The Giants have officially declined Ryan Vogelsong’s $6.5 MM option.
It was probably an obvious decision to most but I’m still in denial about the fact that Ryan Vogelsong may no longer be a San Francisco Giant. The deepest part of my fandom aches for one of the most inspirational players to ever wear a Giants uniform and I don’t think I’ll believe it until opening day of 2014.
As someone who loves the Giants, and loved the Giants well before Ryan Vogelsong became a factor in 2011, I’m genuinely disappointed in the decision to let Vogelsong walk. While his option may seem hefty to some, Andrew Baggarly pointed out that they paid Barry Zito even more just to walk away:
— Andrew Baggarly (@CSNBaggs) November 5, 2013
When you view it through that perspective, it’s all you can do to wonder how a move like this from the Giants is perceived by Vogelsong’s camp. Additionally, it seemed as though there wasn’t much going on in terms of negotiations or even discussions of Vogelsong returning for a lower base plus incentives, as many had speculated prior to the official announcement.
While I understand the Giants are looking at other options, a one-year contract at a lower base would have been a relatively risk free move for the organization. During this time, the Giants would be able to allow him to compete for his job in spring training and prove that 2013 was just a weird anomaly of a short offseason, WBC fatigue, and a freak hand injury. Knowing that Vogelsong is a notoriously hard worker and extraordinarily determined (and that his track record shows one hell of a comeback), I don’t see this is a stretch.
As Vogelsong said at the end of this season in a textbook Vogelsong quote:
“I want to be back and hope they pick (the option) up. If they do, I’m going to be better next year. If they don’t, I’m going to be better next year.”
And hasn’t he earned the right to prove that he has it in him? Even at 37 years old, Vogelsong has proven that he’s tough as nails, resilient, and his good moments have far outweighed his bad.
Aside from the pitching factor, Vogelsong is also a great clubhouse guy and is loved by his teammates (Ryan won the Willie Mac Award in 2011 which is voted on my teammates) – not something to be overlooked when you’re working with a team like the Giants who rely heavily on chemistry and inspiration for some of their greatest successes.
But unfortunately, a baseball team and it’s decisions are not based on “intangibles”. As harsh as it is, baseball is a game of “what have you done for me lately” – the operative word there being “lately”. The Giants seem to be keen on exploring the free market and leaning on Vogelsong as a last resort – not exactly a flattering proposition for any major league ball player.
As a final thought, I’m going to allow myself to wear my heart on my sleeve for a moment and say candidly that Ryan Vogelsong’s story captivated me in a way that I hadn’t felt in a really long time. His journey humanized baseball beyond stats, salaries, and business decisions. He was hope in a season with no hope and he was undeniably inspirational. His tenacity translated into success and yet he never let his guard down or let the chip fall from his shoulder. He worked his ass off, and it always showed, no matter what the box score was.
There’s certainly a lot of talk out there on how baseball players are overpaid spoiled athletes. I’ll never deny that these guys are blessed to be doing what they love and getting heavily compensated for it. But I also like to take a step back to remember that all these players whose net worth is often translated into numbers on a stat sheet are also humans who want to be happy, provide for their families, and succeed and be great at what they do. Despite all of the talk around money and Vogelsong’s future with the Giants, I think he truly just wanted to return to the city that gave him a second chance.
If Ryan Vogelsong is not returning to San Francisco, my only regret is that the fans didn’t get a chance to give him that standing ovation that he deserved. Vogelsong rarely took a moment to look up in the stands to see how many fans love and adore him. As a fan, I’m sorry I never got to thank him for what he’s done for the franchise.
Not sure what the ultimate outcome will be but in my book, Ryan Vogelsong will always be remembered as a great Giant and class-act.