MLB Trade Rumors » » San Francisco Giants 2018-02-20T06:00:45Z Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Giants Sign Tony Watson]]> 2018-02-19T23:59:01Z 2018-02-19T23:55:55Z FEBRUARY 19: Watson is officially a member of the Giants. He will earn $3MM in 2018 and $3.5MM in 2019 before considering a $2.5MM player option ($500K buyout) for 2020, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (Twitter link).

FEBRUARY 17: The Giants have reportedly agreed to a two-year deal with free-agent lefty Tony Watson that includes a player option for a third season. Watson is represented by the Boras Corporation.

Watson receives a $9MM guarantee, but it’s far from certain that he’ll end up earning precisely that amount. His total earnings could increase to $14MM over two years or $21MM for three years, depending on escalators and performance bonuses. Of course, Watson could also elect to return to the open market and leave some of the guaranteed money on the table.


[RELATED: Updated Giants Depth Chart]

The complicated structure will allow the Giants to stay shy of the luxury line, at least for the time being. Despite having had only limited availability at this stage of the winter, the San Francisco organization was able to fit another veteran piece as they seek to engineer a dramatic turnaround from a ghastly 2017 performance.

Watson.Tony (5)

Watson, who’ll turn 33 at the end of May, has long been a productive late-inning reliever, though he has also long outperformed his peripherals. It seemed he was fading a bit during a less-than-stellar first half of the 2017 season with the Pirates. But Watson finished strong after being dealt to the Dodgers and ended 2017 with a 3.38 ERA over 66 2/3 frames.

Rather remarkably, that quality run prevention effort matched the worst full-season earned run average of Watson’s career. Over his seven campaigns and 453 innings in the majors, Watson carries an excellent 2.68 ERA with 7.9 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9. He also has ample late-inning experience, including thirty saves.

Watson got much better results after changing uniforms, though it’s not crystal clear just what changed. He tweaked his horizontal release point, shifted toward his two-seamer and away from his slider, and started working higher in the zone with his fastballs. The bottom line remains that he brings 94 mph and a ~12% swinging-strike rate from the left side.

Regardless, the main question probably remains whether skipper Bruce Bochy will deploy Watson more as a general setup man in front of former Pittsburgh teammate Mark Melancon, or whether instead he’ll use the southpaw in a more targeted fashion against opposing lefties. Righties tagged Watson for a .271/.348/.460 slash last year and have long found greater success against him than their left-handed-hitting counterparts.

Jon Heyman and Robert Murray Fan Rag reported the signing (Twitter link). Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic tweeted the structure, while Jerry Crasnick of had the guarantee (via Twitter). 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Giants Designate Joan Gregorio For Assignment]]> 2018-02-19T21:49:47Z 2018-02-19T21:49:47Z The Giants have designated right-hander Joan Gregorio for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Tony Watson, whose contract with San Francisco is now official (Twitter link via Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area).

Gregorio, 26, has yet to reach the Majors and missed the second half of the 2017 season in Triple-A due to a PED suspension. Prior to that, he’d pitched to a 3.04 ERA with 7.4 K/9, 4.3 BB/9 and a 32.5 percent ground-ball rate in 74 innings of work there. Overall, Gregorio has a 4.37 ERA in 181 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level. Gregorio was, at one point, a mainstay on Giants’ prospect rankings, topping out at No. 7 among their farmhands in the 2016-17 offseason, per Baseball America. BA noted that he had an average fastball and slider with an improving changeup but questionable command, pointing to a potential shift to the ’pen.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tim Lincecum Reportedly Has Guaranteed Contract Offer]]> 2018-02-19T19:34:59Z 2018-02-19T19:34:59Z Around two thirds of the league reportedly had at least one scout on hand at Tim Lincecum’s showcase last week, and SB Nation’s Grant Brisbee reports that one club came away with a favorable enough impression to offer Lincecum a guaranteed, Major League deal. That team is not the Giants, Brisbee adds, noting that the presence of a big league contract offer for Lincecum likely eliminates the chances of a reunion with his original team.

Among the teams that were reported to be in attendance at Lincecum’s showcase (in addition to the Giants) were the Rangers, Phillies, Dodgers, Twins, Tigers, Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Brewers, Padres, Braves, Mariners and Cardinals. The Mets reportedly did not attend. Texas and San Francisco were said to be impressed by Lincecum’s showing, via Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area and Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. (The Rangers have been stockpiling affordable pitching depth.) The Yankees reportedly thought he looked “fine,” per NJ Advance Media’s Brendan Kuty.

An NL scout told the Seattle Times’ Ryan Divish that Lincecum’s breaking ball had a better shape than in recent years but questioned whether he had a true out pitch. Lincecum’s fastball velocity was widely reported be sitting in the 90-92 mph range, which would be a marked improvement from the 87 mph he averaged with his fastball in an ill-fated run with the Angels during his 2016 comeback bid.

At this point, it’s been more than a half decade since Lincecum was an above-average big league contributor, when he logged a pristine 2.74 ERA in more than 200 innings for the 2011 Giants. Since that time, he’s mustered just a 4.94 ERA in 654 Major League frames, battling through injuries, diminished velocity and diminished control as his home-run rate spiked.

Given those struggles and his absence from baseball entirely in 2017, it’s a bit surprising that someone would offer a 40-man roster spot and the promise of a guaranteed salary. The now-33-year-old certainly isn’t devoid of any upside, especially relative to the cost of acquisition, but a return as an upper-echelon pitcher is a decisive long shot.

Lincecum does have some name value with fans, though, and perhaps he could ultimately come back as a mid-rotation piece or an interesting reliever if he can sustain the low-90s velocity he reportedly displayed at last week’s workout. (He had some success pitching with similar velocity earlier this decade.) Any big league deal he signs would presumably contain a minimal guarantee and significant incentives based on his number of appearances (either games started or relief appearances, dependent on his role) and innings totals.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Mark Melancon Helped Giants Reel In Tony Watson]]> 2018-02-18T20:49:45Z 2018-02-18T20:49:45Z
  • The friendship relievers Mark Melancon and Tony Watson forged during their time together in Pittsburgh from 2013-16 helped the Giants land Watson, Kerry Crowley of the Mercury News writes. Melancon explained Saturday that he had been trying to recruit Watson since last fall, saying: “I think I did, I’ve been pitching at him for the entire offseason and even prior to that. When he was in LA, I was like, ‘We need you over here now.’ So since September of last year I think.” Now that he’s teammates again with Watson, Melancon “couldn’t be more ecstatic.”
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Giants Impressed With Tim Lincecum's Showcase]]> 2018-02-17T19:07:03Z 2018-02-17T19:07:03Z Both the Giants and Rangers came away impressed after watching free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum’s showcase on Thursday, per reports from Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area and Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Unsurprisingly, Giants brass has a fondness for Lincecum stemming from his mostly incredible run with the franchise from 2007-15. On whether they’ll try to reunite with Lincecum, general manager Bobby Evans said: “It’s up to the competition of what clubs are bidding on him, and I can’t speak to that yet. It’s early. We obviously are all rooting for Timmy. Selfishly, anything he does, we would love for it to be in a Giants uniform, but sometimes opportunities on the business side dictate otherwise. But we’re always rooting for him.” The Rangers, meanwhile, are likely to continue pursuing the 33-year-old, according to Grant.

    • The Rockies have shown some interest in re-signing first baseman Mark Reynolds since last season ended, yet the 34-year-old remains on the open market. Reynolds told Bill Ladson of that he doesn’t know why he’s still unsigned, but he’s continuing to hope for a return to the Rockies after playing with them from 2016-17. “It would be my first choice. It was a great situation. I was good there the last two years,” said Reynolds, who combined to hit .274/.354/.471 during those seasons. “It’s something that I felt was a great fit. But I can’t control what they are thinking. I played there to prove that I’m very capable of playing at that level. … But the Rockies are a good fit, and they are a playoff team and that’s something I’m factoring in my decision as well.” The Reynolds-less Rockies do have in-house first base options on hand in prospect Ryan McMahon and utilityman Ian Desmond.
    • Rangers infielder Jurickson Profar hasn’t developed as hoped since his days as a top prospect, and now that he’s out of minor league options, he could be in another uniform soon. Profar hopes that’s not the case. “I know this team loves me a lot, and I love them,” the 24-year-old said (via Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram). “I’m ready to help them win. I just want to play and help the team win. I know I can do it.” Profar was a non-factor last season in Texas, where he hit .172/.294/.207 over a small sample of 70 plate appearances. Left field was Profar’s main position with the Rangers in 2017, but they’re only planning to use him in the infield this spring, per Wilson. He’ll have difficulty carving out a regular role, though, with Joey Gallo (first base), Rougned Odor (second), Elvis Andrus (third) and Adrian Beltre (third) entrenched as starters.
    • Rockies outfielder Gerardo Parra underwent surgery on the broken hamate bone in his right hand last Friday and could miss four to six weeks, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports. While Parra is “going to be fine,” according to manager Bud Black, Saunders notes that his injury could open the door for David Dahl to steal a starting spot in right field. Dahl came on the scene in impressive fashion as a rookie in 2016, but a rib cage injury kept him from the majors last season and limited him to 82 minor league PAs. Parra, on the other hand, hit a Coors Field-inflated .309/.341/.452 in 425 trips to the plate.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Brian Sabean “Will Be More Involved” In Running Giants In 2018]]> 2018-02-16T05:21:21Z 2018-02-16T05:21:21Z Brian Sabean, the long-time top baseball operations executive for the Giants, tells Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic (subscription link) that he “will be more involved” at the major-league level during the coming season. There’s no substitute for reading the piece in its entirety, but we’ll cover some of the broad strokes of the story here as well.

    Sabean, the organization’s president of baseball operations, had largely turned over regular management of MLB affairs to GM Bobby Evans when both received new titles at the start of the 2015 campaign. While that first campaign ended with a title, the ensuing years — and, in particular, the past season and a half — have fallen well shy of expectations.

    According to the report, the new direction was established by the upper echelons of the organization’s leadership. In his comments to Baggarly, Sabean largely seems to confirm what had become apparent to an extent with his increasingly visible role over the offseason: the architect of the Giants’ three World Series rosters is back in the control room. That said, Evans is going to continue in his GM role while “retain[ing] wide authority,” as Baggarly puts it.

    Notably, Sabean emphasized collective decisionmaking in his comments. And he seemed to suggest that he’ll be focused in large part on working with manager Bruce Bochy and reestablishing a winning culture that seemed to wane in 2017. Just how things will work out in practicality remains to be seen, but Sabean says he anticipates a smooth transition and certainly has plenty of experience working regularly with this familiar leadership group.

    Still, he also left little doubt as to his marching orders:

    “I’ll pay respect to how [Evans has] operated the last three years, but my experience has been called upon and ownership and [CEO Larry Baer] want this as an initiative starting with me and we’re going to carry it out as best we can on an everyday basis.”

    It will be difficult, no doubt, to suss out the practical impact of the Giants’ tinkering. Still, there’s no denying that the organization has sought a variety of avenues this winter to turn things around after losing 98 games in 2017.

    True, the major names remain the same at all levels. Along with Sabean’s move back downstairs, though, the coaching staff underwent a broad overhaul. And the MLB roster now features two notable, highly-respected veterans in Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria who will surely be expected not only to contribute on the field but also to bring some gravitas to the clubhouse.

    As he has previously, Sabean expressed satisfaction with the moves the club was able to make while still staying shy of the luxury tax line. Thus far, the organization has also steered clear of denting its ability to put together a compelling draft class this summer, when it holds second overall position as a consolation prize for the dreadful 2017 season.

    Whether the team’s bets from this winter work out remain to be seen, of course. McCutchen and Longoria have shown signs of being past their primes. Giving up young talent such as Christian Arroyo could sting. There are benefits to staying beneath the luxury line and maximizing the draft resources, but prioritizing those factors surely also carries the risk of not doing quite enough — particularly with strong competition in the rest of the NL West.

