MLB Trade Rumors » » San Francisco Giants 2017-10-18T04:44:48Z Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Giants Likely Set With Rotation]]> 2017-10-08T17:46:40Z 2017-10-08T17:46:40Z The Athletics have a history of adding veteran starters to eat innings and serve as mentors within otherwise young rotations, and the team will again be looking to add such a pitcher this winter, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle writes in a look at the starting situations on both Bay Area teams.  “You have to bring in the right guy in that situation.  Not just any veteran or experienced guy can come in and play that role, so we’ll certainly survey the market and be opportunistic,” Oakland GM David Forst said.  As for the Giants, they seem pretty set in the rotation, as they’re counting on better health and/or returns to form from Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Matt Moore, with Ty Blach and Chris Stratton competing for the fifth starter’s job.

Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Brian Sabean On Giants' Farm]]> 2017-10-06T22:43:36Z 2017-10-06T22:08:53Z
  • Giants president of baseball operations Brian Sabean discusses some of the organization’s young players with Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area on his podcast. It’s an interesting chat for fans that wish to understand how the top brass sees the farm and player development. The veteran executive also touches upon the team’s increasing incorporation of sabermetrics.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Giants Notes: Power, Defense, Evans, Span, Pence]]> 2017-10-04T04:17:16Z 2017-10-04T04:17:16Z
  • Power and outfield defense are both needs for the Giants this winter, though as team executives told reporters (including Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle and’s Jonathan Hawthorne) today, the team won’t sacrifice the latter for the sake of the former.  “We don’t want to get too far away from our game,” GM Bobby Evans said.  “We’re a pitching and defense team.  If we compromise too much in the area of power and give up to much defensively, that can hurt us as much as the benefit of adding the power.”  A younger and more athletic outfield seems like a priority, and Schulman feels this might rule out a run at 31-year-old free agent Lorenzo Cain.  In my view, Cain’s excellent glove would seem to make a good fit for the Giants, though his defensive metrics did decline (from great to “merely” quite good) in 2017.
  • The Giants will look to add at all three outfield positions, as incumbent outfielders Denard Span and Hunter Pence could be in line for position changes.  Span, according to manager Bruce Bochy, is “all in” about moving from center to left field.  This wouldn’t seem to leave much room for Pence to move from right field, though Schulman suggests that Span and Pence could both share a position.  That would be a very expensive solution considering that Span and Pence will combine to earn $30.5MM in 2018, though since both also have notable injury histories, a time-share could help keep both players healthy.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Giants Notes: Cueto, Hundler]]> 2017-10-03T01:05:13Z 2017-10-03T01:05:13Z Following his final start of the season, Giants right-hander Johnny Cueto wouldn’t tip his hand regarding his opt-out decision when asked by reporters (link via Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area). It seems unfathomable that Cueto will opt out of the remaining $84MM on his deal on the heels of the worst season of his big league career, and Cueto suggested that he’s enjoyed his time as a Giant and believes there’s a winning core in place. Backstop Nick Hundley also told the media that he “loves” San Francisco and his teammates, Pavlovic continues. His declined to elaborate on the opportunity to pursue a larger deal in free agency this winter or a potential starting role but certainly sounded open to a return.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Giants, Nick Hundley Have Mutual Interest In New Contract]]> 2017-09-30T04:05:58Z 2017-09-30T04:05:58Z
  • There is mutual interest between the Giants and Nick Hundley in a new contract, though Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle observes that it might hinge on how much playing time Hundley is able to find elsewhere from a catching-needy team.  Obviously, anything more than a backup role isn’t an option in San Francisco with Buster Posey locked in as the regular catcher.  Hundley hit .246/.276/.425 over 296 PA with the Giants while becoming a big voice in the team’s clubhouse.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Managerial Notes: Mets, Phillies, Klentak, Bochy, Guillen]]> 2017-09-30T02:48:14Z 2017-09-30T02:46:22Z David Wright and Jacob deGrom were two of several Mets players who criticized teammates for anonymously criticizing manager Terry Collins in a recent piece by Newsday’s Marc Carig.  “It was cowardly, in my opinion,” Wright told Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News.  “I have been very fortunate in my career.  I haven’t had too many gripes, but when I did, I went and talked to Terry or whoever the manager is.  His door has always been open and he’s always listened.”  It seems a foregone conclusion that Collins won’t return to manage the Mets in 2018, and the manager himself didn’t want to comment on many of items in Carig’s piece, other than to take exception to the idea that his usage of Jeurys Familia contributed to the reliever’s surgery to address an arterial clot in his right shoulder.

    Some more managerial notes from around baseball…

    • In my mind, we have reached a turning point in this rebuild,” Phillies GM Matt Klentak told reporters (including’s Ryan Lawrence) about why Pete Mackanin was moved to a front office position rather than manage the Phils next season.  “We see our roster right now is littered with young players who look to have a very, very bright future. It’s time to look forward. That’s the message today: it’s time to look forward.”  In Lawrence’s view, Klentak’s answers were somewhat indirect, especially since Mackanin was just given a contract extension in May.  Both Lawrence and Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer believe Klentak is now taking a larger role in the Phillies’ rebuild, given that several of the team’s top young talents were brought into the organization by previous (since fired) front office personnel.  Brookover figures the new skipper will be younger and more analytically-minded, and he cites Dusty Wathan as “the smart choice” for the job since Wathan is so familiar with Philadelphia’s young players.  Wathan has managed in the Phillies’ farm system for the last decade, including managing the Triple-A affiliate in 2017.
    • Sources close to Giants manager Bruce Bochy believe he’ll certainly stay on until his contract is up after the 2019 season,’s Alex Pavlovic writes.  Despite the Giants’ dreadful season, there is no danger of Bochy being fired, and though the manager has undergone some health issues in recent years, Bochy is intent on righting the ship next year.  “I want to leave the Giants organization better than when I came here and I want to get this team back on track. This is my passion,” Bochy said.
    • Ozzie Guillen hasn’t received an interview request since being fired by Miami four years ago, but the former Marlins and White Sox manager is still hopeful of another chance at managing a big league team, he tells Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press.  Fenech believes Guillen would be an interesting candidate for the Tigers job as the club embarks on a rebuilding process, though it isn’t clear whether Guillen is one of the names under consideration for the job.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Phil Nevin "Strong Candidate" To Become Tigers' Next Manager]]> 2017-09-29T00:32:17Z 2017-09-29T00:32:17Z
  • Giants third base coach Phil Nevin is a “strong candidate” to take over for Brad Ausmus as the Tigers’ manager, according to Heyman. Nevin played with the Tigers from 1996-97 and managed at their Double-A and Triple-A levels from 2010-13. Thanks to his work in the latter capacity, he’s already familiar with Tigers general manager Al Avila.

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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Matt Cain To Retire]]> 2017-09-27T22:25:21Z 2017-09-27T18:55:32Z Matt Cain will retire at the end of the season, the longtime Giants right-hander told reporters (including’s Alex Pavlovic).  Cain will make one final start, the 331st of his 13-year career, on Saturday at AT&T Park against the Padres.

    Matt Cain | Photo by Elsa/Getty ImagesCain informed his teammates of his decision before addressing the media, saying “I think Saturday will be the last time I put on the Giants uniform, and I can’t see myself going to play somewhere else.”  (hat tip to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle)  The Giants held a $21MM club option on Cain’s services for the 2018 season, though it was a foregone conclusion that the option would instead be bought out (for $7.5MM) given Cain’s struggles and injury problems over the last three years.

    Matt is one of the most accomplished right-handed pitchers in Giants history and has made a tremendous impact both on and off the field within our organization,” Giants President/CEO Larry Baer said in a statement. “His play on the field and community service exemplifies what a true big leaguer should be and he will definitely be missed. On behalf of the Giants, I congratulate Matt on an outstanding career and wish him and his family all the best. He’ll forever be a Giant.”

    Originally taken by the Giants with the 25th overall pick of the 2002 draft, Cain developed into one of the key figures in the franchise’s return to championship prominence this decade.  From 2006-12, Cain posted a 3.30 ERA, 7.5 K/9, 2.47 K/9 and averaged 213 innings per season, racking up three All-Star appearances and three top-12 finishes in NL Cy Young Award voting.  Cain joined Tim Lincecum and then Madison Bumgarner as the aces of San Francisco’s staff that helped the Giants win three World Series titles from 2010-14.

    Elbow and ankle problems kept Cain from contributing to that 2014 championship team, though he’d already proven his postseason bonafides in the Giants’ previous two title runs.  Cain owned a sterling 2.10 ERA over 51 1/3 playoff innings, including 21 1/3 shutout innings over the entirety of his work in the 2010 postseason.

    Cain’s success led to a notable contract extension signed in April 2012 — a six-year/$127.5MM deal that was, at the time, the largest contract ever signed by a right-handed pitcher.  2012 was a thoroughly notable year for Cain given his extension, the Giants winning another World Series and the perfect game authored by Cain on June 13.  It was the 22nd perfect game in MLB history and the first in the history of the Giants franchise.

    Injuries hampered the final few years of Cain’s career and forced him into an early exit from the game (he turns 33 on Sunday).  Still, Cain will long be remembered by Giants fans for his durability and clutch October performances, and Saturday’s start will no doubt be a special day at AT&T Park.  We at MLBTR wish Cain all the best in his post-playing career.

    Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Nick Hundley Would Like To Return To Giants]]> 2017-09-26T15:43:19Z 2017-09-26T15:33:37Z
  • Veteran backstop Nick Hundley says he’d like to return to the Giants, as Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News reports. Skipper Bruce Bochy says he’ll “sit down” with the catcher about the future, noting that he expects Hundley to “have some choices” in free agency. Hundley slashed .252/.281/.434 with nine home runs in 290 plate appearances, with the on-base struggles offsetting his pop. And he doesn’t rate well as a framer. Still, the Giants seem to feel they have received good value on their $2MM investment; Baggarly documents Hundley’s work with the pitching staff and positive clubhouse presence. “I love it here,” said Hundley, adding that he “can’t imagine how much better it’d be if we were winning more games.”
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Matt Cain Uncertain About Continuing Career]]> 2017-09-24T20:12:32Z 2017-09-24T20:12:32Z The Pirates controversially parted with reliever Juan Nicasio in a money-saving move last month, but the now-Cardinal and impending free agent would be open to an offseason return to the Bucs, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. “Yes, I would consider it. I liked it there a lot,” said Nicasio, who joined Pittsburgh prior to the 2016 season. It’s unclear whether the Pirates will pursue Nicasio over the winter, but he has put himself in position to secure a nice deal from them or someone else with his output this year. In 69 innings divided among Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and St. Louis, the 31-year-old has posted a 2.74 ERA with 8.74 K/9, 2.35 BB/9 and a 45.9 percent groundball rate.

