- Numerous teams are obviously preparing to pursue Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich, who the Fish are reportedly increasingly willing to deal. Just how likely is a deal? Heyman cites a few sources who describe the situation as one in which the club is making Yelich and teammate J.T. Realmuto available in talks. Among the organizations with some level of interest in Yelich, per Heyman, are the Diamondbacks, Braves, and Giants. No doubt there are plenty of others, too, that will line up for both players.
- Speaking of options, the Giants are evidently still looking at quite a range of options in the outfield. Heyman says that trade candidates include not only Yelich but also Andrew McCutchen and Juan Lagares. (Others, of course, have linked the team to Billy Hamilton throughout the winter.) The free agent market is still chock full of possibilities, and Heyman says the team is still a potential landing spot for top option J.D. Martinez as well as the previously rumored Jay Bruce. Beyond that, Carlos Gomez, Carlos Gonzalez, Jarrod Dyson, and Jon Jay seem to be on the radar for the Giants.
In a dramatic and suspenseful article, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic chronicles the recent harrowing life-or-death race to get Astros first base coach Rich Dauer to Houston Methodist Hospital. On the day of the Astros’ championship parade, Dauer was present at the official ceremony to honor the team. He began to stagger as if drunk, and stepped to the back of the stage. From there, a panicked attempt to get Dauer to the hospital amidst a crowd of millions of people unfolded behind the scenes. The piece is incredibly well-written, and thankfully has a happy ending. It’s definitely worth a full read.
More from around MLB as we approach the end of December…
- Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun wonders if this offseason’s drama surrounding Orioles star Manny Machado could have been avoided. Meoli takes a look at the chances the Orioles had to explore trades or a contract extension with their prized third baseman, but he ultimately comes to the conclusion that there was never a reason to trade him until now. It also seems as though by the time Machado was a safe fixture in the O’s lineup, his value was sky-high, and he was close enough to free agency that an extension didn’t make sense for him (or his agent). While it remains to be seen whether Baltimore will actually end up dealing Machado, Meoli’s piece sheds some light on a tough set of circumstances for the Orioles.
- The Giants and Reds have remained active in talks about a trade that would send Billy Hamilton to San Francisco, according to Jon Morosi of MLB.com. The Reds have reportedly shown interest in Heliot Ramos, who is largely considered to be the Giants’ best prospect (he credits The Athletic with first report of this news). Hamilton, of course, is regarded as one of the best defenders in the game, and also creates a lot of runs with his speed alone. His career .298 on-base percentage is widely regarded as his achilles heel, but he could still provide plenty of value as an elite center fielder in AT&T Park’s spacious outfield. A couple months back, I wrote about the trade market for Hamilton, noting that the Giants were the best match for his services.
- The Giants are still in the market for an outfielder and bullpen help, and some in the organization think both needs could be met in one trade, NBC Sports Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic writes. The reliever trade market in particular is more appealing to some in the office than signing a bullpen arm. On the outfield front, the Giants are still talking with the Reds about Billy Hamilton, though Cincinnati is still making “high demands” for the speedy center fielder. As Pavlovic notes, the Giants could be even less likely to move young talent after swapping Christian Arroyo and two young pitching prospects to the Rays as part of the Evan Longoria trade.
- The Giants are also on the lookout for a veteran starter on a minor league deal, Pavlovic adds. Chris Stratton, Ty Blach, Tyler Beede, and Andrew Suarez are the in-house contenders for the two open spots in San Francisco’s rotation, and the team wants a more experienced arm in the mix to compete with all the youngsters.
- Infielder Josh Rutledge has agreed to a minor league deal (and, presumably, a Spring Training invite) with the Giants, tweets SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo. Rutledge has spent the past three seasons in the Red Sox organization and picked up 118 PAs with Boston this past season. He’s batted just .252/.319/.313 in 259 plate appearances across those three seasons but has played second base, shortstop and third base in the Majors (plus a brief 13-inning cameo at first base).
Infielder Alen Hanson has announced on his Instagram account that he has agreed to a deal with the Giants. It’s a minor-league pact, per Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter); h/t SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo, via Twitter, for noticing Hanson’s post.
Hanson, 25, was once viewed as one of the game’s hundred or so top prospects. The switch-hitter has continued to advance, first reaching the majors in 2016, but analysts have soured on his outlook along the way.
In 2017, Hanson received his first extended run in the majors. He was claimed off waivers in early June by the White Sox from the Pirates after a rough start to the season. Over his 175 plate appearances in Chicago, Hanson produced a .231/.276/.375 batting line with four home runs and nine steals.
The Sox non-tendered Hanson after the season, so clearly that rebuilding organization was not convinced of his future. But he did show quality baserunning ability while playing all over the diamond — second, short, third, and all three outfield positions — so perhaps there’s still a possibility that Hanson could turn into a useful utilityman if he can make some strides at the plate.