    It does seem clear that the team has positioned itself to win if things break right and has done so without fully mortgaging the future. But tough questions could still arise with a tepid start (is a sell-off warranted?) or a solid one (should the team add and go over the luxury tax line?). No matter how it unfolds, Sabean will again have a primary role in the everyday process.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Giants Negotiating With Tony Watson; Phillies & Red Sox Also In Mix]]> 2018-02-13T17:34:54Z 2018-02-13T17:33:52Z 11:33am: San Francisco isn’t the only team in the mix, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag, who tweets that the Phillies, Red Sox, and unstated other teams are also still involved.

    10:20am: The Giants are engaged in “serious contract talks” with southpaw reliever Tony Watson, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports (via Twitter). It is not clear at this time what sort of contractual terms the sides are contemplating, but Watson is clearly the best lefty pen piece still unsigned at this stage.

    This is certainly an interesting bit of news, due largely to San Francisco’s closely watched effort to improve while staying shy of the competitive balance tax line. Recent tabulations have suggested the team is only $2MM or so beneath the $197MM threshold at present, leaving little room for a player of Watson’s anticipated price.

    If the Giants were to accept the luxury tax for the 2018 season, it’s at least fair to wonder whether they’d plan to go further over the line to add other players. On the other hand, part of the team’s strategy could be to engineer a mid-season sell-off to get back below the line if things don’t go quite as hoped.

    As things stand, the Giants’ depth chart features Steven Okert as the top southpaw on hand. Josh Osich and D.J. Snelten also represent 40-man options, with recent minor-league signee Derek Holland perhaps also factoring in the mix if he cannot earn a rotation slot. San Francisco will ultimately hope for a bounce back from Will Smith, who is looking to return from a Tommy John procedure that was performed just before the start of the 2017 season, but clearly there’s some room for improvement.

    Entering the winter, Watson was tabbed as the 44th-best free agent in MLBTR’s ranking of the top 50 open-market players. We guessed the 32-year-old could command $12MM in total guaranteed money over two years. While he has plenty of general late-inning experience, our assessment was that he’d be pursued (and paid) more as a quality lefty specialist. Watson, after all, has long been much more effective against opposing lefties.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Giants Notes: Pence, Hernandez]]> 2018-02-11T03:54:40Z 2018-02-11T03:54:40Z
  • The Giants’ Hunter Pence has taken his switch from right to left field in stride, which the team’s management appreciates, per John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. The soon-to-be 35-year-old Pence has never played left during his 1,489-game career as an outfielder, but he’ll head there this year as a result of the Giants’ acquisition of Andrew McCutchen. Pence is embracing the move, which Shea notes was difficult for ex-Giant Angel Pagan when they had him shift from center to left two years ago. “I think it’s going to be a lot of fun to have a whole new perspective,” Pence said. “It’s kind of refreshing on the mind. It’s an exciting challenge that I anticipate.”
  • Gorkys Hernandez, one of Pence’s outfield mates, underwent surgery on a broken hamate bone in his left hand after last season, broadcaster Marvin Benard revealed Saturday (Twitter link via Shea). Hernandez played with the injury for at least some of 2017, when he batted a meek .255/.327/.326 with no home runs and a .071 ISO over 348 PAs. The out-of-options 30-year-old will compete to retain his spot on the Giants this spring.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[West Notes: A’s, Rangers, Bumgarner]]> 2018-02-10T15:09:06Z 2018-02-10T15:09:06Z While it’s been somewhat of a surprise to see some large market teams not spending the way they usually do, this offseason isn’t different from any other for small-market teams like the Athletics. As Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes, low payrolls have long been “modus operandi” for the A’s, and now much of baseball is under fire for following suit. “I can’t speak for other teams, but I know for us, this scenario is not much different than it’s been for a number of years as we push for a new stadium,” Oakland Vice President of Baseball Operations Billy Beane said. He added that the scenario is individual for each team, but for the A’s it comes down to simply not having the resources. While some are accusing MLB clubs of a “race to the bottom,” Slusser notes that youth-centric rebuilds with focus on prospects and the draft helped lead the Royals, Cubs and Astros to World Series titles in the past three seasons. Indeed, Beane said, “I’m sure that’s part of it. Sports is very copycat: Whatever succeeds, people will try.” The Athletics signed Yusmiero Petit to a two-year, $10MM contract this offseason, and also made offers to Brian Duensing and Austin Jackson before they ultimately signed with other clubs. Now, says Slusser, the A’s offseason spending is “essentially done.”

    Other notes from teams near the country’s Pacific coast…

    • Evan Grant of SportsDay dives into the questions that the Rangers will need to answer if they choose to implement a six-man rotation this season (or as manager Jeff Banister calls it, a “five-plus-one” rotation). The basic structure: have five starters who pitch regularly, and utilize a sixth pitcher as a swingman to pitch only when necessary to ensure that each pitcher gets five days off between starts. The ultimate hope is that such a configuration will keep all Rangers pitchers fresh and reduce late-season fatigue. “The schedule makes it challenging. Construction of your roster makes it challenging,” said Banister. “There is enough data that tells us there are pitchers who definitely benefit from an extra day’s rest or the routine of being on that five-day rest period or six-day rest period. You can point to ERAs. You can point to velocity. You can point to walk rates go down, strike out rates go up.” There are significant challenges in bringing this idea into reality, however. First, it’s a pretty radical change from what MLB pitchers are used to doing, and what they’ve been trained to do during their entire careers. Second, they’d need to find enough pitchers to make it a viable strategy, and the Rangers’ starting staff has more questions than answers at the moment.
    • Giants GM Bobby Evans says that there haven’t been any contract talks between the club and postseason titan Madison Bumgarner, according to a tweet from John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. Bumgarner has long been the ace of the Giants’ pitching staff. He was drafted by the organization and has never played for another. MadBum’s posted a 3.01 ERA (3.34 xFIP) over the course of his eight-year MLB career with 8.84 K/9 against just 2.04 BB/9. The Giants own a 2019 club option over the towering lefty for a mere $12MM, so they’ll be able to control him through his age-29 campaign before he hits the open market during the 2019-2020 offseason (barring an extension).
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Giants Looking At Opportunities For Minor-League Free Agents]]> 2018-02-10T06:34:17Z 2018-02-10T03:07:35Z
  • While the Giants have little spending space if they are to remain beneath the luxury line, that makes minor-league signings all the more important for the organization. Per John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter), the club will put eyes on former ace Tim Lincecum when he holds a planned showcase. Likewise, the San Francisco front office will scout the anticipated free agent spring camp in search of some useful assets.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Giants Sign Derek Holland To Minor League Deal]]> 2018-02-13T17:05:45Z 2018-02-09T18:27:42Z 12:27pm: Giants GM Bobby Evans confirmed the deal to reporters, adding that Holland has already passed his physical (Twitter link via Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area). Holland will be given a chance to earn a spot in the rotation or in the bullpen.

    The deal includes a $1.5MM potential base salary with as much as $2.5MM in possible incentives, per SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter).

    11:47am: The Giants are in agreement with left-hander Derek Holland on a minor league contract, reports Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News (via Twitter). Presumably, he’ll compete for a roster spot in big league camp this spring.

    Holland, 31, spent the bulk of the 2017 season with the White Sox, getting off to a hot start but fading as the season wore on before ultimately being released. The longtime Rangers lefty 2.37 ERA with a 52-to-24 K/BB ratio in 60 2/3 innings through the first two months of the 2017 season, looking the part of a bargain for the ChiSox at the time.

    ERA alternatives like xFIP (4.95) and SIERA (4.77) never fully bought into that success, though, and Holland’s production cratered in the months to come as his control worsened. Over his final 74 1/3 innings, he allowed 77 runs on 105 hits and 51 walks, causing his season ERA to balloon from 2.37 to 6.20.

    Holland at one point looked like a promising young building block in Texas, pitching to a 3.83 ERA and a 3.89 FIP over 623 1/3 innings from 2011-14. Knee surgery cut short his 2014 season, though, and his 2015 and 2016 seasons were marred by shoulder injuries. The 93-94 miles per hour that Holland averaged on his fastball during those peak young seasons was replaced in 2017 by a more pedestrian average of 91.1 mph.

    It’s not entirely clear how the Giants plan to use Holland, though their rotation has no shortage of uncertainty. Beyond Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija (each of whom will be looking to rebound in 2018, to varying degrees), the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation are currently set to be filled by lefty Ty Blach and righty Chris Stratton. Blach had baseball’s lowest K/9 and K% marks in 2017, and his 6.2 percent swinging-strike rate was the game’s second-lowest. Stratton, meanwhile, is entering his age-27 season and has just 68 2/3 innings to his credit in the Majors, during which time he’s averaged 7.5 K/9 against 4.3 BB/9 with below-average ground-ball tendencies.

    San Francisco could also look at utilizing Holland in a bullpen role, even though he has never spent much time as a reliever. Lefties have batted just .246/.310/.349 against him in his career, and while those splits are hardly dominating, he could yet find some improvement if his velocity ticks up when pitching in shorter stints.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Giants Seeking Bullpen Help, Made Offer To Oh]]> 2018-02-09T05:35:11Z 2018-02-09T05:23:24Z
  • FanRag’s Robert Murray reports that the Giants are still looking for bullpen help and made an offer to Seung-hwan Oh before the righty ultimately signed with the Rangers. San Francisco is only about $2.1MM from the $197MM luxury tax threshold, so they don’t have much to spend while remaining under the tax line. Murray suggests a match with Huston Street as a possibility, though his characterization of Street as one of the top remaining options on the relief market seems rather overstated. Now 34 years old, Street was one of the game’s top relievers for the better part of a decade, but he’s pitched just 26 1/3 innings with a 5.47 ERA and a 17-to-13 K/BB ratio in the past two seasons as he’s dealt with oblique, knee, lat and groin injuries in that brief two-year span. That said, he certainly seems like someone that could fit into a limited budget, perhaps even on a minor league deal.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[The Giants' Pros & Cons Of A Madison Bumgarner Extension]]> 2018-02-02T04:46:45Z 2018-02-02T04:41:32Z
  • Should the Giants sign Madison Bumgarner to an extension?  The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly (subscription required) looks at the factors that the team will face in making that decision, such as other future salary commitments, whether the Giants will remain competitive in the coming years, and whether they’ll be wary about another long-term deal for a pitcher going into his 30s when other such recent contracts (i.e. Barry Zito, Matt Cain) didn’t work out.  San Francisco isn’t in any immediate rush to decide on the matter, however, as Bumgarner is controlled through 2019 via a $12MM club option.  This gives the Giants time to determine if they can extend their window of contention or perhaps if Bumgarner himself is still in his old form after his injury-marred 2017 campaign.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Giants Were Willing To Take All Of Giancarlo Stanton's Contract]]> 2018-02-01T23:02:56Z 2018-02-01T23:02:56Z
  • Earlier reports indicated that the Giants were willing to pay up to $230MM of the $295MM owed on Giancarlo Stanton’s contract, though Heyman writes that San Francisco was actually willing to absorb all $295MM.  Some “not upper-tier” prospects also would’ve gone to the Marlins.  Since Stanton wasn’t willing to waive his no-trade clause to join the Giants, of course, it ended up being a moot point.  The Cardinals were willing to take on roughly $265MM of Stanton’s deal and offered the best trade package in terms of prospects, according to a source who had seen the proposals Miami received from the Cards, Giants, and Yankees.
  • Jarrod Dyson’s asking price was in the area of a two-year, $14MM deal, though the speedy outfielder has been receiving one-year offers “for less than a third” of his hoped-for dollar figure.  The Blue Jays, Giants, Mariners, and Orioles have been linked to Dyson at various times this winter, though the first three of those teams have since addressed their outfield needs with other players.

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Giants Sign Andres Blanco To Minor League Contract]]> 2018-01-30T23:44:39Z 2018-01-30T23:24:55Z The Giants have signed infielder Andres Blanco to a minor league contract, Jon Heyman of FanRag tweets. Blanco’s deal includes an invitation to big league camp. He’ll receive a $1.1MM salary and $400K-plus in incentives if he makes the Giants’ roster. Otherwise, the contract will allow Blanco to pursue opportunities in Asia should they arise.