    More from Pittsburgh and two other NL cities:

    • The Nationals plan to activate right fielder Bryce Harper for their series opener against the Phillies on Monday, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post tweets. Harper left the Nats’ game against San Francisco on Aug. 12 after suffering a gruesome-looking knee injury, thus derailing an MVP-caliber campaign, but he’ll have a chance to be a major factor in October for the World Series hopefuls.
    • Giants right-hander Matt Cain sounded uncertain on Saturday when discussing whether he plans to continue his career in 2018, Chris Haft of writes. What’s clear is that the Giants will buy out the former front-line starter’s $21MM club option in favor of a $7.5MM buyout in the offseason, ending a fruitful tenure in the Bay Area. While the 32-year-old Cain is in the midst of a fourth straight rough season, he has been outstanding for the majority of his career in San Francisco, where he has won three World Series and earned three All-Star nods since debuting in 2005.
    • Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang won’t need to come off the restricted list to participate in the Dominic Winter League, general manager Neal Huntington told Adam Berry of and other reporters Sunday (Twitter link). Kang is already in the Dominican Republic and working out with his winter ball team, per Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Their season begins Oct. 20, and playing for them will represent his first game action since the 2016 major league season. Kang hasn’t been able to secure a U.S. work visa since earning his third DUI charge in his native South Korea last winter. The Pirates will set an offseason deadline to decide whether they can count on Kang for 2018, according to Huntington. “We’ll get to a point in time where, if we still don’t know, we’ll plan as if he’s not going to be here,” he said. “If he is able to secure a visa to get into the country, we’ll have an extra really good player.”
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Giants Likely To Keep Pablo Sandoval Into Next Spring]]> 2017-09-24T03:06:36Z 2017-09-24T03:03:21Z Third baseman Pablo Sandoval’s reunion with the Giants this season has been a disaster from a statistical standpoint, as the former franchise linchpin has batted just .213/.253/.346 in 146 plate appearances in his return to the Bay Area. Nevertheless, the Giants seem primed to keep Sandoval on their 40-man roster into next spring, Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News reports. Factors working in Sandoval’s favor include his inexpensive price tag – the 31-year-old has a club option for 2018 worth the league minimum – and manager Bruce Bochy’s favorable opinion of him. Bochy said Saturday that the Sandoval experiment has “gone well,” and he praised the former member of the Red Sox for his defensive work at both corner infield positions. Because injuries frequently kept Sandoval out of action during his nightmarish stint in Boston from 2015-17, he’ll play winter ball during the upcoming offseason in an effort to make up for some of the missed time. After that, it appears he’ll have an opportunity in spring training to earn a spot on San Francisco’s 25-man roster.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Could Giants Move Panik This Winter?]]> 2017-09-22T17:36:06Z 2017-09-22T17:36:06Z
  • Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News wonders whether Giants second baseman Joe Panik is part of the team’s future or will instead be an offseason trade chip. Panik, Baggarly reasons, is one of the Giants’ most desirable big league pieces given his lack of a long-term contract and the fact that he’s only just reaching arbitration eligibility. However, the Giants also didn’t see Christian Arroyo take the step forward that they hoped, making it perhaps tougher to deal from their more proven infield depth. Giants fans and those interested in the offseason trade market are encouraged to check out Baggarly’s well-reasoned take on the situation in full.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Giants Notes: Otani, Sabean, Belt]]> 2017-09-21T13:15:08Z 2017-09-21T13:15:08Z The Giants have seemingly signaled their intentions to partake in the Shohei Otani sweepstakes. As Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle writes, GM Bobby Evans and AGM Jeremy Shelley each went to watch the 23-year-old Japanese star. While the Giants, like several other teams, would be limited to offering only a miserly $300K bonus to Otani, the organization does have a winning history and the city of San Francisco on offer. In any event, to the extent Otani does consider earnings, he’ll likely be more motivated by his second contract than his first — with increasing speculation focusing on the possibility that teams will discuss early-career extension scenarios in wooing the two-way player.

    More from San Francisco:

    • President of baseball operations Brian Sabean tells the Chronicle’s Bruce Jenkins that he began having some concerns with the team’s 2017 outlook in Spring Training. Needless to say, it became apparent rather early on in the season that things weren’t headed in a positive direction. Now, says the veteran executive, the club needs to “put a fresh look on things.” Among the needs: “to get younger, more athletic, and improve our defense.” That will be easier said than done, but Sabean says the organization will “have to be very open-minded and aggressive on the trade front” and will “have to be creative, and in some cases, bold.”
    • Turning this general approach into specific moves figures to be the real challenge, of course. As Jenkins explains, the club has a variety of difficult player/contract situations on the roster. Interestingly, he reports that skipper Bruce Bochy “would welcome a new look” at first base. While Brandon Belt has never been a major source of home runs and has been limited by unfortunate concussion problems, he has also been a steadily productive batter — posting a 128 wRC+ in over three thousand career plate appearances. Indeed, just last winter the club awarded him with an extension that Jenkins now labels as “burdensome.” Attempting to upgrade, though, may well cost yet more and the likelihood of even achieving improved production seems rather dubious.
    • If the Giants really decided they needed to move Belt, he’d draw plenty of interest due to his well-rounded offensive profile, though surely other organizations would be wary of the health concerns. Though he did just go on the 60-day DL — effectively ending his season — Belt was able to do some running on the field yesterday. He tells Janie McCauley of the Associated Press (Twitter link) that he has finally “turned a corner” and “just started feeling good,” which is certainly good to hear given the nature of his injury. Hopefully, Belt will be able to recover fully over the offseason.
    • Sabean also chatted about some other topics of interest with Jenkins. He had kind words for Evans, calling him “driven and patient” while also acknowledging that his successor has overseen a difficult turn in the team’s competitiveness. And the veteran exec also touched upon the always interesting matter of weighing statistical analysis and scouting, crediting the importance of numbers while also offering a colorful explication of his belief in the importance of performing in key situations.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Giants Claim Pierce Johnson Off Waivers, Transfer Brandon Belt To 60-Day DL]]> 2017-09-20T17:51:56Z 2017-09-20T17:51:56Z The Cubs announced to reporters that right-hander Pierce Johnson, who was designated for assignment last week, has been claimed off waivers by the Giants. The Giants have transferred first baseman Brandon Belt to the 60-day DL to clear a spot for Johnson, per Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area (Twitter link), which definitively puts an end to Belt’s 2017 season.

    Now 26 years of age, Johnson once ranked as one of the Cubs’ very best pitching prospects and was considered the game’s No. 87 overall prospect by Baseball America in the 2013-14 offseason. The former No. 43 overall pick turned in a very strong 2.74 ERA with 9.4 K/9 against 3.3 BB/9 across two A-ball levels in 2013 in order to earn that distinction, but his star has faded since that time.

    Johnson posted similarly strong ERA marks in both 2014 and 2015, but he struggled with control in ’14 and saw his strikeout rate drop drastically in ’15. The Cubs shifted him to the bullpen for much of the 2016 season in Triple-A Iowa, but Johnson responded with a 6.14 ERA and 6.1 BB/9 through 63 innings that year (albeit with a gaudy 10.7 K/9 rate).

    The 2017 season was better, as Johnson pitched almost exclusively in a relief role and posted improvements in ERA (4.34 ERA), strikeout rate (12.3 K/9) and walk rate (4.5 BB/9). He has an option remaining beyond the 2017 season, so if the Giants carry him on the 40-man roster through the offseason, they’ll have the luxury of sending him to the minors during or after Spring Training without first needing to expose him to waivers.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Baer On Giants' Needs Entering Offseason]]> 2017-09-19T19:40:47Z 2017-09-19T15:59:35Z
  • Across the bay, the Giants have stumbled through a disastrous season. CEO Larry Baer discussed the state of affairs as the campaign comes to an end with Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News reports. It’s an interview you’ll certainly want to read in full, as Baggarly pushed the executive on some interesting subjects. Baer emphasized that the organization can hope for turnaround efforts from some key players, noting in particular that the club got much less than anticipated from key pitchers. He explained: “I’m not proclaiming that’s what is going to happen, but I am saying that we believe with the talent level, we can get back.” In addition to discussing the state of the organization’s finances and the ongoing fan support (and, thus, revenue), among other topics of note, Baer also addressed the role of GM Bobby Evans with his predecessor, Brian Sabean, still a figure in the organization. Baer says he’s still confident in the front office “structure,” explaining that it’s a “pretty collaborative” unit that consists mostly of “all the same people” that built the club’s recent, better-performing rosters.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Matt Moore Discusses 2018 Option]]> 2017-09-17T03:03:39Z 2017-09-17T03:02:00Z The latest on a few National League clubs:

    • Second baseman Cesar Hernandez has emerged as either a legitimate building block for the Phillies or someone they could dangle over the winter in an effort to acquire sorely needed starting pitching help, Ryan Lawrence of observes. The 27-year-old has combined for 7.0 fWAR and 5.5 rWAR in 1,139 plate appearances dating back to last season, thanks in part to a .293/.367/.406 batting line. Hernandez’s OBP over that span ranks 24th in the majors, and the Phillies’ front office places a great deal of value in his ability to get on base, Lawrence writes. The switch-hitter is controllable through 2020 via arbitration, further adding to his appeal.
    • Reds prospect Hunter Greene entered this year’s draft as a right-handed pitcher/shortstop, but the second overall pick is no longer eyeing a two-way career. Rather, he’s solely focused on pitching, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. The 18-year-old revealed that he feels a “lot more natural” on the mound and suggested that working as both a pitcher and a position player in the pros would’ve been too physically taxing for him. “Big kudos to the guys in the big leagues who are playing every day, it’s a lot of work on the body, the arm and the feet. It’s a lot,” Greene said. “To be able to have rest days and recover and be able to have that day where you go out and perform and pitch at your best, it’s more comfortable for me.”
    • Giants general manager Bobby Evans announced Saturday that the team will exercise Matt Moore’s $9MM option for 2018. For his part, Moore told Jonathan Hawthorne of and other reporters that he didn’t expect the Giants to make a decision on his future so soon. The southpaw is glad they did, though. “It makes me very happy. … It definitely did take me by surprise,” Moore said. “It was something cool to kind of see because it’s probably a month and a half before they even have to do anything.” The 28-year-old Moore has pitched to an uncharacteristically bloated 5.39 ERA this season, but he noted that the Giants’ decision to bring him back indicates they believe his 2017 struggles are a blip. “It is nice to have the confidence that this is something that’s very temporary — the type of season I’m having isn’t expected here on out,” he stated.
    Charlie Wilmoth <![CDATA[Giants To Exercise Matt Moore’s 2018 Option]]> 2017-09-16T19:05:56Z 2017-09-16T19:02:52Z The Giants will exercise lefty Matt Moore’s $9MM option for 2018, GM Bobby Evans tells Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. By doing so, they will avoid paying a $1M buyout and, more importantly, retain a $10MM option or a $750K buyout on Moore for 2019.

