With the CBA getting closer to expiring, the likelihood of a labor strike gets more and more plausible with each passing day. While this doesn't necessarily effect the Giants search for a closer, locking one up may depend on what those final details hold. There have been a couple of trades, and a few intriguing names that have found new teams this winter, but all of the top tier free agents and trade bait is still out there, and it's likely due to the uncertainty surrounding the labor talks.
A deal will get done before the season starts. We aren't going to miss any actual games. But the winter meetings in a couple of weeks could be relatively mild compared to years past, especially since they will be held right after the CBA is set to expire.
One of the rumored hangups is surrounding the qualifying offer in free agency. These days, if a player rejects a QO, they then come with a draft pick attached to them as compensation for the team that loses their services. All of these picks are held after the first round of the June Draft, while the team that gains the services of the player they have signed loses their first round pick. Obviously the Player's Union doesn't want this pick attached to the players they are representing any more, since it costs them money in the long run and keeps them on the free agent market a little longer. Just this year, Ian Desmond didn't sign until the leap day in February. He went on to have a pretty solid season with the Texas Rangers.
The only closer with a QO attached to them this winter is Kenley Jansen, since he was with the Dodgers the entire 2016 campaign. Since Aroldis Chapman and Mark Melancon were traded at the deadline, they were not eligible to receive a qualifying offer. While adding Melancon would be just fine for the Giants, there is another factor at play here, and that's the salary cap.
The Giants have been in the upper echelon of team payroll since 2010, and have been in the top five each of the past two seasons. While they have consistently remained under the salary cap of $189M, they could approach that number this winter--especially if they would like to add, say, Melancon, Greg Holland, and a left fielder.
The salary cap has been another issue up for debate during negotiations, and if that figure does indeed go up, then it could have a bit of an influence on how the Giants approach free agency, or whether they need to trade to acquire a player for a spot that could use an upgrade.
There is still no doubt in my mind that the Giants will address the holes on their roster that have been covered ad nauseam, and I think we can trust Bobby Evans and company enough to get those spots filled if he feels a shift in the market, say, if teams stop waiting for the CBA to start snatching up free agents.
The upgrades are coming in one way or another, but we may just have to wait a little while for them to officially don the orange and black.