    This is the second straight day in which the Giants have added a Blanco, as they reunited with outfielder Gregor Blanco on a minors pact Monday. While Andres Blanco has also played some outfield in the majors, nearly all of his work has come in the infield since he debuted with the Royals in 2004. The soon-to-be 34-year-old brings at least 95 games’ experience at second base, shortstop and third. The hot corner was Blanco’s primary spot with his previous team, the Phillies, from 2014-17, though he hasn’t graded out particularly well there during his career (minus-10 DRS, minus-6.1 UZR).

    Offensively, the switch-hitting Blanco has been a below-average producer across 1,321 plate appearances (.256/.310/.378), and he’s coming off a miserable year in which he hit .192/.257/.292 in 144 PAs. He wasn’t able to find a major league deal as a result, but it was a different story a year ago. Then fresh off parts of three consecutive solid seasons at the plate (.274/.337/.457 in 523 PAs), Blanco tested free agency before ultimately re-signing with the Phillies for $3MM.

    As he did in Philly, Blanco will attempt to fill a utility role in San Francisco, which has established starters across the infield in first baseman Brandon Belt, second baseman Joe Panik, shortstop Brandon Crawford and third baseman Evan Longoria. Pablo Sandoval and Kelby Tomlinson are the current backup infielders on the Giants’ projected 25-man roster.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Giants To Sign Gregor Blanco To Minor-League Deal]]> 2018-01-30T19:43:35Z 2018-01-30T19:43:55Z Jan. 30: FanRag’s Jon Heyman tweets that Blanco would earn $1MM upon making the MLB roster and can pocket another $500K based on plate-appearance incentives.

    Jan. 29: The Giants and Gregor Blanco have agreed to terms on a contract that will bring the outfielder back to San Francisco. Blanco himself announced the reunion on his Instagram account. Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets that it’s a minor-league deal.

    Blanco, 34, will return to a Giants team with whom he played from 2012-2016 and won two World Series rings. During his years in San Francisco, he was a roughly league-average hitter, slashing .259/.338/.360 (99 wRC+) across 2,054 plate appearances. A good portion of Blanco’s value came from his outfield defense and base-stealing ability. Though he never hit well during the postseason, he managed to walk 11.9% of the time during October of 2012 and 2014 combined, and crossed the plate a total of 20 times in 33 games.

    Blanco’s tenure with the Giants game to an end following a 2016 season that saw him hit the DL in August with a right shoulder injury. The Diamondbacks elected to scoop him up on a minor-league deal last offseason, and the team ended up selecting his contract on May 5th following the transfer of the injured Shelby Miller to the 60-day DL. Blanco went on to hit .246/.337/.357 across 256 plate appearances while playing a reserve outfielder role.

    Though Blanco is now 34 and his speed isn’t what it once was, he still has a shot to split playing time with the newly-signed Austin Jackson in center field. Indeed; a platoon combination of the two makes a lot of sense; the left-handed-hitting Blanco is a 98 wRC+ hitter against righties for his career, while his mark against lefties is 13 points beneath that. Meanwhile the right-handed-hitting Jackson absolutely demolished lefites last year, to the tune of a .357/.440/.574 batting line.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Alonzo Powell To Undergo Surgery For Prostate Cancer]]> 2018-01-28T20:41:53Z 2018-01-28T20:41:53Z
  • In search of left-handed relief help, the Athletics “made some offers to some guys; we just weren’t able to get them here,” manager Bob Melvin informed Jane Lee of and other reporters Saturday (Twitter link). One offer went to Brian Duensing, who turned down a deal worth $3MM more than the two-year, $7MM pact he took to re-up with the Cubs, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The A’s also attempted to pick up outfielder Austin Jackson on a one-year deal, but the Giants reeled him in with a two-year, $6MM contract. Now, Oakland’s not discussing any “significant free agents,” Slusser writes.
  • Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic has an excellent, free-to-read piece on new Giants hitting coach Alonzo Powell, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer Jan. 2 and will undergo prostate removal surgery on Tuesday. Powell’s support system includes his wife, Jana, as well as both the San Francisco and Houston organizations (he was the Astros’ assistant hitting coach from 2015-17), which Baggarly details. The Giants have been invaluable to Powell, as they took over his medical care after scans showed his cancer had spread to his bones. Had that been accurate, surgery would not have been an option for Powell, who would have instead had to go through a year of chemotherapy and radiation. But the Giants’ chief internist, Dr. Robert Murray, was skeptical of those results, and he had Powell undergo another bone scan that ultimately returned good news. After his surgery, Powell will need “daily radiation treatments for several weeks,” Baggarly writes, but the hope is he’ll be with the Giants when their pitchers and catchers report to spring training Feb. 13. We join those around the game in rooting for Powell to achieve that goal.
  • ]]>
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Orioles Acquire Engelb Vielma]]> 2018-01-26T20:28:07Z 2018-01-26T20:24:58Z The Orioles announced that they’ve acquired infielder Engelb Vielma from the Giants in exchange for a player to be named later or cash. Roch Kubatko of had reported just a minute or so prior that the two sides had completed a minor trade (Twitter link).

    It’s been a busy few months for Vielma, who has gone from the Twins to the Giants to the Phillies to the Pirates and back to the Giants before today’s trade. The switch-hitting infielder doesn’t come with Major League experience, and hasn’t hit much in the minors. However, scouting reports tout his excellent defensive skills, making him a possible option for the Orioles, who are in need of a utility infielder.

    Vielma, 23, has spent the vast majority of his career in the minors playing shortstop, though he also has experience at both second base and third base. He’s a career .256/.316/.302 hitter in the minors and spent the 2017 season between the Twins’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliate, posting a combined .229/.273/.280 batting line in 455 plate appearances.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Giants To Sign Chris Heston]]> 2018-01-24T15:50:33Z 2018-01-24T15:50:33Z The Giants have agreed to a minor-league deal to bring righty Chris Heston back into the fold, according to a report from Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area. Other terms of the contract are not yet known.

    Heston, 29, is a former 12th-round pick who debuted in the majors with the Giants back in 2014. He went on to turn in a strong rookie campaign in the following year, etching his name permanently into organizational lore with a no-hitter.

    Unfortunately, Heston’s career has largely sputtered since. With mounting injuries and marginal output on the hill, he has thrown just 11 MLB frames over the ensuing two seasons. Heston spent time with three organizations last year after San Francisco dealt him to the Mariners in advance of the 2017 campaign.

    While expectations won’t be very high at this point, the move could certainly help bolster the Giants’ pitching depth. The team has parted with a few MLB pitching assets to improve in other areas, so non-roster players could play an important role if needs arise during the course of the season. While it’s hard to imagine Heston earning a roster spot this spring, he’s said to be healthy and could take up a key spot on the Giants depth chart.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Giants Still Monitoring Outfield Market, Don’t Plan To Exceed Luxury Tax Barrier]]> 2018-01-24T05:09:57Z 2018-01-24T02:04:27Z The Giants shored up their outfield mix with yesterday’s addition of Austin Jackson on a two-year, $6MM contract — threading the luxury tax needle by adding a veteran that serves as an upgrade while still squeezing in just south of the $197MM barrier. That doesn’t leave much room for further upgrades, but executive vice president of baseball ops Brian Sabean and GM Bobby Evans tell reporters that the Giants are still open to supplementing their outfield (links via Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area and John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle).

    Notably, Sabean suggests that Jackson was “probably not” signed to be the team’s everyday center fielder. “I don’t know that in his recent history he’s been able to go out there in that fashion,” Sabean says of Jackson. San Francisco is still exploring some low-salary trade options, and prospect Steven Duggar remains a candidate to win the job (if not in Spring Training, certainly later in the season). Duggar, though, has just 232 minor league games under his belt, with only 60 of those coming in Double-A and just 13 in Triple-A.

    San Francisco remains confident in its ability to acquire an additional outfielder via trade, Pavlovic writes. That’ll likely require prying loose a pre-arbitration player making near the league minimum, as the Giants are now within about $2.1MM of the luxury threshold (per Cot’s Contracts). Such assets are the types with which teams are typically loath to part, though the Brewers have reportedly been exploring trade scenarios involving their potential outfield surplus, with names like Keon Broxton and Brett Phillips circulating on the rumor mill.

    The waiver circuit could present another option for the Giants as rosters are shuffled leading up to Spring Training; numerous players with some degree of big league experience figure to become available in coming weeks as teams clear roster space for veteran additions. That was the manner by which the Tigers plucked Mikie Mahtook from the Rays last year, acquiring him for a player to be named later and enjoying a fairly productive year out of the former first-rounder. (Speculatively speaking, Mahtook himself could be an option for the Giants, as the rebuilding Tigers will likely be willing to listen on virtually any player.)

    If the Giants don’t succeed in landing another option to take over in center field, it seems that Jackson, Duggar, Austin Slater and Gorkys Hernandez will vie for time in center field to open the season. At the very least, it wouldn’t come as much of a surprise to the Giants add a left-handed-hitting veteran on a minor league deal. Jackson, Hernandez, Hunter Pence and Andrew McCutchen all swing from the right side of the dish, so adding a lefty to create more matchup flexibility in the event that the left-handed-hitting Duggar opens the season in the minors seems logical.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Giants Sign Austin Jackson]]> 2018-01-24T00:21:11Z 2018-01-23T23:55:20Z Jan. 23: Heyman tweets that Jackson will earn $3MM in each year of the deal. His 2019 base salary can rise by $1MM based on the number of plate appearances he tallies in 2018, and his 2019 salary can rise by $1.5MM based on that season’s plate appearance total.

    Jan. 22: The Giants have announced the signing of outfielder Austin Jackson, as Jon Heyman of Fan Rag first reported (via Twitter). It’s said to be a two-year, $6MM guarantee, but the Octagon client can also escalate his 2019 salary by as much as $2.5MM if he meets certain plate appearance-based targets, as Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic explains on Twitter.


    Jackson, who’ll soon turn 31, turned in a nice bounceback campaign in 2017 after three straight seasons of subpar offensive production. Over 318 plate appearances with the Indians, he posted a .318/.387/.482 batting line with seven home runs and three steals.

    Though there’s obviously some promise in that output, it comes with a few caveats. On offense, Jackson benefited from a .385 batting average on ball in play that isn’t likely to be repeated. And his is wOBA of .378 widely outpaced his Statcast-based xwOBA of .335. (For what it’s worth, too, he mostly succeeded by dominating left-handed pitching. He has typically carried reverse splits, so it’s somewhat unclear how that ought to be interpreted.)

    Importantly, too, Jackson is no longer a top-end asset in the field and on the bases. He has floated in range of average in both areas in recent years, but generally has graded as a slightly below-average fielder for the past several campaigns. It seems reasonable to believe he can still handle center, at least on a part-time basis, but he’ll surely be put to the test at the spacious AT&T Park.

    [RELATED: Updated Giants Depth Chart]

    There’s plenty of reason to wonder whether Jackson will be capable of coming close to repeating his output from 2017. But the contract seems to be a reasonable one for a player who has had success in both the recent and the more distant past. Certainly, the price is right for the Giants. This move dovetails with the team’s reported preference to fill out a roster without going past the luxury line.

    As things stand, Jackson arguably sits atop the San Francisco depth chart in center field. That said, Giants GM Bobby Evans says that Jackson will “provide additional depth at all three outfield positions,” suggesting that the club does not expect to hand him the reins to the regular job in center. (Via John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, on Twitter).

    The question, then, turns to what other options the Giants have to round out their outfield mix. Internally, right-handed hitters include Gorkys Hernandez, Austin Slater, and Mac Williamson. While the first two of those players are capable of  seeing time in center, they wouldn’t add much functionality beyond what Jackson provides, particularly since the team’s veteran corner outfielders — Hunter Pence and Andrew McCutchen — both hit from the right side. The lefty-swinging, out-of-options Jarrett Parker is another option, up the middle, though his recent output does not inspire much confidence.