    Moore has struggled in 2017, posting a 5.39 ERA over 167 innings in his first full season in San Francisco. Evans’ admission comes as little surprise, however, as FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal recently reported that the Giants seemed likely to retain Moore as part of an effort to retain pitching depth. Also, Moore is relatively young at 28 and posted reasonable peripherals (7.7 K/9, 3.3 BB/9) this season, and he has pitched significantly better in the second half than in the first, cutting his BB/9 by about a third.

    By exercising the option, the Giants get Moore, and flexibility for 2019, at what appears to be a reasonable cost. They will effectively be able to retain Moore for one year and $9.75MM, giving them a price similar to those of recent contracts for free agents like Andrew Cashner and Bartolo Colon, whose futures looked questionable at the time their deals were signed. The Giants will also, of course, get an option that could turn out to be quite valuable.

    Nonetheless, the Giants’ decision perhaps was not an automatic one, and not just because of Moore’s performance. The Giants already had north of $150MM committed for 2018, including salaries of $18MM or more for six players (assuming Johnny Cueto does not exercise his opt-out clause). Moore’s salary will add even more to their 2018 payroll.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Giants Claim Engelb Vielma]]> 2017-09-14T21:29:19Z 2017-09-14T20:13:42Z 3:13 pm: Vielma has been claimed by the Giants, Darren Wolfson of KSTP News reports via twitter.

    The former Twins infield prospect adds a bit of depth to a Giants team that has been in dire need of a defensively-minded backup infielder lately. Both Kelby Tomlinson and Orlando Calixte have been underwhelming with the glove this season, so if Vielma can develop even a replacement-level offensive skillset, his defensive wizardry could make him a solid utility option for San Francisco.

    2:54 pm: Recently-designated Twins infielder Engelb Vielma has been claimed off waivers by an unknown National League club, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

    Vielma was designated for assignment by the Twins on Tuesday in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for lefty reliever Gabriel Moya. The switch-hitting shortstop has yet play in the majors. In 314 plate appearances at AAA this year, he put up an unimpressive .206/.233/.260 batting line.

    In spite of his poor hitting, it makes sense that an organization would have interest in Vielma. He has been rated as the Twins’ best defensive minor-league infielder for multiple years, and could serve as an excellent defensive replacement or utility option. It’s possible he could still carve out a path to the majors, but he’d need to make major improvements with the bat.

    Vielma, a 23-year old native of Venezuela was first added to the Twins’ 40-man roster this past offseason in order to protect him from the rule five draft after he managed to get on base at a .344 clip between High-A and Double-A in 2016.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[2018 Vesting Options Update]]> 2017-09-14T17:10:09Z 2017-09-14T17:10:09Z We previously checked in on the vesting option scenarios playing out around the game. In the interim, though, we learned of a previously unreported clause and also gathered quite a bit more information about which options will and will not vest.

    Here’s where things stand with just two weeks to go:

    Already Vested

    • Greg Holland: It didn’t take long for the Rockies closer to finish thirty games, which triggered a clause that turned his $10MM mutual option into a $15MM player option. All indications are that Holland will spurn that payday (and the qualifying offer that will surely follow in close succession) to test the open market, but it affords him injury protection the rest of the way. Holland has already earned $9MM in bonus money. With six more games finished over the final two weeks of the season, he’d tack on another $2MM.
    • Gio Gonzalez: After topping 180 frames in his most recent start, Gonzalez is now under contract for 2018 at $12MM. While he has hit a bit of a wall of late, that still looks like quite an appealing price for a pitcher that has worked to a 2.68 ERA on the year.

    Open Questions

    • Ian Kinsler: It was learned recently that Kinsler’s 2018 option actually has a somewhat convoluted vesting provision. He’s guaranteed to earn $11MM upon reaching 600 plate appearances. And if he takes home another Gold Glove award, he’ll earn another $1MM in 2018. The option is going to be picked up regardless, but the 35-year-old can make things official if he strides to the plate 49 more times between now and the end of the season. He’ll likely get there if he plays more or less every day over the next two weeks.

    Will Not Vest

    • Ricky Nolasco: It’s still theoretically possible that Nolasco can reach the 202 1/3 innings he needs to transform a $13MM club option into a player option, but with over forty to go that’s just not happening as a practical matter. Instead, he’ll likely receive a $1MM buyout on the option.
    • Matt Cain: Cain is even more certain to receive a buyout; he’ll get a cool $7.5MM when the Giants say no to the alternative of paying $14MM more to keep him for another season. The veteran has compiled 119 1/3 innings of 5.66 ERA ball to this point, far shy of the volume or quality needed for that option to come into play. (It would have vested at 200 frames.)
    • Hisashi Iwakuma: Though he needed only 125 innings for his $15MM vesting provision to be triggered, Iwakuma has managed just 31 to date and is still on the DL. Instead, the M’s will likely pay him a $1MM buyout rather than picking up his option at $10MM.
    • Andre Ethier: Though he made it back from the DL, it was far too late for Ethier to lay claim to a $17.5MM salary for 2017. Since it’s impossible for him to make it to 550 plate appearances, he’ll instead receive a $2.5MM buyout when the Dodgers all but certainly decline the club option.
    • Matt Garza: Garza will be controllable via a $5MM club option. He was not able to reach 110 total starts from 2014-17, so his option did not vest at $13MM. But he also did not miss 130 or more days of action on the DL this year, so he avoided a provision that would’ve left the Brewers with a $1MM option for 2018.
    • J.J. Hardy: Also now back from the DL, Hardy returned far too late to reach the 600 plate appearances he’d have needed for a $14MM club option to become guaranteed. Instead, he’s destined to receive a $2MM buyout from the O’s this fall.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Ryan Vogelsong To Retire As Member Of Giants]]> 2017-09-11T19:32:41Z 2017-09-11T19:02:30Z Veteran right-hander Ryan Vogelsong will formally retire as a member of the Giants this coming Sunday, the team announced via press release.

    “We are so excited to honor Ryan and touched that as one of our home grown players his career will officially end where it all began for him,” said Giants GM Bobby Evans in a statement within the release. “Ryan’s journey in this game has been marked by highs and lows, successes and challenges, but through it all he has always been a person of great integrity, strong character and a fierce competitor.  He is a World Series Champion and a forever Giant.”

    Ryan Vogelsong | John Rieger-USA TODAY SportsThe 40-year-old Vogelsong was in camp with the Twins back in Spring Training but didn’t make the big league club out of camp and hasn’t appeared in the Majors or minors during the 2017 regular season. While his final season the Majors came as a member of the Pirates — one of two big league teams for which Vogelsong ever played in parts of 12 big league campaigns — he’ll be most remembered as a San Francisco Giant.

    Vogelsong was San Francisco’s fifth-round pick back in 1998 and ultimately went on to debut as a 22-year-old with the Giants back in 2000. He struggled through half of the 2001 season before being traded to the Pirates as part of that season’s Jason Schmidt trade. Vogelsong was ultimately unable to cement himself as a consistent member of the Pirates’ staff, and the Bucs cut him loose in 2006.

    Vogelsong went on to spend parts of the next three seasons pitching in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and found enough success to get a look with the Phillies and Angels at the Triple-A level in 2010. However, neither club saw fit to bring him to the Majors, setting the stage for an improbable rise to prominence as a member of the team that first gave Vogelsong a chance in that 1998 draft.

    In the 2010-11 offseason, Vogelsong rejoined the Giants on a minor league deal, and while few would’ve expected him to even surface in the Majors, he took things one step further by establishing himself as a key member of the Giants’ rotation. Vogelsong returned to the Majors with a flourish, tossing 179 2/3 innings with a 2.71 ERA, 7.0 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 en route to a few rogue Cy Young votes (11th place) and his lone All-Star nomination.

    Vogelsong went on to play an instrumental role in the Giants’ 2012 and 2014 playoff rotations, and when all was said and done, his second tenure with the team resulted in 792 2/3 innings of 3.89 ERA ball with 7.1 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 and two World Series rings.

