NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Despite their status as World Series winners, the Giants couldn't assume as the offseason began that they'd retain each of their top three free agents: center fielder Angel Pagan, second baseman Marco Scutaro and left-hander Jeremy Affeldt.As a dynamo from the leadoff spot and a competent center fielder, Pagan figured to command ample attention on the open market. So did Scutaro, the Most Valuable Player of the National League Championship Series who hit .362 in 61 games with the Giants. Affeldt was a singular commodity as a left-handed reliever with a history of competence. But the Giants kept them all, signing Affeldt on Nov. 14 before reaching deals with Pagan and Scutaro during the Winter Meetings that concluded Thursday. The agreements enabled the Giants to retain a significant core of their championship club. "I think we were meticulous in how we went about approaching each one in hopes that we could have a real shot," vice president of baseball operations Bobby Evans said. "But it takes only one team that blows you out of the water or has a need that puts you at a level [where] you can't compete." Arriving here with Pagan and Scutaro unsigned left the Giants feeling somewhat anxious. Evans said that the increasing amount of time that passed without signing them created opportunities for San Francisco's rivals.
"It opened us up to being vulnerable to losing them," he said.Ultimately, any time spent worrying was wasted as Pagan and Scutaro elected to stick with the team that helped them realize their greatest success in baseball. Philadelphia was rumored to have offered Pagan a contract more valuable than the four-year, $40 million package he received from the Giants. Money, as the saying goes, truly isn't everything. "In general, players are seeing that salary levels aren't the be-all, end-all," Evans said. "They realize the quality of being near family, the quality of life, the atmosphere, the type of team they're going to play for with a chance to win -- I think more and more players are being particular about [those factors] in general." Deals done: Agreed with Pagan on a four-year, $40 million contract. Agreed with Scutaro on a three-year, $20 million contract. This hiked the Giants' sum of offseason commitments to $78 million, combined with the three-year, $18 million package Affeldt received before the Winter Meetings. The total was a small price to pay for the Giants, who considered the trio essential to their success. Rule 5 Draft activity: None at the Major League level. In the Draft's Triple-A portion, the Giants selected right-hander Scott Shuman from Tampa Bay's Double-A Montgomery roster. They lost Australian right-hander Cameron Lamb, whom Houston plucked from the Double-A Richmond roster. Goals accomplished: As mentioned, the Giants retained a significant portion of their championship core. Signing Pagan was almost like signing two players, given his presence at the top of the order and in center field. Scutaro made himself indispensable in a relatively short time, not just because he hit .362 in 61 games, but also because he displayed the initiative to become a team leader in a relatively short period.
Unfinished business: Not much. All the Giants really need is a right-handed-hitting complement to projected left fielder Gregor Blanco and another reliever to provide bullpen depth, since right-hander Guillermo Mota is unlikely to return.Team's bottom line: "The work's never done. There are too many ways to try to find ways to protect your team over a long season." -- Evans
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.