    So, what options remain for the Giants? If a golden opportunity arises to add a higher-end player, particularly a left-handed hitter, then perhaps a move past the luxury tax line could still occur. Alternatively, as Baggarly notes on Twitter, the club could chase a pre-arb player while staying just shy of the tax, though that’d presumably mean either taking a risk on a less-than-certain asset or giving up good value in return. Free agents like Ben Revere could still be pursued, but anyone achievable at a bargain rate likely won’t be a good enough performer to bump Jackson into reserve duties. Of course, the team also surely hopes that left-handed-hitting prospect Steven Duggar will prove himself ready for a MLB trial in relatively short order. If the team truly believes in him but also wants a more established player to open the season without bypassing the luxury line, it’ll have to get rather creative.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 1/23/18]]> 2018-01-23T20:27:35Z 2018-01-23T18:59:02Z We’ll track the day’s minor moves in this post:

    • Outfielder Jacob May was outrighted by the White Sox after clearing waivers, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy reports. Likewise, Angels lefty Nate Smith is headed for Triple-A via outright. Both were designated for assignment recently.
    • Infielder Ty Kelly is returning to the Mets, per SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter). The 29-year-old first reached the bigs in New York and also spent time in the majors last year with the Phillies. He has hit well at times in the upper minors but has yet to translate that to the majors in limited opportunities.
    • The Tigers have purchased the contract of lefty Caleb Thielbar from the St. Paul Saints, per an announcement from the indy ball club. Soon to turn 31, Thielbar hasn’t seen the majors since 2015. In 98 2/3 total innings at the game’s highest level, though, he has pitched to a 2.74 ERA with 7.2 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9. He was released by the Marlins just before the start of the 2017 season after competing for a job in camp.
    • Righty Carlos Frias is re-joining the Indians on a minors pact, the club announced. The 28-year-old, who has not seen substantial MLB time since 2015, stumbled to an 8.05 ERA with an ugly 21:22 K/BB ratio at Triple-A last year with the Cleveland organization.
    • The Angels have re-signed lefty John Lamb, Cotillo tweets. Once a well-regarded prospect, the 27-year-old saw his career derailed by back issues. He did throw 139 innings at Triple-A last year with the Halos organization, though he managed only a 5.44 ERA with 5.2 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9.
    • Reliever Bryan Harper has re-joined the Nationals on a minor-league deal with a spring invite, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports on Twitter. Bryce’s older brother has never been seen as a major asset, but he’s an accomplished minor-league reliever. He missed all of 2017 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but has allowed less than three earned runs per nine in over a hundred frames in the upper minors.
    • Outfielder Matt Lipka is joining the Giants organization on a minor-league deal, Cotillo also tweets. A first-round pick in the 2010 draft, Lipka has not yet shown that he can hand the bat in the upper minors. He posted a .754 OPS in 370 plate appearances last year at the High-A level, but limped to a .160/.216/.223 slash over his 102 trips to the plate at Double-A.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[MLBTR Poll: Grading The Giants’ Offseason To Date]]> 2018-01-23T14:38:33Z 2018-01-23T14:36:40Z The winter isn’t over — far from it, in fact — but a few teams have gone further than others in determining their direction for the coming season. Out in San Francisco, there’s no question that the Giants are pushing in some chips in hopes of rebounding from a miserable 2017 season, while at the same time avoiding a wholesale raid on the farm or major long-term contract entanglements.

    Walking that kind of tightrope is never easy. For an organization with so many major contract commitments already on the books, there was an obvious risk both in going too far and not far enough. Let’s not forget that the Giants initially set out in pursuit of Giancarlo Stanton, too, suggesting both that the team would have blown past the luxury tax line in some circumstances (and perhaps may still) and also that the ultimate series of moves was (at least in part) something of a backup plan.

    Having entered the offseason with glaring holes at several positions, and the above-noted limitations on resources, here’s what the Giants front office has come up with thus far:

    In the aggregate, the organization has parted with some youthful assets and MLB pitching depth while reallocating those resources (including Moore’s $9MM salary) to other areas of need. And the team is still flying just beneath the luxury tax line, with the inclusion of Span in the Longoria swap helping to manage the accounting.

    The results surely aren’t bombproof. Longoria and McCutchen, the two main additions, are no longer the superstars they once were. Meanwhile, the San Francisco pitching staff will need to rely on some unproven youngsters. Even having bypassed several internal options to make Jackson the anticipated fourth outfielder, the team still needs to acquire a center fielder (or choose one from within) to take regular time or platoon with Jackson.

    There’s an optimistic view here, too. While Longo and Cutch aren’t likely to carry the club, they don’t need to do that to justify their additions. Both are still in their early thirties and it would hardly be surprising to find there are still a few more high-quality seasons left, given their undeniable talent levels. The pitching reductions may feel somewhat riskier than they really are, as the Giants do have quite a few arms on the rise. And it seems reasonable to expect that the front office already has a pretty good idea of what its options are in center. The team could still land a bigger asset if the opportunity is right; or, it can stay beneath the luxury tax line while relying on cheaper options. Retaining that flexibility while still making notable gains in roster quality was surely a chief aim.

    Of course, the offseason is still not over. But many if not most or all of the team’s significant moves are in the books; at a minimum, we can see how they’ve set the stage for completing things in the next few weeks. So, we’ll turn it over to the MLBTR readership for a mid-term offseason grade (link for app users):

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Quick Hits: Pace Of Play, Prospects, Orioles, McCutchen]]> 2018-01-22T18:55:54Z 2018-01-22T15:56:26Z In his latest column for The Athletic, Ken Rosenthal chats with five playersMax Scherzer, Daniel Murphy, Paul Goldschmidt, Jerry Blevins and Chris Iannetta — about their concerns over the proposed 20-second pitch clock and their more general thoughts on the league’s pace of play initiatives. All of the players express a willingness to change and acknowledge that they’re in favor of speeding up the game to an extent, though none voiced support of a clock. Iannetta states that the clock “fundamentally changes the way the game is played,” while Goldschmidt shares some concerns he’s heard from Double-A and Triple-A players that have played with the clock but found it to be a headache.

    “In some cases, I heard of ways around the rule,” says Goldschmidt. “You could kind of gimmick it. You could slow down the game. You could step off. It wasn’t like it just forced guys to throw pitches a lot quicker. There was a lot of gray area guys weren’t comfortable with.” Both Scherzer and Blevins, meanwhile, expressed some frustration with the fact that they’re routinely on the mound ready to go but have to wait an additional 20-30 seconds for commercial breaks to end. It’s an interesting read for those who have strong feelings, one way or another, on the newest slate of proposed rule changes to the game.

    A few more notes from around the league…

    • It’s prospect ranking season! Baseball America rolled out their 2018 Top 100 list today, headlined by Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna in the top spot. Of course, the decision was far from easy for them, and the BA staff explained the decision process at length in a separate post for BA subscribers. As JJ Cooper, Ben Badler, Kyle Glaser, Josh Norris and Matt Eddy explain in great detail, there were feelings among the BA staff that any of Acuna, Shohei Ohtani or Vladimir Guerrero Jr. could have been the No. 1 overall prospect this season. Among the factors considered when trying to reach a consensus were the age-old position player vs. pitcher debate as well as Acuna’s proximity to the Majors relative to Guerrero.
    • Meanwhile, over at ESPN, Keith Law published the first half of his Top 100 prospects today. There are several notable players that have been traded in the past year on the back half of the list, including Sandy Alcantara (whom the Marlins received as the headliner in the Marcell Ozuna swap), James Kaprielian (who went to the Athletics as part of last July’s Sonny Gray trade) and Franklin Perez and Daz Cameron (who went to the Tigers in the Justin Verlander blockbuster). Angels fans will be heartened to see four entrants on the list — Jahmai Jones, Chris Rodriguez, Brandon Marsh and Jo Adell — as their once lowly farm system begins to build back up.
    • Dan Connolly of looks at the Orioles’ need for a left-handed-hitting outfielder to balance out the lineup and runs down a list of players that have “intrigued various members of the organization.” That includes Carlos Gonzalez, Melky Cabrera and Nori Aoki, according to Connolly, in addition to other names that have been recently mentioned (e.g. Jarrod Dyson). Trey Mancini and Adam Jones figure to be in the outfield regularly, but the Orioles’ hope is that they can acquire a defensively superior option to Mark Trumbo to slot into right field, thus pushing Trumbo to DH.
    • In a fantastic column for the Players’ Tribune, Andrew McCutchen bids an emotional farewell to the city of Pittsburgh, which he writes “will always be home” and “will always mean everything” to him. McCutchen recounts the overwhelming experience of the standing ovation he received at the Pirates’ final home game of the season last year, as Bucs fans recognized that they may never see him in a Pirates uniform again. He also shares his experience of finding out about the trade, with credit to Neal Huntington for how he handled the process. Fans of the Pirates, Giants and baseball in general will all want to check out the column in its entirety.
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Should The Giants Make A Play For Darvish?]]> 2018-01-22T00:55:17Z 2018-01-22T00:53:41Z
  • There hasn’t been any connection between Yu Darvish and the Giants this winter, though The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly (subscription required) opines that San Francisco should offer the free agent hurler a one-year deal in the $30MM range.  Essentially, Baggarly is proposing a very high-priced version of the “pillow contract” strategy, wherein Darvish would build more value in 2018 with an eye towards finally landing a major long-term deal next winter.  Such a contract would put the Giants over the luxury tax threshold for 2018, though they’d avoid another multi-year commitment while landing a star pitcher for a roster clearly designed to win now.
  • ]]>
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Brewers Reportedly Close To Making Trade]]> 2018-01-22T02:51:01Z 2018-01-21T22:32:56Z There’s “buzz” that the Brewers are closing in on a trade, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports. Crasnick doesn’t offer any details about an exact trade partner or players involved, though he notes that the Brewers have been discussing outfielders with multiple teams (Twitter link).

    At present, the Brewers have several outfielders who are either established major leaguers or players who are closing in on regular roles. The group includes Ryan Braun, Domingo Santana, Keon Broxton, Brett Phillips and Lewis Brinson. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported earlier this month that the Brewers could move someone from that quintet for much-needed starting pitching and to open up room for free agent center fielder Lorenzo Cain. The 31-year-old Cain was a “frequent topic of conversation” for Milwaukee’s front office, Rosenthal wrote at the time.

    If a deal does happen, it won’t be with San Francisco, according to Crasnick, even though the Giants and Brewers discussed Santana and Broxton earlier this offseason. The White Sox, on the other hand, are a possibility, Crasnick suggests (via Twitter).

    Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel adds (on Twitter) that the Brewers have been shopping Santana since last month’s Winter Meetings, and he notes that they’re also in the market for second base help. Milwaukee received disappointing production at the keystone most of last season from Jonathan Villar, who remains in the fold. Villar’s down season led the Brewers to acquire Neil Walker last August. Although Walker thrived during his month and a half with the Brewers, he’s currently a free agent.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Finding A Center Fielder For The Giants]]> 2018-01-20T17:37:23Z 2018-01-20T06:17:31Z The Giants’ acquisitions of Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria have added a pair of offensive upgrades to their lineup, but the team is still facing a glaring hole in center field. Improving the outfield, both offensively and defensively, has been a long-stated goal of GM Bobby Evans and executive vice president Brian Sabean. However, the Giants are also said to be aiming to remain underneath the luxury tax threshold, which is calculated based on the average annual value of their players’ contracts and is set at $197MM for the 2018 season.

    As presently constructed, the Giants don’t have much flexibility with regard to those self-imposed restrictions. (They’ve exceeded the luxury tax four years running now, so they certainly have the resources to do so if they change course. Various observers have given different indications of the team’s willingness to do so.) The exact amount of wiggle room the Giants have is difficult to pin down, but most projections give them about $4.5MM to spend. Cot’s Contracts, more specifically, gives the Giants $4.462MM before pushing up against that mark. Of course, it’s also important to bear in mind that salary additions and subtractions during the course of the season factor into whether or not a team ultimately enters the luxury tax space.

    The Giants could certainly still trade a veteran player in order to clear some payroll and open up their options a bit more. However, the Giants’ highest-paid players are either core pieces (Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt) or expensive veterans coming off poor seasons that San Francisco would be hard-pressed to trade even if the team is inclined to do so (Hunter Pence, Mark Melancon, Johnny Cueto). The Giants could move a reliever such as Sam Dyson, who’s set to earn $4.425MM in 2018, which would roughly double their current level of spending room. Cory Gearrin ($1.675MM) and Hunter Strickland ($1.55MM) are both movable assets that could create some additional wiggle room, albeit at the cost of major league production.