    All told, Vogelsong’s career will come to a close with a 61-75 record, a 4.48 ERA, 6.8 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 over the life of 1190 Major League innings. Those numbers don’t include another 37 innings of 2.92 ERA with a 29-to-16 K/BB ratio for the Giants in the postseason. Vogelsong banked more than $20MM over the course of his 12-year playing career. Best wishes to him in his post-playing days.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Giants Likely To Bring Back Matt Moore]]> 2017-09-09T19:51:43Z 2017-09-09T19:51:43Z
  • It’s a safe bet that the Giants will exercise left-hander Matt Moore’s $9MM option for 2018 and retain his $10MM option for 2018 in the offseason, says Rosenthal. Although the 28-year-old Moore has recorded the NL’s highest ERA (5.31) through 162 2/3 innings this season, the Giants would rather bet on a bounce-back 2018 at a reasonable cost than subtract from their pitching depth. Buying Moore out would cost the Giants $1MM next year and $750K in 2019.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Brandon Belt Likely Done For 2017]]> 2017-09-09T15:10:56Z 2017-09-09T15:08:22Z
  • Giants first baseman Brandon Belt has been out since Aug. 4 on account of a concussion, and the likelihood is that he won’t return this season, per Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area. While Belt has suffered four documented concussions during his career and is still having vision problems related to his latest brain injury, doctors have informed him he’ll make a full recovery. As such, the 29-year-old Belt insists his career isn’t in jeopardy. “It’s not like I’m repeatedly banging my head against something,” Belt told Pavlovic. “If that was the case, it might affect me more in the long term. This is more sporadic and the hits aren’t too terrible. Once I get over these concussions, they tell me that I won’t have to worry about them anymore.”
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Mark Melancon To Undergo Surgery On Tuesday]]> 2017-09-08T22:42:48Z 2017-09-08T22:42:48Z Giants reliever Mark Melancon is now scheduled to undergo surgery on his right forearm next Tuesday, per manager Bruce Bochy (via John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle; Twitter links).

    The news comes as no surprise, as Melancon and the team have made clear in recent weeks that he’d have a procedure at some point in the coming weeks. The procedure will address chronic compartment syndrome in the pronator muscle, which has long been a problem for the veteran hurler but increasingly bothered him during the 2017 season.

    Melancon is expected to be able to resume throwing in about six to eight weeks’ time. That ought to give him plenty of time to rehab and get ready for a full camp next spring.

    While the overall outlook seems to be pretty promising, it’s obviously still disappointing for the season to wrap up this way. Melancon, 32, has turned in only thirty innings of 4.50 ERA pitching on the year, far shy of what San Francisco expected when it promised him $62MM over four years.

    On the positive side, his key peripherals do not appear to have changed all that much from his recent work, so there is at least some cause to hope that Melancon can make good on the contract once he’s back to full health. The Giants, who face a variety of other needs, have little choice but to hope that he can rediscover his form in 2018.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Three Needs: San Francisco Giants]]> 2017-09-08T21:13:15Z 2017-09-08T21:13:15Z With just over three weeks remaining in the season, much of the focus in baseball is on the American League Wild Card race, historic winning streaks from the D-backs and Indians, and Giancarlo Stanton’s pursuit of 60 home runs. Fans and executives for a number of teams, though, are already beginning to look toward the future as they seek ways to remedy disappointing 2017 seasons that won’t result in a playoff berth.

    With that in mind, MLBTR is re-launching its yearly Three Needs series, in which we’ll take a high-level look at a trio of pressing areas that need to be addressed on non-contenders with the offseason looming. We’ll take considerably deeper dives into each team’s flaws and possible avenues to improvement in our annual Offseason Outlook series, beginning next month, but this series will get the ball rolling for offseason content here at MLBTR.

    In arbitrary fashion, the Giants are first up in 2017. With a 55-87 record, they need to go 8-12 down the stretch to avoid their first 100-loss season since 1985 and just the second season of triple-digit losses in the storied history of their franchise.

    [Related: San Francisco Giants Depth Chart and Payroll Outlook]

    1. Outfield improvements, both on defense and offense. Much has been made of the Giants’ lack of power, particularly in the outfield. They’ve already been linked to Giancarlo Stanton on multiple occasions, but the Giants need more than a power upgrade in the outfield. (Moreover, gutting an already thin farm and taking on a significant portion of Stanton’s contract doesn’t seem especially prudent anyhow.)

    San Francisco ranks dead last in the Majors in outfield Defensive Runs Saved, and they’re a bottom-three team in Ultimate Zone Rating as well. Denard Span shouldn’t be playing center field anymore, but he’s been at least a league-average hitter. If the Giants can find a way to trade him and/or Hunter Pence, it could go a long ways toward improving the 2018 roster by creating space for younger options and freeing up resources for free agency and trades.

    That’s a tall order, though, and the Giants could be better off simply sliding Span into left field and pursuing a center fielder that can excel defensively while providing some offense. Lorenzo Cain will be a free agent that, at 32 years of age, won’t break the bank in terms of contract length. Adding another aging outfielder to the mix might not pay off in the long run, but the Giants are aiming to compete next season. One alternative would be paying down some of Span’s contract to flip him to a team with a left field need, then giving Austin Slater an earnest look in left field and perhaps adding a more cost-effective center field option. Jarrod Dyson would bring elite glovework into the fold, though he’d only exacerbate the team’s lack of power and would need to be paired with a right-handed-hitting platoon partner.

    2. A dependable mid-rotation starter. Giants fans may perceive the bullpen to the bigger need — and it’s a need, to be sure — but the rotation as currently constituted has far too many question marks and not much in terms of readily apparent reinforcement options. Assuming Matt Moore’s improvements in the second half are enough for his option to be exercised, the Giants will deploy a rotation consisting of Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto (whose injury all but rules out an opt-out), Jeff Samardzija and Moore. Candidates for the remaining slot include Ty Blach, who has the worst strikeout and swinging-strike rates in MLB, and 27-year-old Chris Stratton, who struggled in Triple-A this year and has walked 23 batters in 45 1/3 MLB frames. Prospect Tyler Beede could eventually surface as an option, but he didn’t perform especially well in Triple-A and missed the final chunk of the season with a back injury. More time in Triple-A could benefit him while buying the Giants some extra club control.

    The free-agent market will be fronted by Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta and possibly Masahiro Tanaka. The Giants may not be keen on spending at those levels with a number of other notable players on the wrong side of 30 still under contract, but the middle tier of arms has some solid names as well. Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb, Marco Estrada and Tyler Chatwood (who has been successful outside of Coors Field in his career) will all be on the open market, among others. As always, the trade market will feature myriad names that could step into the middle of the mix in San Francisco.

    3. Infield depth, with a focus on third base. The Giants entered the year with Eduardo Nunez at third base, while Conor Gillaspie and Aaron Hill served as utility options. Korean star Jae-gyun Hwang headed to Triple-A with the hope that he could emerge as an option down the line. None of those players are with the organization anymore, leaving the re-signed Pablo Sandoval (who is in an 0-for-38 slump) and prospects Ryder Jones and Christian Arroyo as options at the hot corner. Neither Arroyo nor Jones has hit in the Majors yet. While both could emerge as long-term pieces eventually — Arroyo, in particular, has long been regarded as a quality prospect — neither has yet shown himself ready to handle regular duties for a (would-be) contender.

    The Giants’ bench, too, is lacking in the way of infield depth. Kelby Tomlinson’s strikeout rate is a career-high 21.4 percent, and he hasn’t homered since 2015. Adding a player in the Jed Lowrie mold makes a good bit of sense for San Francisco. If Arroyo steps up and claims the third base role, a player of Lowrie’s skill set could easily slide into a utility role, potentially allowing him to spell Joe Panik and Brandon Crawford on occasion. (Panik has missed significant time with injuries in recent years, it’s also worth noting.) One option could be to re-sign Nunez, who enjoyed his time with the Giants and has said he’d be open to a return in free agency.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Matt Cain Undecided On Future]]> 2017-09-08T14:10:10Z 2017-09-08T14:10:10Z
  • Right-hander Matt Cain isn’t sure what the future holds for him, writes John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. The former Giants ace and longtime rotation stalwart tells Shea that “being able to be a career guy (with one team) is something that’s dear to my heart.” Cain adds that he values the loyalty that the organization has shown to him over the course of his career and that he’d relish the chance to become just the fourth player to ever have spent at least 10 years in the Majors — all with the Giants. Cain, though, does not firmly rule out the possibility of continuing his career, even if it’s with another club. Giants fans will want to check out the full column, as it’s filled with anecdotes related to Cain’s legacy in San Francisco and features quotes from teammates Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey as well as pitching coach Dave Righetti, skipper Bruce Bochy and of course, Cain himself.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Giants Designate Carlos Moncrief For Assignment]]> 2017-09-05T23:02:59Z 2017-09-05T23:02:59Z The Giants have designated outfielder Carlos Moncrief for assignment in order to clear a spot on the roster for fellow righty Roberto Gomez, whose contract has been selected from Triple-A Sacramento (Twitter link via Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area).

    Moncrief, 28, spent most of his career with the Indians organization but has been with the Giants for the past two seasons. He’s batted .287/.349/.421 with two homers and four steals through 190 Triple-A plate appearances this season but slashed just .211/.256/.237 through 43 plate appearances with the big league club this year after making his MLB debut.

    Gomez, also 28, notched a 4.07 earned run average with 8.2 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and a 46 percent ground-ball rate in 97 1/3 innings with the Giants’ Triple-A affiliate. Gomez has made 38 appearances in Sacramento, 25 out of the bullpen and 13 starts.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Mark Melancon Will Require Forearm Surgery]]> 2017-09-04T23:48:44Z 2017-09-04T23:48:20Z SEPT. 4: The problem that requires surgery is chronic compartment syndrome in Melancon’s forearm pronator muscle, according to Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News. That has left him with a persistent feeling of tightness in the elbow joint, Baggarly explains, which a surgical procedure will relieve.

    Melancon suggests he is hoping to wait until the season is over to go under the knife, though he notes it’s “literally day to day” as to when it’ll take place. (Basically, it seems, he’ll keep pitching unless the problem isn’t allowing him to do so regularly and tolerably.) The fairly unusual procedure is expected to require a two- to three-month layoff, so Melancon ought to be ready to go next spring regardless of when the surgery occurs.

    SEPT. 1: Giants reliever Mark Melancon is likely to undergo forearm surgery relatively soon, manager Bruce Bochy told reporters including John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). It is not yet clear exactly when Melancon will stop pitching this year.

    It still isn’t even known precisely what procedure the veteran righty is contemplating, beyond the fact that it’s to address a longstanding issue to his forearm. But Bochy said the recovery time is expected to be from six to eight weeks.

    While the club isn’t concerned that Melancon could further injure himself by continuing to throw, it also wants to ensure that he has plenty of time to get healthy and ramp back up next spring. After all, the team has a long-term interest to protect and isn’t going anywhere in 2017. In the meantime, Sam Dyson will likely continue to operate as the close.

