Well, that even-year thing was fun while it lasted. In fact, why not just jump ahead to 2018 and try again? In reality, there’s no reason the Giants can’t contend for a World Series title in 2017. Nearly every key member of the lineup and rotation are under contract for at least another season, though some fine-tuning is needed after a second-half swoon and a Division Series failure. Presenting San Francisco’s to-do list for this offseason:
Rebuild the bullpen
Ultimately, the Giants’ biggest weakness was their downfall in the NLDS loss to the Cubs. And big changes are ahead. Two constants on the Giants’ past three World Series championship teams will test the free-agent market. Sergio Romo, 33, had another stellar season and was a late-season bullpen savior after replacing Santiago Casilla as closer. But he is better suited for a setup role. Meanwhile, lefty Javier Lopez’s days in the Bay Area could be over after his worst season (1.46 WHIP, 5.40 FIP) in years.
Given Casilla’s failures -- he didn’t even warm up in the Game 4 NLDS loss -- and free-agent status, San Francisco must peruse the closer market, which features such free agents as Aroldis Chapman, Mark Melancon and Kenley Jansen.
Find more power/offense
While the bullpen was giving up runs, the offense was failing to score them. The Giants didn’t have a 20-homer hitter or an 85-RBI man. Not surprisingly, they finished 25th in the majors in slugging percentage (.398) and only the A’s, Marlins and Phillies scored fewer runs than the Giants after the All-Star break. Things got so desperate that Madison Bumgarner hit for himself in an AL park during interleague play and actually pinch hit during Game 2 of the NLDS. It’s time to find a couple bats, with a left fielder the likely target because Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco are free agents.
Figure out the hot corner
San Francisco traded Matt Duffy, its starting third baseman, in the deal for lefty Matt Moore on Aug. 1. After that, deadline pickup Eduardo Nunez got most of the playing time, with Gordon Beckham and Conor Gillaspie also getting occasional starts. In fact, Nunez’s sore hamstring opened the door for Gillaspie to become a postseason hero.
Beckham likely will depart in free agency, leaving the Giants with some tough choices. Was Nunez’s breakout 2016 season an aberration? At 29 and after a journeyman career, is Gillaspie more than a part-time player? Is it time to find an external option with more pop?