    Suffice it to say, a pricey addition along the lines of Lorenzo Cain — free agency’s top center fielder — seems decidedly unlikely unless the Giants decide to zip past the luxury tax line. Another open-market center field option, Carlos Gomez, also seems well beyond their current price range. A trade for Jacoby Ellsbury — an oft-suggested scenario from optimistic Yankees fans — certainly doesn’t fit into their budget, even if the Yankees eat half of the remaining money on Ellsbury’s deal. Christian Yelich? Giants fans would love to have him, but their thin farm isn’t going to produce the top offer the Marlins receive for one of the game’s more alluring trade chips.

    The Giants have been connected to second-tier free agents since trading for Andrew McCutchen and announcing that he’ll move to right field, and there are myriad avenues that they could pursue while ever so narrowly sidestepping that $197MM roadblock. A few speculative options to consider, bearing in mind that the goal is to add someone who could conceivably had within a tight budget and can at least play average defense in center…

    Free Agents

    Jarrod Dyson | Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

    Jarrod Dyson: The 33-year-old veteran is tops on the Giants’ list of targets, per ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, and it’s not hard to see why. Giants outfielders, in addition to posting a dismal .253/.311/.374 as a collective unit last season, also turned in a ghastly -32 DRS and -5.3 UZR. Their defensive, on the whole, was dreadful. Enter Dyson. At some point, it’s fair to worry that his speed and defense will decline, but his UZR/150 of 13.8 over the past three seasons (min. 1000 innings in the field) ranks 12th among all Major Leaguers at any position. He’d require a platoon partner given his career .215/.293/.259 slash against lefties (Austin Slater, perhaps).

    It seems unlikely, though, that Dyson could be had for under $5MM annually. Signing him might require the Giants to move a reliever such as Dyson, as previously speculated.

    Jon Jay: Crasnick listed Jay second among the Giants’ center-field targets in free agency, so it’s clear that San Francisco has some degree of interest. Jay would bring more offense to the position than Dyson, having posted roughly league-average (or better) offense in seven of his eight Major League seasons, by measure of OPS+ and wRC+. Jay is a left-handed hitter but has only a minimal platoon split in his career. He’s hit righties at a .289/.354/.392 clip and lefties at a .288/.359/.353 pace.

    Jay, however, doesn’t have anywhere close to Dyson’s defensive skill set. He has rated as an above-average center fielder at times in the past, but he spent more time in the corners than in center with the Cubs last season and had below-average defensive ratings in center in consecutive seasons. Granted, even below-average would be an improvement for the Giants, who saw the since-traded Denard Span struggle considerably there in 2017. Jay, like Dyson, figures to cost more than $5MM annually, so signing him might require a corresponding trade if the Giants want to remain under the tax threshold.

    Cameron Maybin / Rajai Davis: Maybin and Davis are similar in that each hits from the short side of the platoon, provides superlative baserunning skills and can generally be relied on in center field (despite lackluster ratings there in recent years). As the younger of the two, Maybin would be the pricier option, though Crasnick listed him third on the Giants’ list of center field targets in free agency.

    The rest of the market is fairly light on players that could be reasonably expected to hold down a regular role in the outfield. Ben Revere could be a theoretical platoon pairing with Gorkys Hernandez in center, or if the Giants are looking more at reserve types, they could add a defensive-minded veteran like Peter Bourjos to the mix. But, if they’re looking to at a cost-effective center fielder, Dyson is perhaps the best bet. More options would present themselves on the trade market, however. (Although, today’s trade of Randal Grichuk to the Blue Jays eliminated one of the more logical options for San Francisco.)

    Trade Options

    Billy Hamilton, Reds ($4.6MM salary, controlled through 2019): Hamilton is the most frequently linked center field target to the Giants, and he’d fit their needs both in terms of budget and improving the defense. Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer, though, recently reported that talks between the two teams have gone “dormant,” adding that Hamilton may very well open the year in Cincinnati.

    Keon Broxton | Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Keon Broxton (pre-arb, controlled through 2022) / Brett Phillips (pre-arb, controlled through 2023), Brewers: The Brewers have reportedly been shopping some outfielders around, and Broxton’s league minimum salary and power/speed blend would figure to intrigue the Giants. Broxton has 29 homers and 45 steals in just 709 MLB plate appearances, but he’s whiffed in a stunning 37.2 percent of his plate appearances. His defense rated excellently in 2016 but poorly in 2017. Phillips has less big league experience and similar strikeout issues, though he’s not far removed from grading out as one of the game’s best overall prospects. Milwaukee has also reportedly taken offers on Domingo Santana, but he’s more of a corner option and would have a higher asking price on the heels of a 30-homer season.

    Juan Lagares, Mets ($6.5MM in 2018, $9MM in 2019): Lagares’ remaining salaries are part of a four-year, $23MM deal that the Giants could manage to fit into their payroll by shedding one other player with a relatively modest contract (perhaps sending a big leaguer back to the Mets in return). Lagares hasn’t hit much in the past two seasons as he’s been slowed by hand injuries, but he has a sterling defensive reputation; he notched a +15 DRS mark and +10.4 UZR in just 556 innings in center this past season. Lagares has been connected to the Giants already this winter, though New York doesn’t have a great center field alternative (defensively speaking) on its roster. Brandon Nimmo’s name has also come up in trade talks, though the Mets don’t seem keen to move him unless they’re getting an MLB piece back. (Fire away with your Joe Panik speculation, though such a move would open another hole in San Francisco.)

    Tyler Naquin, Indians (pre-arb, controlled through 2022): With Michael Brantley, Bradley Zimmer and Lonnie Chisenhall set to line up in Cleveland’s outfield, there’s no obvious spot for Naquin, who was an odd man out for much of the 2017 campaign as well (40 MLB plate appearances). Naquin hit well (.298/.359/.475) in Triple-A, though, and had a big, albeit BABIP-inflated, rookie season with the Indians in 2016. Both Brantley and Chisenhall are injury-prone and are free agents next winter, however, so perhaps Cleveland isn’t too keen on depleting its infield depth all that much.

    Odubel Herrera ($3.35MM in 2018, owed $28.9MM through 2021, plus two club options) / Aaron Altherr (pre-arb, controlled through 2021) / Nick Williams (pre-arb, controlled through 2023), Phillies: With Rhys Hoskins moving to left field to accommodate Carlos Santana, there are only two spots for these three in Philadelphia. Herrera is the only true center fielder here, though all three have experience there in the minors. The Philadelphia organization may simply share time between those three players while allowing performance to dictate its future decisions. Even if they’re willing to deal from this group, the Phils would likely be on the lookout for MLB-ready rotation help, which makes the Giants a tough match in a deal. (San Fran would also need to shed a bit of cash to fit Herrera’s five-year, $30.5MM deal under the luxury tax bar.) Feel free to dream up three-team trade scenarios accordingly, if you’re so inclined.

    Michael Taylor, Nationals ($2.525MM, controlled through 2020): It’s hard to see the Nats parting with Taylor unless they received some definitive MLB help back in exchange — likely behind the plate or in the form of someone that’s a clear upgrade at the fifth spot in their rotation. The Giants don’t really have either of those things to offer, but the fit otherwise works on paper, especially with top prospect Victor Robles looming after briefly reaching the majors late in 2017.

    Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Market For Eduardo Nunez Reportedly Picking Up]]> 2018-01-19T18:34:56Z 2018-01-19T18:34:56Z
  • Also via Heyman, Eduardo Nunez is seeing his market “heat up” a bit. There are as many as eight teams that have shown interest in Nunez of late, including the Mets, Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Giants, BravesBrewers and Royals. (Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area recently suggested that a reunion with San Francisco wasn’t likely, implying that Nunez can receive superior offers elsewhere.) Heyman joins others that have recently reported that Nunez is on the Mets’ radar as a second base option. The Yankees, Red Sox, Braves and Brewers all make varying degrees of sense as well, though it’s tougher to see a clear fit with the Jays, Giants and Royals for various reasons. Toronto has already added Aledmys Diaz and Yangervis Solarte this winter (with Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis both still on board as well), while the Giants picked up Evan Longoria and are reportedly striving to remain under the luxury tax threshold. Nunez would almost certainly put them over, as they’re within less than $5MM of that point at present. As for the Royals, they could use a versatile infielder, but they’re also gearing up for a rebuild.

  • ]]>
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On Giants' Outfield Situation]]> 2018-01-19T06:00:18Z 2018-01-19T04:11:02Z
  • Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area tackled some questions from Giants fans. The outfield remains a key point of focus, of course. With Andrew McCutchen expected to play every day in right, Austin Slater could share time in left with Hunter Pence while also picking up some action in center, says Pavlovic. That doesn’t mean the team is bowing out of the pursuit of another up-the-middle player, of course — or that Slater has locked up a roster spot. (He’ll be competing in camp with Jarrett Parker, Mac Williamson, and Gorkys Hernandez.) There’s one other notable name to consider in the internal mix. But as Pavlovic wrote yesterday, the San Francisco front office seems inclined to take its time with center fielder Steven Duggar“This is a time of year when you would rather have Duggar in your back pocket and bring in a center fielder that allows us to have more time,” GM Bobby Evans explains. Of course, the club has little wiggle room if it hopes to stay under the luxury tax line; it remains to be seen just how the outfield mix will look when camp opens.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Giants Acquire Engelb Vielma]]> 2018-01-18T23:51:11Z 2018-01-18T23:51:11Z The Giants have acquired infielder Engelb Vielma from the Pirates, John Dreker of Pirates Prospects reports on Twitter. Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review first tweeted that Vielma was on the move; he had been designated for assignment recently.

    This’ll be Vielma’s second stop in San Francisco — on paper, at least. He is one of several names that has already bounced from roster to roster via minor trades and the waiver wire this winter, as typically occurs for players that are on the margins of 40-man roster viability. For Vielma, this is the fourth time he has changed hands since September.

    Whether the 23-year-old will end up sticking with the Giants organization remains to be seen. The club could still expose him to waivers again in an attempt to stash him as a non-roster player. Even if he makes it into camp on the 40-man, Vielma will no doubt need to show he’s worthy of continuing to occupy a roster spot.

    Known as a high-end defender who can handle shortstop, Vielma has not yet demonstrated that he’ll hit much when he ultimately reaches the game’s highest level. He was placed on the Twins’ 40-man to protect him from the Rule 5 draft in advance of the 2017 season, but went on to slash just .229/.273/.280 in 455 total plate appearances split between Double-A and Triple-A.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Hamilton Talks Between Reds, Giants Are "Dormant"]]> 2018-01-17T23:26:03Z 2018-01-17T23:26:03Z While Billy Hamilton’s name has been oft-mentioned in trade rumblings this offseason, a deal involving the Reds’ fleet-footed center fielder may not be all that likely, writes Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer. San Francisco’s acquisition of Andrew McCutchen doesn’t have much of an impact on the Giants’ chances of swinging a deal for Hamilton as they look to add a strong defender with their (limited) remaining financial resources. But, Buchanan reports after speaking with multiple sources, a deal was looking “unlikely” anyhow. Talks between the Giants and Reds regarding Hamilton have gone “dormant,” per Buchanan, adding that one source expects Hamilton to be in Cincinnati come Opening Day.

    • ESPN’s Keith Law offers his opinion (subscription required and recommended) on the Pirates’ trade for McCutchen, whom he calls a “great” pickup for the Giants, given the putrid output they received from their outfield in 2017 and the low bar that McCutchen has to clear. While neither Kyle Crick nor outfield prospect Bryan Reynolds is an elite young talent, Law opines, Crick offers a potential long-term option in the bullpen and is the type of arm that can “sometimes turn to gold via the alchemy of baseball” despite his history of below-average command (a trait that he did improve in 2017). He calls Reynolds “very interesting,” adding that he considered Reynolds’ to be San Francisco’s second-best prospect at the time of the trade.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Giants Still Pursuing Center Fielders, Will Play McCutchen In Right Field]]> 2018-01-16T23:32:59Z 2018-01-16T22:41:34Z If there were any questions as to where Andrew McCutchen would play with his new team in 2018, the Giants decisively answered them in a conference call with reporters today (link via Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle). Manager Bruce Bochy flatly told the media that McCutchen will be his right fielder in 2018, with Hunter Pence shifting across the outfield and playing left field for the first time in his MLB career (excluding a brief appearance there during the 2011 All-Star Game).