    Melancon is under contract for three more years and $38MM after the end of the current season. There’s an opt-out opportunity after 2018, though at present that seems unlikely to be taken.

    San Francisco will hope that Melancon can not only stay off the DL in 2018 and beyond but also that he can improve upon his current 3.95 ERA. He allowed just 1.80 earned per nine over the prior four seasons, setting up the big contract despite his relatively advanced age.

    It is encouraging, at least, that Melancon has continued to post similar strikeout-to-walk (8.6 K/9 vs. 1.7 BB/9) and groundball (54.2%) numbers to those he carried in recent years. He has surrendered a few more hits (.358 BABIP-against) and homers (0.99 HR/9; 14.3% HR/FB) than is typical, helping to explain the difference in the bottom-line results.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Giants Outright Jae-Gyun Hwang]]> 2017-09-01T13:10:28Z 2017-09-01T13:10:28Z The Giants have outrighted infielder Jae-gyun Hwang off the 40-man roster to clear a spot for catcher Tim Federowicz, tweets Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. That means that Hwang won’t receive a September call-up for the Giants, and it likely spells the end of his time in the organization.

    A star in the Korea Baseball Organization, where he batted .335/.394/.570 in his final season with the Lotte Giants, Hwang signed a minor league contract with San Francisco this past offseason in hopes of eventually solidifying himself as an everyday option in the Majors. While he posted a solid .287/.334/.458 in 380 Triple-A plate appearances, though, Hwang received only a scarce handful of at-bats with the big league club; in a meager total of 57 plate appearances, he posted a .154/.228/.231 batting line with one homer and one double.

    Hwang won’t have the ability to elect free agency until after the season, so the outright effectively ends his first season of American pro ball before he ever got much of a chance in the Majors. It’s not clear at this time whether his camp will pursue further Major League opportunities in 2018 and beyond or if he’ll return to South Korea, where he’d surely draw lucrative offers in the KBO.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Matt Moore Clears Revocable Waivers]]> 2017-08-31T17:40:07Z 2017-08-31T16:19:45Z
  • Left-hander Matt Moore “sailed through” revocable trade waivers when the Giants put him through that process this month, per Heyman. Whether the Giants would want to or even be able to trade Moore is another question, but the possibility will be open through season’s end. Moore would have to be traded to a new team today in order to be eligible for that club’s postseason roster, though from a purely speculative standpoint, a non-contending club could look to buy low on Moore with an eye toward the 2018 campaign. The 28-year-old has struggled through the worst full season of his career in 2017, logging a dreadful 5.49 ERA with 7.7 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and a 37.4 percent ground-ball rate in 154 innings of work. He’s been somewhat better since the All-Star break, but Moore’s stock is still at a low point. He has a $9MM option for the 2018 season and a $10MM option for 2019.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Giants Have Some Interest In Justin Upton]]> 2017-08-30T19:52:07Z 2017-08-30T19:28:30Z
  • The Giants have at least some level of interest in Tigers outfielder Justin Upton, according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network (links to Twitter). Trouble is, San Francisco (quite understandably) would only want to deal for Upton if it can be assured that he won’t exercise his opt-out clause and head out onto the open market this fall. Upton will be deciding between another foray into free agency and the $88.5MM over four years still left on his contract. It seems unlikely that he’ll be inclined to tip his hand on that call, let alone pre-commit, so it’s hard to imagine how a deal could come together. The Giants, after all, won’t want to sacrifice value to rent Upton in a lost season. And the Tigers would surely rather deal him in the offseason or offer him a qualifying offer (if he opts out) than give him away for nothing. Of course, San Francisco could still pursue Upton in trade or free agency after the season if he ends up remaining with Detroit through the end of the season.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Injury Notes: Wright, Cueto, Kershaw, Wood, Ethier, Sano, Ramirez, Bailey]]> 2017-08-30T13:50:24Z 2017-08-30T13:50:24Z Though he is now dealing with yet another setback and has not appeared in the majors since May of last year, Mets third baseman David Wright is not considering retiring, a source tells Mike Puma of the New York Post. A lingering shoulder injury is the most immediate problem limiting Wright, though he has also dealt with significant neck and back issues that he’ll continue to battle in the future. With three years and $47MM left on his contract, Wright will evidently keep trying to make it back to the majors, though at present it is unclear what course he’ll take in trying to overcome his maladies.

    Here’s more on some other injury situations from around the game:

    • Giants righty Johnny Cueto said he feels ready to return to the majors, as Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area writes. He has taken two rehab starts in his bid to return from a flexor strain that has kept him out of action since mid-July. That injury seemingly makes it quite likely that Cueto will elect not to opt out of the remaining four years and $84MM of his contract this fall. Cueto seemingly acknowledged that, saying that his “whole mentality has been for me to stay here,” though he also noted that’ll be a decision that’s made in consultation with his agent at season’s end.
    • The Dodgers are set to welcome back a pair of key southpaws later this week, as Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports (Twitter links). Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to pitch Friday, with Alex Wood taking the ball on Sunday. Kershaw has been out since late July, making for the second-straight year in which he has missed significant time due to back issues. Wood’s DL stint has been of a shorter duration, with the belief being that his SC joint inflammation is something that can be managed rather than a symptom of a more significant problem. Needless to say, both are critical to the team’s ever-rising postseason expectations. The Dodgers are also awaiting a return from yet another starter, righty Brandon McCarthy, who has been out with a finger blister. As Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register tweets, the right-hander’s scheduled rehab start this week has been bumped, so his status is unclear at the moment.
    • Also nearing his return to the Dodgers is veteran outfielder Andre Ethier, as Plunkett further reports on Twitter. The club will make a move after rosters expand at the start of September. The 35-year-old faces an uncertain playing-time situation, to be sure. Los Angeles just added a left-handed-hitting veteran outfielder in Curtis Granderson and now features Adrian Gonzalez as a southpaw-swinging bench bat. Ethier has missed the entire season to date with a herniated disc in his back. He’ll almost certainly hit the open market after this year, receiving a $2.5MM buyout if (likely, when) the team declines a $17.5MM club option. Despite his many recent medical problems, there ought to be some market if Ethier can show he’s healthy in September; after all, as recently as 2015 he was a productive hitter (.294/.366/.486 over 445 plate appearances).
    • While the Twins are currently pacing the pack for the second American League Wild Card spot, the team has gone without key slugger Miguel Sano. While he does seem to be improving from what has been called a “stress reaction” to his left shin, writes’s Rhett Bollinger, Sano still hasn’t begun running or fielding. Manager Paul Molitor says things are “moving rather slowly” for the third baseman. Sano, 24, has turned in 475 plate appearances of .267/.356/.514 hitting with 28 home runs on the year, meaning the team is going without a middle-of-the-order bat that isn’t really replaceable. Given the nature of his injury, though, there’s likely not much that can be done but hope that he responds to treatment.
    • The Angels are awaiting news from a re-examination of right-hander J.C. Ramirez after he underwent a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right elbow, Pedro Moura  of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Ramirez, 29, had settled into a starting role for the club, providing 147 1/3 innings of 4.15 ERA ball to a rotation that badly needed it. That sets him up fairly well as a possible Super Two candidate; it remains to be seen whether Ramirez will qualify for arbitration after entering the year with 1.139 years of service. Given that he only just underwent that injection, though, it seems optimistic to expect that he’ll make it back to the mound in 2017.
    • Meanwhile, fellow Angels righty Andrew Bailey is giving up any attempts to return in the present season, Moura further reports on Twitter. He will, however, attempt to get his shoulder back to health in order to return in 2018. Bailey had shown well for the Halos in a late-season stint last year and re-signed with the club for $1MM over the winter, but has managed only four major-league frames on the year. He’s set to return to the open market at the end of the season.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Jeff Samardzija Clears Revocable Trade Waivers]]> 2017-08-29T01:19:40Z 2017-08-29T01:04:56Z Giants righty Jeff Samardzija has cleared revocable trade waivers, according to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag. That means that the hurler can be freely dealt over the next few days — though he does also possess no-trade rights against all but eight MLB teams.

    Just because Samardzija can now theoretically be traded doesn’t mean that a deal is likely, of course. His contract pays him $18MM annually for three more seasons, which helps explain why no other organizations placed a claim. And he not only has veto powers over deals to any teams except for the Angels, Athletics, Cubs, Dodgers, Mets, Nationals, Red Sox, and Yankees, but has suggested he may be inclined to exercise those rights.

    Beyond his contract, Samardzija’s trade appeal is also a matter of some debate. The 32-year-old has averaged an impressive 9.1 K/9 against 1.4 BB/9 over his 167 2/3 innings on the season, is throwing about as hard as ever, and he could top 200 frames for the fifth consecutive year. But he has also worked to a subpar 4.67 ERA.

    Samardzija joins a long list of players that have reportedly cleared waivers, setting the stage for final negotiations with the deadline to add players with postseason eligibility looming at the end of the month. You can find them all at this link.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Giants Have Reportedly Expressed Strongest Interest In Giancarlo Stanton]]> 2017-08-28T17:14:07Z 2017-08-28T17:14:07Z The Phillies, Cardinals and Rangers are among the teams that have reached out to the Marlins to express interest in slugger Giancarlo Stanton, but USA Today’s Bob Nightengale cites a “high-ranking Marlins executive” in reporting that the Giants are the club that has expressed the most interest.

    Miami has surged back to within striking distance of an NL Wild Card spot (largely due to Stanton’s recent heroics), so Stanton won’t be changing hands until this offseason, at the earliest. However, despite the recent offensive spike — Stanton is hitting .356/.462/.925 with 29 homers in his past 47 games — there are still numerous obstacles to a potential Stanton swap. Stanton’s 13-year contract affords him full no-trade protection, and Nightengale adds that not one prospective trade partner has expressed a willingness to absorb the remaining 10 years and $295MM on Stanton’s contract beyond the 2017 season.