- Jacoby Ellsbury “might consider” waiving his no-trade clause for a few teams, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, who suggests the Giants as a possibility in that regard. That’s probably music to the ears of many Yankees fans, though it’s worth noting that there’s no indication that the Giants would want any part of Ellsbury’s enormous contract. San Francisco has a need for a center fielder, but the Giants have their own luxury tax concerns. Even if the Yankees are willing to absorb a significant amount of the remaining $68MM+ that Ellsbury is owed, there’s no indication that the Giants view him as an upgrade. San Francisco could, for instance, simply sign a player in the Jarrod Dyson mold to a considerably shorter-term deal, knowing that he’d be a vastly superior defensive option with lesser financial risk.
10:04pm: The Associated Press reports that the Rays will pay $14.5MM to the Giants and are responsible to the $13MM that is yet owed to Span. Specifically, the Rays will pay $2MM to the Giants by the end of 2017 to cover Longoria’s $2MM trade bonus, and they’ll also pay another $3MM by Oct. 31, 2022. The remaining $9.5MM, per the AP report, will be deferred in payments from 2025-29.
In essence, then, the Giants are adding $60.5MM to their long-term ledger in order to acquire the final five years of Longoria’s contract. Moreover, it doesn’t appear that San Francisco will take much of a hit at all in terms of the luxury tax. So, when paired with the shedding of Matt Moore’s contract, the move should afford the team ample opportunity to add at least one outfielder on a multi-year deal while remaining comfortably south of the $197MM luxury tax threshold.
7:30pm: Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports (via Twitter) that the Rays will send between $10MM and $15MM to the Giants to cover a portion of Longoria’s remaining $86MM as well as a $2MM trade bonus.
11:51am: The Rays and Giants have agreed to a deal that will send Evan Longoria to San Francisco. Young infielder Christian Arroyo headlines the return, with veteran outfielder Denard Span going along with him to offset some of Longoria’s salary. Young pitchers Stephen Woods and Matt Krook are also bound for the Tampa Bay organization.
In addition to taking on Span’s contract, Tampa Bay will ship an as-yet-unknown amount of money to the Giants. The 32-year-old Longoria is owed another $86MM between now and 2022, including a $5MM buyout on a $13MM option for the 2023 campaign. He will also receive a $2MM assignment bonus.
Just how much of that will end up on the Giants’ books remains to be learned. The precise cash exchange has yet to be reported. Plus, there’s a bit of uncertainty surrounding Span’s future obligations. He is owed $9MM for 2018, along with a $4MM buyout of a $12MM mutual option for the ensuing season. Those obligations seem destined for San Francisco, but it’s not yet clear what’ll happen with the remaining $3MM signing bonus payment owed to Span in one month.
For both organizations, there’s quite a bit of risk in a transaction involving Longoria. The Giants are taking on a high-priced player who struggled to a career-low .261/.313/.424 batting line in 2017 — adding to a collection of costly, aging veterans. But the Rays are parting with the long-time face of the franchise.
If Longo can bounce back, the rewards could be significant. His days of top-level offensive production are likely in the past, but Longoria was a .273/.318/.521 hitter as recently as 2016, when he also swatted 36 home runs. Of course, that followed two less-than-excellent campaigns, so the overall trajectory of late has framed Longoria more as a solidly above-average hitter than an excellent one.
That said, it’s important to bear in mind that Longoria has also long delivered value with his glove. Though Defensive Runs Saved had observed a downturn of late, it credited him with a substantial bounceback (+11 runs) in 2017. Despite the tepid offensive output, then, Longoria contributed 3.6 rWAR and 2.5 fWAR in 2017.
In return for Longoria, the Rays will get not only salary relief but also some young talent. Arroyo is the chief piece here. He had a messy MLB debut and missed time due to injury in 2017, but is only 22 years of age and destroyed Triple-A pitching in a limited sample in the just-completed campaign. In the best-case scenario for the Rays, Arroyo may be able to compete for a job out of camp.
Span’s inclusion is mostly about cost. Still, he remains a useful player even as he closes in on his 34th birthday. In 2017, Span slashed .272/.329/.427 with a dozen home runs over 542 plate appearances. Though he’s no longer really capable of regular time in center and has battled through core and hip injuries in recent years, Span ought to be capable of at least average work in a corner spot and has long been a productive baserunner.
Padding the return here for the Rays are a pair of interesting young arms. As Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs tweets, both have quality stuff that still remains to be harnessed. The 22-year-old Woods just threw 110 innings of 2.95 ERA ball at the Class A level, with 9.2 K/9 against 5.2 BB/9. The righty is considered a relief prospect, as is the left-handed Krook, who will play the coming season at 23 years of age. Krook was unsigned as a first-round pick in 2013 and landed with the Giants as a fourth-rounder in 2016. Over his 91 1/3 frames at High-A in the just-competed season, Krook worked to a 5.12 ERA with 10.3 K/9 and 6.5 BB/9.