    That, of course, leaves the Giants with a noted gap in center field, but GM Bobby Evans said today that he’s still exploring both the trade and free-agent market for center fielders. San Francisco will be hard-pressed to sign a notable free agent to play there, though, if the team is to stick to its goal of remaining beneath the luxury tax threshold of $197MM. Per Cot’s Contracts, the Giants are currently $4.8MM shy of that barrier, even when including the cash the team picked up from the Pirates and Rays as part of the McCutchen and Evan Longoria acquisitions.

    Notably, Schulman adds that ownership has not mandated that the Giants stay under the luxury threshold, so it remains conceivable that the team could simply change course if it feels that to be the best path back to contention an increasingly competitive NL West division.

    Obviously, there’s no real way to fit the free-agent market’s top center fielder, Lorenzo Cain, onto the Giants’ books without further trades to subtract payroll. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports (via Twitter) that the Giants’ non-Cain wishlist is topped by Jarrod Dyson. He’s followed by Jon Jay and Cameron Maybin, in that order, according to Crasnick. While no deal is close, Crasnick adds that the Giants have reached out to Dyson’s camp to express interest, but the fleet-footed free agent, who is still talking with multiple teams.

    Dyson, 33, is one of the game’s fastest players, with an average sprint speed of 28.8 ft/sec, per Statcast. Those wheels have led to consistently excellent defensive marks across all three outfield spots, though the majority of Dyson’s career has been spent in center. At the plate, he’s a career .258/.325/.352 hitter — including a .264/.331/.367 slash across the past two seasons. Dyson has also averaged 31 stolen bases per season since beginning to accumulate regular semi-regular playing time with the Royals back in 2012.

    As is the case with almost any player, Dyson brings some noted shortcomings to the table. He’s never hit more than five home runs in a season, and moving to the cavernous AT&T Park at age 33 wouldn’t figure to help him in that regard. He’s also looked more or less inept against left-handed pitching in his career, hitting just .215/.293/.259 against same-handed opponents. Neither the Royals nor the Mariners saw fit to give Dyson much time against lefties, as he’s accumulated just 341 career plate appearances against them.

    Jay and Maybin, who’ll turn 33 and 31, respectively, this spring, would bring different skills to San Francisco. Neither can match Dyson’s defensive excellence, but Jay has virtually no platoon split to speak of and has been a consistent source of solid batting averages and OBP marks in his career (.288/.355/.383). Maybin is the youngest of the bunch and also has the most power and best walk rate of the bunch. But, he’s been injury-prone and didn’t enjoy an especially strong 2017 season at the plate (.228/.318/.365). The free-agent market also features cost-effective veterans like Peter Bourjos and old friend Rajai Davis, among other unsigned center field candidates (MLBTR Free Agent Tracker link).

    The trade market could present its fair share of options as the Giants seek center fielders. San Francisco has been linked to Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton (another defensive star) on and off throughout the offseason, though Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reported just today that talks between the two sides are “dormant.” Buchanan adds that one source feels it’s likely that Hamilton will remain with the Reds for the 2018 campaign.

    Meanwhile Brewers speedster Keon Broxton has also been linked to San Francisco at times this winter, though there’s been little such talk as of late. Yankees fans will assuredly attempt to conjure up ways in which New York could jettison Jacoby Ellsbury’s contract in a trade with the Giants, though San Francisco’s proximity to the luxury tax and Ellsbury’s decline in recent years make that quite unlikely.

    [Related: San Francisco Giants depth chart and San Francisco Giants payroll]

    San Francisco also has some internal options, led by prospect Steven Duggar, who impressed the organization with a .262/.365/.445 slash across multiple minor league levels this past season. Duggar, though, has only played 13 games in Double-A, so while Evans said he expects the 24-year-old to be in the mix for the job in Spring Training, it may be asking a lot to expect the 2015 sixth-rounder to reach the Majors early in the season. In that sense, a short-term addition in center field could serve as a stopgap for Duggar, although there’s room for a longer-term adition as well, with both Pence and McCutchen slated to hit free agency next winter.

    Looking elsewhere on the roster, the addition of McCutchen and the continued pursuit of a center fielder muddies the long-term picture for outfielders Jarrett Parker, Mac Williamson and Austin Slater, each of whom has seen time on the Giants’ big league roster in recent years. Parker is out of minor league options, so he’ll need to make the 2018 roster out of Spring Training or else be exposed to waivers. Williamson has an option remaining, while Slater has all three option years left after sticking in the Majors following a June promotion.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Giants Acquire Andrew McCutchen]]> 2018-01-16T01:09:07Z 2018-01-15T23:34:37Z 5:34pm: Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets that the Pirates are covering $2.5MM of McCutchen’s $14.75MM salary.

    5:25pm: It became all the more clear on Monday that Pirates fans are looking at the end of an era, as the team announced that face of the franchise Andrew McCutchen has been traded to the Giants (along with cash considerations) in exchange for young right-hander Kyle Crick, outfield prospect Bryan Reynolds and $500K worth of international bonus pool space.

    Andrew McCutchen | MLBTR Photoshop

    Outfield help has been a priority for the Giants all offseason after last year’s collective unit combined to bat .253/.311/.374 in more than 2000 plate appearances. Inserting McCutchen into that mix should provide a significant boost on the offensive side of the equation, as the 31-year-old turned in a very strong rebound campaign at the plate in 2017, hitting .279/.363/.486 with 28 homers (his highest total since hitting 31 back in 2012).

    Of course, questions about McCutchen’s glovework persisted in 2017 — and it should be noted that the Giants’ outfield defense was the worst in baseball last year. San Francisco outfielders combined to post an MLB-worst -45 mark in Defensive Runs Saved, and they ranked just 28th with a -11.4 Ultimate Zone Rating. The since-traded Denard Span played no small role in those shortcomings, but McCutchen’s marks of -14 and -4.5 in those respective stats  don’t exactly stand out as an indicator that an extensive amount of help is on the defensive horizon.

    If the Giants were to play McCutchen in an outfield corner, perhaps he could post more meaningful contributions in that regard. At present, he figures to line up in center field, though the Giants could yet play McCutchen in left field and acquire a cost-effective center field option with a stronger defensive reputation (someone in the mold of Jarrod Dyson, speaking from a speculative standpoint).

    However, it’s important to note that there may not be room for the Giants to make much of an addition. San Francisco will add more than $9MM to its luxury tax ledger by picking up the final year of McCutchen’s deal, which should place them roughly $7MM from the threshold. San Francisco has reportedly been aiming to remain under the tax cap in order to reset its penalty level.

    [Related: Updated San Francisco Giants depth chart & San Francisco Giants payroll]

    For the Giants, McCutchen is the second notable veteran bat the team has landed via trade this offseason. San Francisco also picked up Evan Longoria in a trade that sent Christian Arroyo, Span (plus the remaining year of his contract) and a pair of minor league pitchers to the Rays. Depending on their willingness to either shed additional payroll or pivot and exceed the luxury tax for a fifth consecutive season, those two big-name acquisitions could prove to be the Giants’ primary offseason acquisitions.

    The McCutchen agreement comes just days after the Pirates shipped right-hander Gerrit Cole to the reigning World Champion Astros, further signaling a transitional period in Pittsburgh, though the pair of trades does not necessarily indicate that a full-scale tear-down is on the horizon for the Bucs. Both Cole (controlled through 2019) and McCutchen (a free agent next winter) were short-term and relatively high-priced assets — especially for a Pirates team that operates on a notoriously thin budget.

    McCutchen is slated to earn $14.75MM in the final season of his contract, whereas Cole had settled at $6.75MM in order to avoid arbitration. The Pirates, then, will be saving a combined $21.5MM with this pair of swaps — money that could, in theory, be reinvested into the 2018 roster. The Pirates have, after all, opened each of the past three season with payrolls in excess of $90MM but now project for a payroll of roughly $82MM in 2018. The Bucs could further reduce that 2018 commitment if the team ultimately finds a trade partner for infielder/outfielder Josh Harrison; the versatile veteran is slated to earn $10MM this season and, like Cole and McCutchen before him, has been an oft-mentioned trade candidate this offseason.

    [Related: Updated Pittsburgh Pirates depth chart & Pittsburgh Pirates payroll]

    Kyle Crick | Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

    The 25-year-old Crick was the 49th overall pick in the 2011 draft and ranked among baseball’s top 100 prospects from 2013-15, per various reports. While his rise through the minors was slowed by control issues, he had a strong year in 2017 after converting to the bullpen on a full-time basis.

    In 29 1/3 innings of relief in Triple-A, he posted a 2.76 ERA with 12.0 K/9, 4.0 BB/9 and a 44.3 percent ground-ball rate. That strong run led to Crick’s big league debut with the Giants; in 32 1/3 innings in the Majors, he logged a 3.06 ERA with 7.8 K/9, 4.7 BB/9 and a 37.9 percent ground-ball rate. Crick’s 95.5 mph average fastball velocity and 11 percent swinging-strike rate both pointed to the potential for his big league strikeout rate to catch up to the more impressive level he flashed in Triple-A.

    Crick is controllable through the 2023 season, so he’ll join a lengthy list of controllable assets the Bucs received in the Cole trade as a potential long-term piece that can step directly onto the roster.

    “Kyle Crick is a physical, Major League-ready right-handed reliever who brings a high-velocity, live fastball complimented by a quality slider to potentially pitch in a late inning role for the Pirates,” said Pirates GM Neal Huntington. “Kyle’s power arsenal has resulted in a high strikeout rate complimented by inducing a lot of weak contact. After his first exposure to the Major League level last season, Kyle appears ready to take the next steps in what should be a productive career as a high leverage Major League relief pitcher.”

    Reynolds, 23 later this month, was the Giants’ second-round pick in 2016 and just wrapped up a strong season in Class-A Advanced, where he hit .312/.364/.462 with 10 homers, 26 doubles and nine triples in 540 trips to the plate. Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of had him fourth among Giants prospects, while Baseball America ranked him fifth among San Francisco farmhands just a few weeks ago (before the Arroyo trade, meaning he’d now rank fourth on their list as well).

    “Bryan is an effective offensive player that also plays quality defense,” said Huntington. “We look forward to working with Bryan to maximize his tools and help him become a quality well-rounded Major League player who can impact a game in many ways beyond his quality bat.”

    As for the Pirates’ immediate future in the outfield, it’s not yet entirely clear how they’ll fill the void. Starling Marte seems likely to slide over from the corner outfield to center field, which should be a defensive upgrade over the life of a full season. Top prospect Austin Meadows showed in 2017 that he’s likely not yet ready for the Majors — Meadows hit just .250/.311/.359 in Triple-A — so the Bucs could turn to a platoon of 26-year-old Adam Frazier and veteran utility man Sean Rodriguez in left field for the time being.

    Alternatively, Pittsburgh could wait out the free agent market and see if any veterans become available on bargain deals. The corner outfield market has no shortage of experienced options (MLBTR Free Agent Tracker link), and some of those names will undoubtedly have to settle for one-year deals later this winter.

    Robert Murray and Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports first reported that talks between the two sides were picking up (Twitter link). Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that the two sides had reached an agreement (Twitter link). Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area tweeted that Crick was in the deal. Yahoo’s Jeff Passan tweeted that Reynolds was likely to be a part of the deal, and The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly confirmed as much.’s Jon Morosi reported that the Pirates would pay some of McCutchen’s salary.

    Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest On Giants’ Pursuit Of Outfielders]]> 2018-01-15T21:54:09Z 2018-01-15T20:13:26Z The Giants and Pirates are engaged in “serious talks” regarding outfielder Andrew McCutchen, according to Robert Murray and Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (Twitter link). At the same time, San Francisco is said to have “gotten more serious” in discussions with free agent Lorenzo Cain, in the words of Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter), though he also cautions the sides aren’t close to an agreement.

    It has long seemed possible that the Giants could end up landing either of these two veteran players. Certainly, the connections aren’t new. That reports have emerged on both in near proximity could be interpreted in various ways.

    Regarding McCutchen, the Pirates and Giants have reportedly discussed him in the past, though obviously nothing has come together to this point. Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area looked at the connection today as well, including the fact that the San Francisco front office has hoped the Gerrit Cole trade might free up chatter on McCutchen, who is owed $14.5MM in his final season of contract control. Per Pavlovic, the Bucs’ demands to this point have been too rich for the Giants.

