Newly-christened Giants President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi enters his first offseason by the bay with a difficult task at hand: overhaul a hole-ridden roster littered with fallen stars still cashing huge paychecks. His work may begin in the outfield, where the team expects to add “at least two more” players before pitchers and catchers report in late February, per Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area. The current group, headlined by the defense-first, strikeout-prone prospect Steven Duggar, has won most of its accolades in Triple-A or below, though 26-year-old (on Thursday) Austin Slater and longtime up-and-down man Mac Williamson have certainly had their moments. Still, it’s arguably the weakest current crop at the three spots across baseball, sorely in need of track-record infusion throughout. Pavlovic does take care to note that there’s “no indication” the Giants are currently pursuing Bryce Harper.
In other news from the orange and black . . .
- Per Pavlovic, reliever Hunter Strickland’s chances of a reunion with San Francisco appear to be nil, though it’s possible — albeit “unlikely” — outfielder Gorkys Hernandez, non-tendered by the club just before the Nov. 30 deadline, could be back. Zaidi offered some window into his decision to let the 30-year-old Strickland go, noting that right-handed relief is “an area of surplus for the club” and that the team couldn’t “find a fit” in trade talks surrounding the volatile right-hander. If his work with Los Angeles is any indication, the former Dodger GM seems to place a premium on command when acquiring relief arms, and despite early-career stinginess in the area, Strickland’s walk rate has eclipsed the 4.0 BB/9 mark in each of the last two seasons.
- Per Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, the team has not given Zaidi any directive to move one of its big contracts, nor has he been informed of a payroll threshold. The free-spending club already has nearly $162MM in projected salaries on hand for the 2019 season, with six players owed $39.5MM or more over the life of their remaining deals. Earlier today, Bob Nightengale of the USA Today reported that first baseman Brandon Belt, owed $48MM through 2021 season, is available and has been drawing significant interest across the league. Other depreciating assets, like Mark Melancon, Evan Longoria, and righty Jeff Samardzija, may be more difficult to move.