    Beyond that, the Giants’ minor league system is not very well regarded. Tyler Beede entered the year as the top pitching prospect in San Francisco’s minor league ranks, but he’s had a poor season in Triple-A this year (albeit in a very hitter friendly environment). He’s now likely to miss the final two months of the season with a groin injury. Fellow right-hander Joan Gregorio posted a 3.04 ERA in 74 Triple-A innings but carried some questionable secondary metrics and saw his season end in early July due to a PED suspension.

    On paper, the Giants make a fair amount of sense as a trading partner for Stanton. San Francisco, as a team, ranks dead last in the Majors with 101 home runs this season. Stanton alone has nearly half that number, while the 29th-ranked Padres have out-homered the Giants by 25. That lack of pop is all the more glaring at a time when home runs are being hit at a record pace throughout the league.

    More specifically, the Giants’ outfield has been the worst in baseball this year by measure of slugging percentage, OPS and fWAR. They rank 29th in on-base percentage, ISO and wRC+ as well. Incumbent right fielder Hunter Pence will turn 35 next April and has struggled to a career-worst .254/.306/.378 batting line through 431 plate appearances this season. Stanton would provide a thunderous jolt to any lineup he joined, but there’s very arguably no team that has a more acute need for his skill set than the Giants.

    As for the Phillies, there may not be a team in baseball that can better handle his contract from a financial standpoint. Philadelphia’s only long-term commitment at present is to Odubel Herrera, and they have a history of lofty payrolls when contending. The Cardinals have been rumored to be in the market for an impact bat to place in the middle of their lineup since June, and the Rangers have little certainty in their outfield mix beyond 2017.

    All of this, of course, is putting the cart before the horse. There’s no guarantee that the new Marlins ownership group will be in a rush to trade Stanton on the heels of the best season of his excellent young career. Doing so would come with massive public relations repercussions and could start the Bruce Sherman/Derek Jeter-led ownership group out on the wrong foot with a fan base that has long harbored a potent distrust of previous owner Jeffrey Loria. That’s especially true when considering the fact that the Marlins would likely have to pay Stanton’s contract down to the point where an interested partner felt it carried enough surplus value not only to acquire Stanton but also to part with well-regarded young talent.

    The Marlins’ preference under new ownership, according to Nightengale, is to keep the payroll around $100MM, and Stanton’s salary will jump to $25MM next season. He’ll be paid $26MM in both 2019 and 2020, after which he can opt out of the remaining seven years of the deal. If he forgoes the opt-out, Stanton will be paid $29MM in 2021-22, $32MM in 2023-25, $29MM in 2026 and $25MM in 2027. Stanton’s contract also includes a $25MM option for the 2018 season, which comes with a $10MM buyout.

    Charlie Wilmoth <![CDATA[Giants Could Consider Bullpen Shakeup This Winter]]> 2017-08-28T03:52:49Z 2017-08-28T01:24:08Z
  • The Giants’ struggles this season — culminating today in a sweep at the hands of the Diamondbacks — show that the team will yet again have to upgrade its bullpen in the coming winter, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. One key recent acquisition, Mark Melancon, has missed part of the season with elbow issues, and another, Will Smith, has missed all of it. Josh Osich and Steven Okert have struggled in their attempts to replace retired lefty Javier Lopez. On the bright side, the team can hope for more from Melancon and Smith next year, and Sam Dyson has proven very helpful. And the team will have pieces it can mix and match in Cory Gearrin, Hunter Strickland, Derek Law and Kyle Crick.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Giants Notes: Cueto, Stratton]]> 2017-08-27T19:32:33Z 2017-08-27T19:32:33Z
  • Speaking of players with big offseason decisions ahead, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Sunday that there’s a “good chance” right-hander Johnny Cueto will return to their rotation next week (Twitter link via Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area). Cueto hasn’t taken the mound since July 14 on account of a flexor strain. The injury, Cueto’s underwhelming 2017 performance before landing on the shelf and his age (32 in February) will make it difficult for the longtime ace to opt out of the remaining four years and $84MM left on his contract after the season. Regardless of what he chooses to do over the winter, Cueto’s comeback in 2017 won’t affect righty Chris Stratton’s place in San Francisco’s rotation, Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News writes. Stratton has racked up 24 1/3 innings of 2.59 ERA ball as a starter this season, though his strikeout and walk rates don’t offer as much hope (5.94 K/9, 4.5 BB/9).
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Melvin Upton Requests & Receives Release From Giants]]> 2017-08-22T01:49:09Z 2017-08-22T01:49:09Z The Giants have released veteran outfielder Melvin Upton after he requested his release, as Jon Heyman of Fan Rag first reported on Twitter. Upton, it seems, is hopeful of catching on with a contender down the stretch.

    Upton, who turns 33 today, caught on with the Giants in early April after he was released by the Blue Jays at the end of camp. He has seen only minimal action since, owing to thumb and shoulder issues. And none of it has come at the major-league level.

    If Upton doesn’t make it back to the majors this year, it would represent his first season without MLB action since way back in 2005. He certainly will need to show he warrants a roster spot before he’ll have an opportunity, as he struggled badly late last year and Toronto and has hit just .244/.306/.333 over 49 plate appearances this year at Triple-A.

    Still, it is conceivable that Upton could end up being a useful bench piece for a late-season run. He has long been a stolen base threat and quality overall baserunner. While defensive metrics have wavered on his glovework in center, both UZR and DRS graded him as a positive contributor in left field in 2016.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Mark Melancon Weighing Surgery For Forearm Injury]]> 2017-08-19T17:57:38Z 2017-08-19T17:57:56Z SATURDAY: The injury is to Melancon’s forearm, Schulman writes. The Giants believe that the risk of further injury will not increase if Melancon continues pitching, so he will continue to do so for now while he weighs his options. Whether Melancon pursues surgery or rehab, the team’s goal is for him to be completely ready for Spring Training.

    FRIDAY: Giants reliever Mark Melancon is considering undergoing surgery, he told reporters today, including Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (links to Twitter). The veteran righty declined to disclose the precise nature of the injury, but did indicate it is not an elbow ligament problem.

    Whatever the malady, it has evidently plagued Melancon for quite some time. He says the problem has arisen from time to time dating back to 2012. This year, though, it has been a bigger concern. Melancon says he has dealt with “discomfort every day this season.” (Via’s Chris Haft, on Twitter.)

    It seems the decision has yet to be made, with the possibility of a procedure and also its timing still being weighed. Melancon noted that he wants to keep pitching down the stretch this year, even if there’s no hope of a postseason berth, because the club hopes to gain some momentum for a rebound in 2018.

    Clearly, though, having a healthy and effective Melancon for the season to come will be the priority. He has not been at his best since landing in San Francisco over the winter on a four-year, $62MM free-agent pact. The 32-year-old has dealt with injury issues in or around the elbow joint, limiting him to 23 2/3 innings of 3.80 ERA ball this season.

    There are both signs of optimism and of worry in Melancon’s 2017 stat sheet. He carries 7.6 K/9 and 1.1 BB/9, with a 17.2% K%-BB% that’s right in line with his outstanding work over the prior four seasons. His average fastball velocity has actually been up a bit after trending down over the past two years. On the other hand, Melancon has dropped back to a 9.6% swinging-strike rate — falling shy of double-digits for the first time since his last non-dominant campaign (in 2012, with the Red Sox).

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[MLBTR Mailbag: Lowrie, Bruce, Giants, Controllable Starters]]> 2017-08-19T14:50:12Z 2017-08-19T13:24:38Z Thanks as always for your questions! If yours wasn’t selected this week, you can always pose it in one of our weekly chats: Steve Adams at 2pm CST on Tuesdays, Jason Martinez at 6:30pm CST on Wednesdays, and yours truly at 2pm CST on Thursdays.

    Here are this week’s questions and answers:

    Why is it so hard for the A’s to move Jed Lowrie? — Rene H.

    Well, there has been a bit of a game of musical chairs in the second/third base market. The Red Sox went with Eduardo Nunez. The Nationals grabbed Howie Kendrick, who can also play outfield. The Brewers ended up with Neil Walker in August. Those deals filled some of the main needs out there, though there are at least a few teams that could still make a move. The Angels stand out; the Indians have looked in this area; and the Blue Jays could be a dark horse if they make a run.

    But let’s suppose a few organizations are indeed still poking around on Lowrie. Those same teams will also have other options to consider. Ian Kinsler is now off the market after his waiver claim was revoked by the Tigers. But Brandon Phillips and Zack Cozart are both pending free agents who could move. Yangervis Solarte may not clear waivers, but could be claimed and pursued. And Asdrubal Cabrera also represents a possibility.

    Cabrera, like Lowrie, comes with a club option for 2018. In Lowrie’s case, it’s just a $6MM cost to keep him (against a $1MM buyout). He has surely played well enough to make that a decent asset to move over the winter. And perhaps Oakland isn’t all that anxious to press Franklin Barreto into everyday duty in the majors just yet. After all, he’s only 21, didn’t hit much in his brief debut, and has encountered a rising strikeout rate at Triple-A. Lowrie could help stabilize the infield the rest of the way or even in 2018, or he could still be flipped if a decent offer comes along.

    How do you guys see the [free-agent] market for Jay Bruce developing? I have a hard time believing that a 30/31-year-old who has six seasons where he OPSed over .800 would have trouble locking down a fourth year at a $13MM AAV. — Alex W.

    As Alex helpfully pointed out in his email, there are indeed quite a few corner outfielders that have landed free-agent contracts in that range. Recent deals that could work as comparables run from Nick Markakis (4/$44MM) and Josh Reddick (4/$52MM) up to Nick Swisher (4/$56MM) and Curtis Granderson (4/$60MM). Bruce is a plausible candidate to land in that general realm.

    I do think Bruce is flying under the radar a bit, given the obvious appeal of his quality offensive output this year — .267/.334/.541 with 32 homers. It doesn’t hurt that he has turned things on thus far since going to the Indians, has finally reversed the abysmal defensive metrics, and is regarded as a top-shelf professional. The two lost seasons of 2014 and 2015 are hard to ignore entirely, and he has never hit lefties nearly so much as righties, but he has returned to his prior trajectory since and has been average at the plate when facing southpaws this season. Plus, there won’t be any draft compensation to contend with.