    It’s possible to view the offseason developments to date from both organizations as a lead-up to a deal involving McCutchen. The Giants, who’d rather not part with draft picks as compensation for signing a qualifying-offer-bound free agent, have already traded for Evan Longoria, so there’s little question they are pushing to return to contention in 2018. And the Pirates’ recent trade of Cole clearly indicates the organization is willing to move on from highly-paid stars. McCutchen has long seemed a more obvious trade piece than was Cole.

    At the same time, it’s too soon to rule out Cain. Both players could certainly fit on the same roster; at present, only Hunter Pence — himself a question mark after a shaky 2017 season — is firmly in place in the outfield. (Our sister site, Roster Resource, currently places Steven Duggar and Jarrett Parker atop the Giants depth chart in center and left.) Of course, doing so would mean ponying up significant cash as well as prospect assets. Even if the Giants were able to secure a nice price for Cain, they’d almost surely end up flying past the luxury line and he’d unquestionably require draft compensation. Getting Cutch, too, will require only a one-year commitment but will mean parting with at least some young assets.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Giants Reportedly "Talking To" Lorenzo Cain]]> 2018-01-15T13:45:28Z 2018-01-15T03:35:57Z The Giants aren’t dead set against signing a free agent who rejected a qualifying offer, general manager Bobby Evans said this week (via Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, on Twitter). Ideally, Evans would rather not sign a player attached to draft pick compensation, though he “all but said” that the Giants are “talking to” center fielder and QO recipient Lorenzo Cain, Schulman reports. In adding Cain, who’s likely to ink one of this winter’s biggest contracts, the Giants would lose two 2018 draft picks (their second- and fifth-highest selections) and $1MM of international bonus pool space.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Should The Giants Be More Open To Surrendering Draft Picks For Free Agents?]]> 2018-01-14T20:21:35Z 2018-01-14T20:21:35Z The competitive balance tax has been a significant offseason storyline, most notably in regards to big-market teams like the Yankees, Dodgers, and Giants are all looking to stay under the threshold this winter in order to reset their tax costs and further position them for bigger spending next offseason and beyond.  While much has been made about the value of avoiding the tax,’s Mark Zuckerman notes that the actual financial cost is pretty minimal for teams (like the Nationals) who barely exceed the threshold.  For instance, the Nats’ current $199.2MM payroll puts them $2.2MM over the tax line, putting D.C. in line for a 30% tax on the overage since this would be the club’s second straight year over the threshold.  Since only the overage is taxed, however, the Nationals would only be paying an extra $660K.  Zuckerman figures that a contending team like Washington shouldn’t have any issue in paying a bit extra tax money in order to acquire a pricey trade addition during the season, especially if that player ends up helping the Nats finally enjoy some postseason success.

    • In his latest Insider-only piece,’s Buster Olney opines that the Giants’ desire to avoid giving up draft picks to sign qualifying offer-rejecting free agents may be short-sighted.  San Francisco’s veteran-heavy roster is built to win now, and signing the likes of a Lorenzo Cain would do wonders for the troubled Giants outfield, adding more immediate help than the theoretical value of the second-round pick the club would have be surrendering in order to sign Cain.
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Evan Longoria Discusses Giants Trade]]> 2018-01-14T16:51:47Z 2018-01-14T16:51:47Z
  • Evan Longoria shared some interesting details about his trade to the Giants in an appearance on the MLB Network on Friday (as detailed by’s Daniel Kramer).  Though Longoria didn’t have any leverage in the form of no-trade protection or 10-and-5 rights, he said he “kind of gave them [the Rays] a short list of teams that I thought would be a good fit for me,” specifically teams that “were going to be committed to winning, year-in and year-out.”  It isn’t known how much, if at all, Longoria’s list factored into Tampa’s decision-making, though the Giants were one of the teams included.  The Cardinals, another club linked to Longoria in trade rumors, were also on the third baseman’s list.  Longoria said he felt a trade was coming after a talk with Rays GM Erik Neander two weeks before the Giants deal was completed.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Arbitration Updates: 1/13/18]]> 2018-01-13T22:22:30Z 2018-01-13T22:22:30Z Here are the arbitration numbers we’ve learned thus far today — all of them coming via the Twitter feed of Jon Heyman of Fan Rag unless otherwise noted:

    • The Giants’ previously known deals with two righty relievers now have dollar values attached. Sam Dyson is slated to earn $4.425MM, while the team will pay righty Cory Gearrin $1.675MM. MLBTR’s Matt Swartz projected a $4.6MM award for Dyson and a $1.6MM salary for Gearrin.
    • Diamondbacks infielder Chris Owings settled out at $3.4MM, just a shade over the $3.3MM the team will pay outfielder David Peralta. Swartz had both Owings and Peralta at $3.8MM.
    • Right-hander Nick Vincent will take down a $2.75MM payday from the Mariners, coming in just north of his $2.7MM projection.
    • Astros righty Lance McCullers Jr. is set to receive $2.45MM (a bit shy of his projected $2.6MM) in his first season of arb eligibility, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets.
    • Infielder Hernan Perez receives $1.975MM from the Brewers, falling short of a $2.2MM projection.
    • The Athletics agreed yesterday with righty Liam Hendriks at $1.9MM, matching his projection, and catcher Josh Phegley for $905K. Swartz had Phegley at $1.1MM.
    • White Sox third baseman Yolmer Sanchez has filed at $2.35MM while the team countered at $2.1MM – the same as his projection.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Players Avoiding Arbitration: National League]]> 2018-01-13T06:28:47Z 2018-01-12T21:10:22Z The deadline for MLB teams to exchange salary arbitration figures with their arbitration-eligible players is today at 1pm ET. As such, there will be a veritable flood of arb agreements piling up in the next few hours — especially in light of a more universal approach to the “file and trial” method for teams. (That is to say, those teams will no longer negotiate one-year deals after arb figures are exchanged and will instead head to a hearing with those players, barring an agreemenr on a multi-year deal.)

    Note that you can keep an eye on all of today’s deals using MLBTR’s 2018 Arbitration Tracker, which can be filtered to show only the results of the team you follow and is also sortable by service time and dollar value of the agreement. All projections that are referenced come from MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz’s annual compilation of projected arbitration salaries.

    Onto today’s landslide of deals…

    National League West

    • The Rockies have agreed to a $2MM salary with righty Chad Bettis, MLBTR has learned (Twitter link). That’s a fair sight more than his $1.5MM projection. Bettis surely would have had an opportunity to set a bigger platform for himself, but had to battle through testicular cancer before returning to the hill in 2017. Meanwhile, second baseman DJ LeMahieu has settled for a $8.5MM payday in his final year of arbitration, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets. That’s just a hair short of the $8.8MM he was pegged for in MLBTR’s projections.
    • Giants second baseman Joe Panik is slated to earn $3.45MM in his first season of arb eligibility, Devan Fink of SB Nation was first to tweet. That’s just a hair shy of the $3.5MM that MLBTR projected. Lefty Will Smith has settled at $2.5MM, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). The club has also announced deals with its remaining arb-eligible players, right-handed relievers Sam Dyson ($4.6MM projection), Hunter Strickland ($1.7MM projection), and Cory Gearrin ($1.6MM projection). (H/t John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, on Twitter). Strickland earns $1.55MM, Nightengale tweets.
    • The Padres and Freddy Galvis agreed to a $6.825MM deal for his lone season of team control in San Diego, tweets Robert Murray of FanRag Sports. Galvis, who spent the first several seasons of his career in Philadelphia before being traded this winter, had been projected to make $7.4MM. Infielder Cory Spangenberg settled at $1.7MM, Heyman tweets, falling below a $2.0MM projection. San Diego has also reached agreements with righty Kirby Yates and outfielder Matt Szczur, the team announced. Yates will earn $1,062,500, Heyman tweets, which is just shy of his $1.1MM projection. Szczur, meanwhile, will get $950K, a healthy boost over his $800K projection, per Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune (Twitter link).
    • The Diamondbacks agreed to a $7.75MM deal with center fielder A.J. Pollock, Murray tweets. Pollock was projected to earn $8.4MM in his final year of eligibility before free agency. Murray also notes that Brad Boxberger is set to earn $1.85MM next year (Twitter link). Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic adds that lefty Andrew Chafin ($1.2MM projection) and the D-backs have a $1.195MM deal in place. Third baseman Jake Lamb, meanwhile, agreed to a $4.275MM deal with the Diamondbacks, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (Twitter link). Lamb, eligible for arbitration for the first time, was projected to earn $4.7MM. He’s controllable through 2020. And ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that Chris Herrmann ($1.4MM projection) landed a $1.3MM deal. Righty Taijuan Walker has settled for $4.825MM, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter), which is within range but shy of the $5.0MM he projected for. Lefty Robbie Ray has settled at $3.95MM, per Nightengale (Twitter link), which falls short of his $4.2MM projection. Infielder Nick Ahmed will $1.275MM, per Heyman (via Twitter), which tops the projected figure of $1.1MM. Arizona has also announced that Chris Owings and David Peralta have agreed to terms.
    • The Dodgers are in agreement on a $6MM deal with lefty Alex Wood, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). He had projected at $6.4MM. Meanwhile, righty Josh Fields agreed to a $2.2MM deal, tweets Murray. Heyman tweets that Enrique Hernandez will earn $1.6MM. Fields’ projection of $2.2MM was on the money, whereas Hernandez topped his mark by $300K. Fields is controlled through 2019, while Hernandez is controllable through 2020. Southpaw Tony Cingrani gets $2.3MM, Murray tweets, which is just a shade over his $2.2MM projection. Outfielder Joc Pederson has also settled, per J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group (via Twitter), with Beth Harris of the Associated Press reporting a $2.6MM salary that rather handily tops the $2.0MM that MLBTR projected.

    National League Central

    • All three remaining Cardinals arb-eligibles have agreed to deals,’s Jenifer Langosch tweetsMarcell Ozuna will earn $9MM after drawin a much larger $10.9MM projection, Heyman tweets. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had explained that Ozuna likely wouldn’t quite reach the amount the algorithm suggested, though the actual salary still comes in a bit shy of expectations. Lefty Tyler Lyons ($1.3MM projection) receives $1.2MM, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter). The Cards have also reached agreement with Michael Wacha for $5.3MM, per Nightengale (via Twitter); he was projected to earn $5.9MM.
    • The Reds agreed to a $860K salary with Anthony DeSclafani, tweets Murray. DeSclafani missed the 2017 season due to arm troubles and had been projected to earn $1.1MM. He’ll remain under Reds control through 2020. Billy Hamilton and the Reds have settled on a one-year deal worth $4.6MM, tweets Murray. A popular trade candidate this offseason, Hamilton was projected to earn $5MM and comes with another two seasons of team control. Murray also conveys that Michael Lorenzen agreed to a $1.3125MM deal, which lines up fairly well with his $1.4MM projection.
    • The Cubs have struck a deal with lefty Justin Wilson, agreeing to a one-year, $4.25MM pact, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter link). Wilson, who had been projected at $4.3MM, will be a free agent next winter. The Cubs alsoagreed to a $950K salary with infielder Tommy La Stella, tweets’s Carrie Muskat. La Stella was projected to make $1MM in his first offseason of arbitration eligiblity and can be controlled through 2020. Right-hander Kyle Hendricks and the Cubs have agreed to a $4.175MM salary, per Nightengale (on Twitter). That sum comes in a fair bit shy of his projected $4.9MM projection as a first-time eligible player. The Cubs control Hendricks through the 2020 season. Chicago also agreed with Addison Russell, per Wittenmyer (Twitter link). The shortstop will receive $3.2MM for the coming season.
    • Nightengale reports (on Twitter) that the Brewers and breakout closer Corey Knebel settled at $3.65MM. As a Super Two player, Knebel can be controlled through the 2021 season and will be arb-eligible thrice more. He was projected at $4.1MM.’s Adam McCalvy tweets that the Brewers and right-hander Jimmy Nelson settled at $3.7MM, which falls $1MM shy of his $4.7MM projection (though some of that discrepancy may be due to Nelson’s shoulder injury). Milwaukee also announced a deal for infielders Jonathan Villar (projected at $3MM) and Hernan Perez (projected at $2.2MM). McCalvy reports that Villar will earn $2.55MM, while terms of Perez’s deal are not yet available.
    • The Pirates have avoided arbitration with shortstop Jordy Mercer by settling on a $6.75MM salary for 2018, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Mercer, who’d been projected to earn $6.5MM, is entering his final year of team control and will be a free agent next winter. Biertempfel also reports that Gerrit Cole will earn that same $6.75MM salary in 2018 — a $3MM raise over last year (Twitter link). He has two years of control remaining and had been projected to earn $7.4MM. Righty George Kontos has also agreed to terms, per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (via Twitter). He had projected for $2.7MM and will receive a smidge more, at $2,725,000, per Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link).

