Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi met with the media yesterday and addressed a wide array of topics. In addition to downplaying the club’s need for catching help, he touched on a few of the team’s free agent decisions.
Nothing has loomed larger for the organization over the past few weeks than the deal with Carlos Correa that fell through. Correa’s camp quickly pivoted to the Mets after the Giants expressed concerns about the star shortstop’s physical and backed out of their $350MM agreement. Of course, New York’s doctors expressed similar concerns and Correa’s $315MM deal with the Mets also fell apart.
Zaidi indicated that San Francisco briefly touched base with Correa’s camp after his physical with the Mets was flagged (link via Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area). The Giants’ baseball ops leader indicated Correa wasn’t much interested in reopening discussions with San Francisco at the time, saying that Correa’s group “had other things they were more focused on.” Zaidi had expressed something similar a couple weeks back, indicating the team was unlikely to get deeply involved again with the Boras Corporation then focused on hammering out a deal with the Mets. That never came to fruition and Correa eventually returned to the Twins on a six-year, $200MM guarantee.
While the Giants’ offseason is in large part defined by near-misses on Aaron Judge and Correa, San Francisco certainly wasn’t inactive. They came up short on the star player they’d been seeking but brought in a number of quality regulars and role players. That was especially true in the outfield, where Joc Pederson returned via the qualifying offer and Mitch Haniger and Michael Conforto signed multi-year free agent deals.
That solidified the outfield, with Haniger and Conforto expected to flank Mike Yastrzemski or Austin Slater on most days. Pederson will be the primary designated hitter if everyone’s healthy. LaMonte Wade Jr. has gotten a decent amount of corner outfield run over the past couple seasons but now looks set to man first base, at least as the strong side of a platoon arrangement.
Wade, a left-handed hitter, owns a .235/.318/.434 line over 632 plate appearances since the Giants acquired him from the Twins over the 2020-21 offseason. He’s been dreadful in 75 looks against left-handed pitching (.119/.178/.149) but has a quality .251/.336/.473 line with 26 home runs and 22 doubles in 557 trips while holding the platoon advantage. That makes him a logical partner for right-handed hitters like Wilmer Flores, J.D. Davis and David Villar, each of whom could rotate through the corner infield.
A desire to lean on Wade at first base played into San Francisco’s decision to watch Brandon Belt join the Blue Jays in free agency, Zaidi indicted (Pavlovic link). Zaidi suggested the team stayed in touch with Belt but didn’t specify whether the club made an official offer. After parts of 12 seasons in San Francisco, the veteran first baseman joined the Jays on a $9.3MM deal earlier this week.
One free agent whom San Francisco did sign is reliever Luke Jackson. The longtime Braves righty didn’t pitch in 2022 thanks to an April Tommy John surgery. It marked a rough platform year but San Francisco still added him on a two-year, $11.5MM guarantee. With the typical Tommy John rehab taking roughly 14 months, Jackson isn’t expected to be ready for the start of next season. Zaidi acknowledged he might open the year on the 60-day injured list, which would keep him out of action until at least late May (link via Evan Webeck of the San Jose Mercury News). That’s not suggestive of any kind of setback, as Zaidi said Jackson is “doing great in his rehab.”