    But where exactly he falls, and whether he gets a fourth year or instead takes a higher AAV over three, will depend upon market forces. J.D. Martinez and Justin Upton (if he opts out) would be the two top corner outfielders, but both are righty bats that would require very significant contracts. Granderson and Melky Cabrera will present alternatives for teams seeking lefty pop, but neither has quite Bruce’s present power and both are much older. All things considered, Bruce should be fairly well positioned.

    I’m wondering if the Giants’ plan to re-tool, rather than rebuild, has a reasonable chance of success. Does SF have only two or three spots, like one outfielder and two pitchers, that will make the difference in being competitive? Or will the re-tooling need to involve more spots on the roster, like two outfielders, maybe an infielder (third base), and three or four pitchers? And are there players available in free-agency for them to do that? — Tim D.

    Let’s start with the presumption that Johnny Cueto opts into the remainder of his deal. That would fill one of the rotation slots but also keeps a lot of cash on the books — over $150MM total already for 2018, with more than $100MM promised in each of the next two seasons. And the club will also have to consider what it’ll cost to keep Madison Bumgarner around past 2019.

    Looking over the roster — see the current depth chart here — the Giants will face questions in a variety of areas. Third base is unresolved, the team needs at least one starting outfielder (a center-field-capable player would perhaps be preferred, bumping Denard Span to left), and several bench/platoon roles are open to question. The team will likely at least look into adding a starter, though it could choose instead to go with Matt Moore along with Ty Blach or another less-established pitcher to line up behind Cueto, Bumgarner, and Jeff Samardzija. Bullpens can always be improved, though the Giants can hope for a bounceback from Mark Melancon and continued performance from reclamation hit Sam Dyson in the late innings.

    On the whole, then, perhaps a more dramatic roster overhaul isn’t really needed. Assuming the club is willing to spend up to, but not past, the $180MM-ish payroll it carried entering the current season, that leaves some room to add. But the long-term commitments and 2017 downturns certainly also speak in favor of exercising some caution. I’d expect a focus on striking shorter-term deals with veterans.

    Possibilities at third could include Pablo Sandoval, Todd Frazier, and Yunel Escobar, or the Giants could go bigger and chase the still-youthful Mike Moustakas. In the outfield, Lorenzo Cain would be the top center-field target, though he’ll be entering his age-32 season and won’t be cheap. There are some interesting alternatives, including Carlos Gomez, Jon Jay, and Jarrod Dyson. It’s also possible the Giants could chase Bruce or another corner piece while adding a player like Austin Jackson to platoon with Span in center. And as ever, there are lots of different pitchers available at different price points should they look to add there.

    Ultimately, there ought to be decent value available in the price range the Giants will be shopping. Whether that’ll work out or not … well, that’s dependent upon quite a few other factors and is tough to predict at this point.

    Which young, controllable starters (like Chris Archer, for example) will potentially be available via trade this upcoming offseason? –Matt H.

    Archer is certainly a good example of a guy who could be available and who’ll be asked about quite a lot. Depending upon how things end up for the Rays this year — currently, it’s not trending in the right direction — they may be more or less inclined to undertake a more dramatic move such as dealing the staff ace.

    Generally, though, I’d expect the pickings to be slim. Several teams that sit in the bottom of the standings and have young arms don’t seem likely to move them. For instance, I don’t really expect the Mets (Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, etc.), Blue Jays (Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez), or Phillies (Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez) to be looking to deal young starters.

    There are a few other names to watch, though. Michael Fulmer of the Tigers would figure to draw some of the most fervent interest, and Detroit has to be thinking creatively entering an offseason full of questions. The Pirates could decide that now’s the time to move Gerrit Cole, though he’ll only have two years of control remaining so may not really meet the parameters. Julio Teheran of the Braves will surely again be a topic of speculation, at least, and the Marlins will have to consider cashing in Dan Straily.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Heyman’s Latest: Astros, Verlander, Samardzija, Rays, Mets, Dickey]]> 2017-08-18T03:21:59Z 2017-08-18T03:20:58Z In his weekly Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag takes a look at the tightly packed AL Wild Card race. He also provides some notes from both the American League and National League. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights of relevance to the transactional landscape:

    • While the Astros could still conceivably renew their pursuit of Tigers righty Justin Verlander, it may be that the talks are over barring a significant change of heart from one or both of the organizations. Heyman cites a source who said he felt negotiations were “put to bed last week.” In other news regarding Houston, Heyman says the club “never got serious” in their apparently limited pursuits of Jose Quintana, Sonny Gray or Yu Darvish in July, and one source indicated to Heyman that it never even made an offer for Quintana this summer. The Astros, of course, pursued Quintana extensively this offseason, so the front office was likely already well aware of Chicago’s lofty asking price for Quintana.
    • It seems the Giants have yet to place righty Jeff Samardzija on waivers, with Heyman suggesting it’s seen as unlikely he’ll be claimed when he does go on the wire. But the belief is that the starter could be targeted if he does clear waivers. Samardzija has carried compelling strikeout (160) and walk (23) numbers through his 155 2/3 innings on the year, though he has also allowed 22 home runs and owns a 4.74 ERA. He has turned in four-straight quality outings, it’s worth noting.
    • The Rays are interested in finding a right-handed hitter, according to Heyman, though it’s unclear just what the club might realistically look to do. Tampa Bay has not performed as had been hoped when the team reshaped its roster over the summer, which surely also alters the picture. Reserves such as Trevor Plouffe, Daniel Robertson, and Peter Bourjos have all struggled with the bat, though finding upgrades will be challenging at this stage. (As mostly goes without saying, the decision to part with Tim Beckham has not looked good thus far.)
    • After striking a variety of deals already, the Mets are “still working hard” to deal away more players this August, Heyman writes. Veteran outfielder Curtis Granderson still seems like the most obvious possible trade piece, though perhaps infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, lefty Jerry Blevins, catcher Rene Rivera, or even recently-acquired reliever A.J. Ramos could be moved.
    • The Braves are considering exercising their $8MM club option over knuckleballer R.A. Dickey for the 2018 season, per Heyman. That option comes with a $500K buyout, effectively making it a $7.5MM decision. The Braves are pleased with the 42-year-old’s durability, innings and leadership. Through 141 frames this season, Dickey has a 3.89 ERA with 6.1 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and a 49.5 percent ground-ball rate. Realistically, the club would be hard pressed to find better value on the open market and will need the innings next year.
    • Some clubs believe that the Angels are the team that placed the claim on Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler, per Heyman, who notes that Anaheim is still in the market for a second base upgrade. However, the Halos have only “limited” interest in Braves second baseman Brandon Phillips, who has reportedly cleared revocable waivers and is having a solid season at the plate.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[2017 Opt-Out Clause Update]]> 2017-08-14T20:55:49Z 2017-08-14T19:41:13Z The last look we took at the handful of players with opt-out clauses following the 2017 season was more than a month ago, and a few of their situations may have changed since that early July check-in. Here’s an update on this group of potential free agents…

    [Related: MLBTR Free Agent Power Rankings: August Edition]

    Trending Up

    • Justin Upton, Tigers ($88.5MM from 2018-21): There have been plenty of suggestions that there’s no way Upton will walk away from that contract, but we’re not really sold on that notion. Upton was terrible in his first three months with the Tigers but is hitting .274/.352/.542 (137 wRC+) with 45 homers dating back to July 1, 2016. Over the past calendar year, he’s hitting .281/.366/.571 (148 wRC+) with 40 homers in 631 PAs. He’s been seven to nine runs above average in left field, per UZR and DRS, as well. Upton will play next year at the age of 30 and needs only to feel he can top Hanley Ramirez’s guarantee to opt out. Beyond that, he may simply like the idea of moving to a team that isn’t openly trying to pare back its payroll and retool for the future.
    • Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees ($67MM from 2018-20): Tanaka’s home-run woes are an unequivocally troubling issue, but his numbers since the summer began are encouraging. Since May 26, Tanaka has a 3.99 ERA with 10.7 K/9, 1.9 BB/9 and a 47.6 percent ground-ball rate — good for a 3.12 xFIP and a 3.17 SIERA. The numbers are even better if you look at his past nine starts (3.00 ERA, 65 K, 12 BB, 57 innings). The health concerns are well known. Tanaka had a partial UCL tear in his rookie season but was able to avoid Tommy John, and he’s currently on the DL with what is reportedly some minor shoulder fatigue. The righty has averaged 2.2 HR/9 this year, but he’s also going to be just 29 years old next year. An opt-out looked highly unlikely two months ago but now looks entirely plausible, as long as this latest DL trip proves minor.
    • Welington Castillo, Orioles ($7MM player option): Since last check, Castillo has absolutely raked. He’s batted .308/.345/.500 with four homers and three doubles in his past 84 PAs, and his overall batting line it up to .283/.319/.457 (103 wRC+). Castillo’s framing marks have improved from some of the worst in the league to roughly average (per Baseball Prospectus), and he’s halted an incredible 46 percent of stolen-base attempts against him in 2017. He should be able to top a one-year, $7MM deal with ease this winter.

    Trending Down

    • Greg Holland, Rockies ($15MM player option): Since our last check, Holland has reminded everyone that he is indeed mortal. In his past 11 2/3 frames, he’s coughed up eight runs on a dozen hits and six walks with 14 strikeouts. Six of those runs have come in his past two outings, but as long as that proves to be a blip on the radar, Holland still seems a safe bet to opt out. If he significantly fades in his first year back from Tommy John or lands on the disabled list, though, there’s at least a chance that he takes the option. Assuming he remains healthy, though, Holland will likely look to top Mark Melancon’s four-year, $62MM deal this winter.
    • Johnny Cueto, Giants ($84MM from 2018-21): It’s been almost a month since Cueto last set foot on a Major League mound, as he’s been sidelined with a forearm issue that has significantly clouded his chances of opting out. Reports earlier in the summer suggested that a slow start wasn’t going to deter Cueto from opting out, but a month-long injury scare and an ERA in the upper-4.00s certainly might. Cueto, 32 in February, has a 4.59 ERA with 8.0 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and the second worst ground-ball rate of his career (39.2 percent). FIP, xFIP and SIERA all peg him at 4.41 or worse.