    National League East

    • The Braves reached a $3.4MM deal with righty Arodys Vizcaino, per Jon Heyman of FanRag (Twitter link). He’d been projected at $3.7MM. The Braves and righty Dan Winkler agreed to a $610K salary for the upcoming season, tweets Mark Bowman of Winkler tossed just 14 1/3 innings in the Majors this year as he made his way back from elbow surgery. He’d projected at $800K.
    • The Marlins and Miguel Rojas agreed to a $1.18MM deal for 2018, Heyman tweets, placing him north of his $1.1MM projection. Rojas should see additional playing time following the Marlins’ wave of trades this offseason. He’s controlled through 2020. Miami also has a deal in place with infielder Derek Dietrich for $2.9MM, Heyman tweets, after projecting at $3.2MM.
    • The Mets were able to settle perhaps their most notable arb case, agreeing to a $7.4MM deal with righty Jacob deGrom, per James Wagner of the New York Times (via Twitter). That’s well shy of his $9.2MM projection, though MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had explained the formula likely overestimated deGrom’s earning power by quite a wide margin. Fellow top righty Noah Syndergaard gets $2.975MM, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter), which goes a fair sight past the $1.9MM projection for the outstanding young starter, whose 2017 season was limited by injury. And reliever AJ Ramos will take home $9.225MM, according to Wagner (via Twitter). That’s just barely past the $9.2MM projection.  Wilmer Flores has also avoided arbitration with the Mets, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports (on Twitter). He’ll receive a $3.4MM salary, which falls within $300K of his projected rate. The Mets control Flores through the 2019 campaign. The Mets and right-hander Matt Harvey agreed to a one-year deal worth $5.625MM, tweets Nightengale. Harvey, who is a free agent next winter, had been projected to earn $5.9MM. Meanwhile, Marc Carig of Newsday tweets that Jeurys Familia will earn $7.925MM for the upcoming year, while Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that catcher Travis d’Arnaud will earn $3.475MM in 2018 (Twitter link). Familia, a free agent next winter, was projected at $7.4MM. The Mets control d’Arnaud through 2019, and his projection was $3.4MM. Righty Hansel Robles gets $900K, Heyman tweets.
    • Also via Nightengale (Twitter link), the Nationals agreed to a $6.475MM salary for 2018 with right-hander Tanner Roark. That falls about $1MM shy of his $7.5MM projection but still represents a noted raise of $4.315MM for Roark, whom the Nats control through 2019. Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post adds that Michael Taylor will earn $2.525MM next year. Taylor is controlled through 2020 and was projected at $2.3MM.
    • The Phillies and Maikel Franco settled on a $2.95MM salary for the 2018 season, reports Jim Salisbury of (Twitter link). Franco, a Super Two player who’d been projected at $3.6MM, remains under club control with the Phils through the 2021 season. Second bagger Cesar Hernandez will earn at a $5.1MM rate in 2018, per’s Todd Zolecki (via Twitter). That beats his $4.7MM projection and wraps up this year’s arb business for the Phillies.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Giants Reportedly Made Three-Year Offer To Bruce Before He Signed With Mets]]> 2018-01-12T05:17:47Z 2018-01-12T05:02:52Z
  • The Giants’ top offer to Jay Bruce was at the three-year level but would have promised about $10MM less to him than the $39MM he ultimately scored from the Mets, according to reports from Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link) and Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). It seems that San Francisco was hoping to get some pop into the lineup at a bit of a discount, which is certainly understandable given the still-lengthy list of potential targets available in free agency and on the trade market. One additional name that has long been linked to the Giants, Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates, remains of interest, Nightengale further notes. There’s also a case to be made that the Giants ought to take the opportunity presented by the slow market development while forgetting about the luxury tax line this year, as Andrew Baggarly writes for The Athletic. Of course, that’s also true for a few other teams, and it’s arguable that such interest will help prop things up once player movement begins in earnest.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 1/10/18]]> 2018-01-10T14:24:27Z 2018-01-10T14:24:27Z We’ll track the latest minor signings and other transactions here …

    • The Brewers have brought back left-hander Nick Ramirez on a minor-league deal, per a club announcement. Brewer Nation first tweeted word of the signing. He converted from first base to the mound in 2017, turning in rather impressive results. In 79 1/3 frames over 49 appearances, all but one of which came at Double-A, Ramirez ran a 1.36 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9. It obviously remains to be seen whether the former fourth-round pick can earn a shot at the majors, but it seems promising that he was able to throttle both right-handed (.214/.260/.305) and left-handed hitters (.167/.273/.240) while working in a multi-inning role.
    • First baseman/outfielder Kyle Jensen has a minors deal with the Giants, per SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter). The 29-year-old has only seen brief MLB time but has generally produced quality numbers at Triple-A. In 1,793 plate appearances at the highest level of the minors, he carries a .266/.341/.488 batting line with 178 home runs — though also over a thousand strikeouts. Jensen had a six-game stretch last year with Japan’s Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, but otherwise did not appear professionally. A former 12th round draft pick of the Marlins, Jensen has also spent time in recent years with the Dodgers and Diamondbacks organizations.
    • Also signing a minor-league pact is lefty Keith Hessler, who’ll join the Rockies, according to Cotillo (Twitter link). Hessler, 28, has 34 MLB frames under his belt, over which he has allowed 21 earned runs while recording 23 strikeouts and issuing 17 walks. He has mostly plied his trade in the upper minors in recent years, though he also took an indy ball detour last season. At times, Hessler has produced solid groundball numbers and been very hard on opposing lefties, though neither really held true in his most recent showing. In 45 1/3 Triple-A frames with the Padres in 2017, Hessler carried a 4.57 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[East Notes: Frandsen, Franco, Machado, Orioles]]> 2018-01-09T05:20:27Z 2018-01-09T05:20:27Z The Phillies announced on Monday that former big leaguers Kevin Frandsen, Kevin Jordan and Kevin Stocker will join their broadcast team. According to the announcement, that trio of former Phillies will rotate through road games and serve as color analysts alongside play-by-play broadcaster Scott Franzke. The 35-year-old Frandsen is the most recent member of the group to have suited up in the Majors, appearing in seven games for the 2015 Giants. Frandsen seemingly never made a formal declaration of his intention to retire as a player, though he has not appeared in a professional game since that 2015 season. It seems fair to assume, then, that he’ll embark upon a new career as he breaks into the media world.

    A couple more notes on the Phillies and some other east coast clubs…

    • In less pleasant news, third baseman Maikel Franco was suspended from his team in the Dominican Winter League for “violating the organization’s discipline code,” per Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes. Franco and teammates Moises Sierra, Garabez Rosa and Eduardo de Oleo were photographed partying at a Dominican club as late as 6am on the day of one of the team’s playoff games, per the report. It was a disappointment for both his DWL team and the Phillies alike, prompting an apology from the third baseman: “I apologize to the team, the fans and our sponsors, it’s something that will not happen again,” said Franco. The 25-year-old Franco, who impressed mightily as a rookie in 2015, has regressed in each of the past two seasons and is coming off his worst MLB campaign to date. In 623 plate appearances, Franco slashed just .230/.281/.409 with 24 homers.
    • Orioles skipper Buck Showalter is overseeing what Roch Kubatko of calls a “delicate situation” on the left side of the infield, where Manny Machado has reportedly indicated a desire to move to a shortstop position that would otherwise be occupied by Tim Beckham. While Showalter isn’t tipping his hand, he says there’s been progress in resolving who’ll play where — assuming, at least, that Machado is ultimately retained by the O’s. The manager says he has “positioned us to maneuver regardless of what happens between now and the season starting.”
    • Showalter and Kubatko also cover a variety of other topics of interest to the Baltimore faithful in that as well as another post, focusing in particular on a trio of lefties. Rule 5 pick Nestor Cortes has drawn early praise from the skipper, though of course he’ll still need to earn and keep an active roster spot. Elsewhere, the general prognosis on key reliever Zach Britton seems to be positive, though that’s not to say there’s any change to the mid-summer timeline for him to return from his Achilles tear. Kubatko also held an interesting chat with Richard Bleier, who recognizes that his sparkling 1.99 ERA from 2017 doesn’t guarantee him anything entering camp.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Giants Remaining Patient In Search For Outfielders]]> 2018-01-05T05:46:35Z 2018-01-05T05:46:35Z
  • Meanwhile, the Giants — who have also been tied to McCutchen — are still working through a broad slate of possibilities, as Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. GM Bobby Evans says the organization is “not really focused on the calendar” and views its options as “still very satisfying.” Patience has been the name of the game for just about all of baseball’s key actors this winter; the question remains when and how transactions will begin in earnest. For the Giants, the key limitations revolve around a desire to dip below the luxury tax line and a hesitancy to part with the best of their relatively meager prospect assets. As Schulman notes on Twitter, rivals have not only focused on outfielder Heliot Ramos, but also young pitchers Andrew Suarez and Tyler Beede.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Giants To Sign Hector Sanchez, Chase d’Arnaud, Jose Valdez]]> 2018-01-05T03:53:17Z 2018-01-05T03:53:17Z The Giants have struck a minors pact with catcher Hector Sanchez, according to Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area. He’ll be expected to take up a spot on the depth chart but not open the season on the MLB roster, as the Giants have already re-signed Nick Hundley to pair with stalwart regular Buster Posey.

    In other news, San Francisco has agreed to terms with infielder Chase d’Arnaud and righty Jose Valdez, according to SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter). Like Sanchez, both players saw time with the Padres in 2017.

    Sanchez, 28, is no stranger to the Giants organization. He broke into the majors in San Francisco in 2011 and played there through 2015. In 637 total MLB plate appearances thus far with the Giants, Sanchez carries a .240/.274/.345 batting line.

    Since departing, Sanchez has mostly plied his trade for the division-rival Padres. As Pavlovic notes, the otherwise light-hitting backstop turned into a slugger when stepping into the box against his former mates. Sanchez slashed just .219/.245/.423 over 143 plate appearances on the year, but he did launch four long balls against the Giants.

    As for d’Arnaud, who’ll soon turn 31, he suited up for three MLB teams in 2017 but received just 61 total plate appearances. The shortstop-capable utilityman carries a .223/.278/.306 batting line in 499 total MLB plate appearances.

    Valdez, meanwhile, will reach his 28th birthday before the 2018 season. He has a 5.72 ERA over 50 1/3 total MLB innings spread over the past three seasons. Valdez does own a mid-to-upper-nineties heater and managed an 11.2% swinging-strike rate during his time in the majors in 2017.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Pirates, Giants Discussing Andrew McCutchen Swap]]> 2018-01-05T01:42:26Z 2018-01-04T23:43:01Z
  • The Giants and Pirates have had recent discussions about a trade involving Andrew McCutchen, though the two sides aren’t close to a deal, reports’s Jon Morosi. The Pirates would want the Giants to include one of the organization’s best prospects — either Heliot Ramos, Chris Shaw or Tyler Beede — in any deal for McCutchen, and San Francisco brass is reluctant to part with additional top talent in an already-thin farm system after giving up Christian Arroyo in the Evan Longoria blockbuster. The 31-year-old McCutchen will earn $14.5MM this season before becoming a free agent next winter. While he had a significant rebound at the plate in 2017 (.279/.363/.486, 28 homers), he also turned in poor defensive metrics in center field for a fourth consecutive season. Upgrading the outfield defense has been a stated priority for the Giants.
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