SAN FRANCISCO -- Second baseman Marco Scutaro, center fielder Angel Pagan and left-hander Jeremy Affeldt, the Giants' top potential free agents, all expressed desire Wednesday to rejoin the club. And the feeling was mutual, as club president Larry Baer and general manager Brian Sabean characterized retaining the trio as a "top priority." But that didn't guarantee deals with any of the three individuals, who performed well enough to rank among the top free agents in a market that's considered relatively weak on talent. In other words, Scutaro, Pagan and Affeldt are bound for big paydays regardless of where they sign.
The euphoria generated by the Giants' parade to recognize the team's World Series triumph overshadowed the business of baseball. As Pagan said, "Right now, I'm celebrating. There'll be time for that later." But the salaries that the trio will command constitute a weighty issue. The Giants' 2012 payroll exceeded $131 million, and it's bound to rise, due largely to hefty salary increases virtually assured to arbitration-eligible players such as catcher Buster Posey, right fielder Hunter Pence and right-handers Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla. So if the Giants are to limit payroll growth, they might do so by foregoing the signing at least one of their own free agents. With the offseason having just begun, nothing's certain, but the Giants have engaged in preliminary talks with the players' agents. Though teams have exclusive negotiating rights with their free agents until 9 p.m. PT Friday, the Giants don't appear to have any imminent deals in the works. "Sometimes there are decisions that you can't control," Scutaro said. "I don't know what they're thinking; I don't know what other teams are thinking. The only thing I can say is hopefully it works out because I want to come back here." Thrilled by the Giants' World Series success, Pagan said, "This is really a blessing and I hope I can come back next year. Seriously. This is great." Citing his close friendships with Posey, left-hander Madison Bumgarner and right-hander Matt Cain, Affeldt said, "I've got three guys on this team alone I'd take a bullet for. So if I come back, it would be great." Scutaro mentioned that his shoulders hurt after he left Thursday's parade route, ostensibly from waving to spectators. It could be said that he felt sore from carrying the team. Scutaro, who earned $6 million this year, hit .362 with 44 RBIs in 61 games after the Giants acquired him from Colorado on July 27. He proceeded to hit .328 in the postseason, including .500 (14-for-28) against St. Louis in the National League Championship Series, when he was named Most Valuable Player. Despite his age (37), Scutaro almost certainly will request a multiyear contract. Asked what he'll seek in his next deal, Scutaro humorously mocked the question by saying dryly, "I'm looking for 50 years and three thousand million dollars." Pagan, 31, had one of his best all-around seasons while occupying the leadoff spot for most of the season. He batted .288 with 29 stolen bases and 15 triples, breaking a San Francisco-era (since 1958) franchise record previously shared by Willie Mays and Steve Finley. Pagan's $4.85 million salary rose to $5 million with performance bonuses. According to widespread speculation, he could more than double that figure while receiving a three- or even four-year deal. Affeldt was happy when the Giants picked up his $5 million option last October. But he insisted that his next contract will extend beyond one year. "When you have a family and you have an opportunity like I have, a one-year deal's not something I'm going to do," said Affeldt, who has three sons with his wife, Larissa. "I have to have some security for my family a little bit." The opportunity Affeldt mentioned is to field multiyear offers worth at least $6 million annually, which he should be able to coax in the open bidding of free agency. Affeldt posted a 2.70 ERA in 67 regular-season appearances and allowed just one home run while facing 267 batters. He excelled in the postseason, pitching 10 1/3 shutout innings spanning 10 appearances while walking three, yielding five hits and striking out 10. Affeldt, 33, said that he appreciated the Giants' interest in keeping him. "I don't know how things are going to work out, but it doesn't really matter," said Affeldt, who has played for four teams. "If it doesn't go the way we'd like it to go and I have to move on, I'll never say anything bad about this front office or team. What a special group of people. But hopefully we can work something out. Either way, it doesn't matter. This team has brought me a lot of joy over the last four years. I can't complain one bit about anybody. It's been my favorite organization overall."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.