    Unchanged Since Last Check

    • Matt Wieters, Nationals ($10.5MM player option): Wieters wasn’t hitting in early July, and he’s hitting even less now. His defensive reputation limited him to a two-year, $21MM deal with a player option after year one on the 2016-17 open market, and that was coming off a much better offensive season. Wieters seems extremely likely to take the $10.5MM in 2018.
    • Ian Kennedy, Royals ($49MM from 2018-20): Kennedy’s results have improved slightly since the last opt-out update, but it’s hardly enough to make it likely that he’ll opt out of that significant guarantee. Through 120 innings in 2017, Kennedy has averaged 1.65 HR/9, tying a career-worst mark, while both his strikeout and walk rates have gone the wrong direction. He’s also missed a couple of weeks with a hamstring injury, and he’ll turn 33 this December.
    • Wei-Yin Chen, Marlins ($52MM from 2018-20): No change here. Chen has scarcely been able to pitch in 2017 due to a reported partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament. He’s reportedly still aiming for a late comeback, but that won’t be enough to give him the earning power to top his remaining guarantee.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Giants Have Considered Moving Matt Moore To Bullpen]]> 2017-08-14T01:22:24Z 2017-08-14T01:22:24Z
  • The Giants have considered moving starter Matt Moore to the bullpen, according to Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News (on Twitter). Moore has pitched in relief just twice in 131 career appearances, both of which occurred during the left-hander’s short major league introduction with the Rays in 2011. The former big-time prospect has been somewhat disappointing as a starter, though, and has seen his velocity tumble this year amid what may be a career-worst season (5.71 ERA/4.67 FIP/4.91 xFIP in 135.2 innings). The Giants can either bring the 28-year-old Moore back next season on a $9MM club option or buy him out for $1MM.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Unsigned Draft Pick Jack Conlon To Go To Texas A&M]]> 2017-08-12T17:38:59Z 2017-08-12T16:09:04Z AUGUST 12: Rather than signing with the Giants, Conlon will head to Texas A&M,’s Kendall Rogers tweets. The Orioles originally drafted Conlon but failed to sign him over an issue with his physical. After he was granted free agency, he struck a deal with the Giants. That deal, however, has fallen through after his physical with the Giants turned up a different medical issue, as Rosenthal tweets.

    JULY 17: The Giants have a deal in place with prospect Jack Conlon, pending a physical, per Ken Rosenthal of MLB Network (via Twitter). Conlon, a high-school righty who had been chosen by the Orioles in the fourth round of the recent Rule 4 draft, was granted free agency after failing to sign.

    Baltimore determined that Conlon’s physical did not pass muster. When the team declined to offer him at least 40% of the slot value of the pick with which he was chosen — in this case, $409K — he qualified for the open market.

    As Baseball America’s Hudson Belinsky recently explained, the Ballengee Group client was expected to command $1MM or more for a bonus. Conlon had committed to Texas A&M, and attending college remained at least a theoretical option prior to his agreement with the Giants.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Giants Aiming To Win In 2018]]> 2017-08-11T13:51:34Z 2017-08-11T13:51:34Z The Brewers have gone a horrid 9-17 since the All-Star break, yet they’re still only two games behind the Cubs for the National League Central lead. As such, general manager David Stearns remains on the hunt for potential upgrades, writes Adam McCalvy of The Brewers “are constantly monitoring the waiver wire,” revealed Stearns, who’s optimistic that he’ll be able to add outside help in the coming weeks. “I wouldn’t put it as a definite, but I certainly think it is a possibility that between now and the end of August we are able to pull something off,” he said. Milwaukee is specifically looking to breathe life into its sputtering offense, according to McCalvy, which aligns with their reported interest in Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler. The veteran might not even make it to the Brewers via waivers, though, and McCalvy relays that the team has failed in its attempts to add players via claims this month. When the Brewers have claimed players, clubs ahead of them in the waiver pecking order have either beaten them to the punch or the players’ teams pulled them back.

    More from the NL:

    • In an effort to put a disastrous 2017 behind them and return to relevance next year, the Giants could make big offseason changes, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Manager Bruce Bochy admitted that the Giants must add to their offense, telling Nightengale, “We really need a big bopper in that lineup, just to take the pressure off everybody else.’’ In response, Nightengale lists free agents-to-be J.D. Martinez and Jay Bruce as potential targets for the outfielder-needy Giants. The club could also explore trades involving the likes of first baseman Brandon Belt and second baseman Joe Panik, relays Nightengale, though moving either or both would not signal a rebuild. “We’ve had a lot of heavy lifts over the years in the 25-year history of this investor group, but we don’t believe we have to have a tear-down,” said CEO Larry Baer. “We’re not fearful, but actually very optimistic we’ll turn this around. Our history shows us that if we have a down year, we bounce back.”
    • The surging Cardinals are now within a game of the Cubs, and they’re largely content with their roster as a result, tweets Jon Morosi of MLB Network. The Redbirds do have interest in trading for a reliever, though, Morosi adds. St. Louis’ bullpen has already been a bright spot this year, as the group entered Thursday seventh in the majors in ERA and 10th in fWAR. Cardinals relievers have been even better in the season’s second half, having posted a 2.83 ERA with 9.99 K/9 against 1.9 BB/9. In any event, if they do look to further bolster their bullpen, MLBTR’s Steve Adams just named some relievers who could change homes this month.
    • Newly promoted slugger Rhys Hoskins will initially play left field for the Phillies, but he’ll shift to his natural position – first base – when Aaron Altherr returns from the disabled list in a few weeks, reports Todd Zolecki of That will relegate first baseman Tommy Joseph to the bench. The Phillies were unable to find a taker for Joseph before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, and they’re likely to resume their efforts to move him in the offseason, notes Zolecki. As for other Phillies prospects, neither second baseman Scott Kingery nor shortstop J.P. Crawford are shoo-ins for season-opening spots in the club’s lineup in 2018. The Phillies instead seem content to continue with Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis if they win spring training position battles. GM Matt Klentak doesn’t believe Hernandez or Galvis have reached their peaks yet, so he’s fine with keeping the soon-to-be 28-year-olds around in prominent roles.
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 8/6/17]]> 2017-08-06T22:52:46Z 2017-08-06T22:52:46Z Here are the latest minor moves from around baseball, with the newest transactions at the top of the post…

    • Conor Gillaspie accepted an assignment to the Giants’ Triple-A affiliate, manager Bruce Bochy told reporters (including’s Jonathan Hawthorne).  Gillaspie had the option to become a free agent after being designated for assignment earlier this week, though he chose to remain in San Francisco’s organization after clearing waivers.  The infielder has been plagued by back problems this season and hit just .163/.218/.288 over 87 plate appearances.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[10 Veterans Clear Revocable Waivers]]> 2017-08-07T12:39:11Z 2017-08-06T19:41:40Z A slew of household names cleared revocable waivers recently, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag in a pair of articles. The list consists of Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper, Reds first baseman Joey Votto, Tigers left fielder Justin Upton, Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez, Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford and four Mets – outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, second baseman Neil Walker and reliever AJ Ramos. All of these players are now eligible for August trades.

    It’s obvious that Harper, one of the game’s preeminent superstars, isn’t going anywhere. As Heyman notes, no team bothered to claim Harper because they realized putting the 24-year-old through waivers was merely a procedural maneuver by first-place Washington.

    Votto, 33, won’t be on the move, either, as he’s a Cincinnati institution who has a full no-trade clause and a guaranteed $171MM coming his way through 2024.

    Hernandez also enjoys full no-trade rights, though he hasn’t aged nearly as well as Votto. The former ace’s performance has declined drastically over the past couple years, making his contract a burden to the Mariners. The 31-year-old is on a $26MM salary this season and next, and he’s due another $27MM in 2019. Further hampering his trade value, King Felix is on the disabled list with right biceps tendinitis.

    Davis, meanwhile, has a partial no-trade clause, and it’s difficult to imagine any team showing interest in the once-elite offensive force. The 31-year-old is amid his second straight mediocre season since re-signing in Baltimore on a seven-year, $161MM contract.

    Upton, 29, is having an outstanding season, but he comes with a pricey salary ($22.13MM through 2021), and both his 20-team no-trade rights and opt-out clause complicate matters. Upton could vacate the remaining four years and $88MM-plus left on his deal after this season, but there’s a strong likelihood he’ll ride out the remainder of the contract, Heyman suggests. Regardless, there hasn’t been any real trade interest in Upton to this point, according to Heyman.

    With his $8MM salary this season, Crawford is eminently affordable now, but he’s due $60MM from 2018-21 and is having a dreadful year offensively. While Crawford remains a great defender, teams might be leery of taking on a highly paid 30-year-old (31 in January) whose offensive production has suddenly cratered. He’s another member of the full no-trade clause club, too, further decreasing the chances of a deal.

    As for the Mets, we now know of six of their veterans who have passed through waivers, with outfielders Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson having done so earlier this week. The best of the bunch is Cespedes, whom the Mets re-signed to a four-year, $110MM contract in the offseason. Even if the Mets wanted to deal Cespedes, the 31-year-old has a full NTC that would enable him to block any move.

    Walker has also dealt with hamstring issues – a partial tear that sidelined the 31-year-old from mid-June until last week. The soon-to-be free agent has gone just 3 of 26 at the plate since his return, but he still comes with a quality track record and is on pace for another decent offensive season (.254/.332/.431 in 281 plate appearances). It’s unclear, though, whether there will be any teams clamoring for the switch-hitting Walker, who’s has roughly $6MM of his $17.2MM salary remaining through season’s end, given a lack of demand for second basemen.

    Cabrera, 31, drew pre-trade deadline interest from the Red Sox and Indians, but they’ve patched up their infield situations since then. Moreover, the Mets are reportedly giving strong consideration to going forward with Cabrera next year, when he’s owed either a reasonable salary ($8.5MM) or a $2MM buyout.

    Ramos just joined the Mets last week in a trade with the National League East rival Marlins. Several teams were interested in acquiring the 32-year-old leading up to July 31, though some of those clubs went on to make other deals for relievers after he went to the Mets. Plus, the Mets may favor keeping Ramos in hopes of contending in 2018. He’s owed around $2MM through the end of this season and has one more year of arbitration eligibility.