hudson (free agent from Braves).
FREE AGENTS: LHP Barry Zito, RHP Chad Gaudin, OF Andres Torres, OF Francisco Peguero, RHP Sandy Rosario
Don't expect Zito or Torres back unless they're willing to sign a minor league deal. Gaudin had some physical and legal issues that might or might not alter the Giants' interest.
ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE: RHP Jean Machi, INF Joaquin Arias, INF Tony Abreu, OF Gregor Blanco, 1B Brandon Belt
Arias is a valuable utility player, and Blanco is a nice fit as a fourth or fifth outfielder. He can get exposed when playing regularly, which he was doing in 2013, when CF Angel Pagan was shelved. Belt has the look of a potential offensive cornerstone.
IN LIMBO: LHP Barry Zito
Zito certainly isn't in the plans after he completed his seven-year, $126 million contract. Zito said he wants to keep pitching, but it appears he needs to find a new home.
--RHP Tim Hudson (right ankle surgery in July 2013) had a fractured right fibula and torn deltoid ligament repaired. He might begin throwing in late November, and he should be ready to go for spring training.
--2B Marco Scutaro (lower back soreness, mallet finger -- left pinkie, inflamed left ring finger) missed the season's final two weeks. He was scheduled to have a pin surgically placed in his pinkie for 1 1/2 months.
--LHP Jeremy Affeldt (sports hernia surgery in September 2013) should be ready for spring training.
--RHP Chad Gaudin (carpal tunnel syndrome on right side) missed the final six weeks of the season, though he threw several simulated games in September.
--OF Andres Torres (left Achilles tendon surgery in August 2013) had bone spurs removed. He faces a six-month rehab that should have him ready for spring training.
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