For the Rays, this move may be a precursor to further action. The club has been in talks on closer Alex Colome all winter. Many anticipate the team will trade a starter, with star Chris Archer representing the most intriguing possibility. Replacing Longoria with Arroyo means there’s arguably still some excess infield depth to work from. And Span could either be used as a part-time player or sent elsewhere to realize further cost savings.
The Giants, meanwhile, still have needs and will be looking to fill them without going over the luxury tax line. It seems this swap won’t impact their spending capacity too significantly, since the average annual values of the two contracts involved aren’t too far apart. But the move takes one outfielder out of the equation while filling the gap at third, possibly leaving the Giants still searching for both a center and corner piece.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times first reported Longoria was going via trade (via Twitter). Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (links to Twitter) and Robert Murray of Fan Rag (via Twitter) reported the other pieces involved. Murray was first to note on Twitter that the sides had struck a deal, with Jon Morosi of MLB Network (Twitter link) and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (Twitter link) mentioning the key names involved.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
After adding Evan Longoria, the Giants are eyeing a move for outfielder Jay Bruce, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com (via Twitter). That longstanding connection remains realistic in part because the move for Longoria does not significantly alter the team’s competitive balance tax considerations. The inclusion of Denard Span took care of that consideration and also opened a hole for a left-handed-hitting corner outfielder.
The 30-year-old Bruce would represent a big upgrade in terms of power, as he swatted 36 home runs in 2017, though he has also been in terms of on-base percentage and defensive ratings in recent years. It’s not clear whether San Francisco will be willing to guarantee Bruce four years, per Olney.
Meanwhile, Bruce’s agent, Matt Sosnick, tells KNBR 680’s Gary Radnich and Larry Krueger that his client is trying for a four-year pact and would “be thrilled” to end up in the Giants organization. Sosnick adds that the Astros and Giants were Bruce’s “top two” landing spots, but the Astros have made clear that there’s simply no fit in their organization at present. Sosnick says Bruce has been fielding offers but plans to see “how it shakes out with the Giants” before making any final decision on where to sign. That said, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that there’s no indication the sides are close to a deal at present.
What’s clear, though, is that the Giants organization views the Longoria acquisition as the first of multiple steps in its offseason plan. President Brian Sabean and GM Bobby Evans held a conference call with reporters today (link via KNBR’s Kerry Crowley), voicing a focus on bolstering their lineup — specifically by adding a more well-rounded replacement for Span.
“Our focus in addressing our outfield and our lineup, that remains an important part of our offseason,” said Evans. “It’s a work in progress, there’s no destination for us to speak to right now, we need to wait and see how things play out.”
Sabean, meanwhile, suggested that the Giants now “…hope to add accordingly and we hope it will be as significant of a move as this one.” That the Giants have their eyes on bolstering an offense that ranked last in the Majors with an 83 wRC+ last season and batted just .249/.309/.380 on the season as a whole is hardly a surprise, though their avenues for improvement are a bit more limited now that Longoria is slotted in at the hot corner.
Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik and Brandon Belt figure to round out the infield, with Buster Posey behind the dish and Hunter Pence’s bloated $18MM commitment occupying a corner outfield spot. Certainly, the Giants have room to add at least one outfielder to the mix, with center field standing out as a particularly thin area in terms of MLB-ready options to step into the fray. Bruce wouldn’t fit that bill, though the organization has also been linked to Billy Hamilton in trade rumblings and, speculatively, could pursue a similarly cost-effective/defensive-minded center field option if signing a corner bat is the preferred route.
- Olney also reports that the Giants are among the clubs considering righty Trevor Cahill for a rotation spot (Twitter link). Cahill, 30 in March, was terrific early in the year before a shoulder injury torpedoed his season. Through his first 41 1/3 innings with the Padres, Cahill logged a 3.27 ERA with 11.1 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 0.65 HR/9 and a 60.2 percent ground-ball rate. Upon returning from that injury, however, he was rocked for a 6.54 ERA In 42 2/3 frames between the Padres and Royals. Cahill’s newfound ability to miss bats completely evaporated after being activated from the DL (7.6 K/9), and he was unable to find the strike zone with any consistency (5.9 BB/9).
The Giants have announced a new one-year deal with catcher Nick Hundley, as Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area was among those to tweet. He receives a $2.5MM guarantee in the pact, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports on Twitter.
Hundey, 34, has spent the bulk of his career in the NL West. The ten-year MLB veteran will return for a second run with the Giants. With the move, San Francisco has lined up its reserve for star backstop Buster Posey.
Though he has rarely received anything approaching everyday playing time, Hundley has long been a heavily utilized piece. He has averaged nearly 300 plate appearances annually, with a lifetime .249/.300/.406 batting line.
For the most part, it was a typical season for Hundley in 2017. He strode to the plate 303 times and ended with a .244/.272/.418 output that was shy, but within range of, his career mean.
San Francisco will hope for a bit more bat, though palatable offensive output is only a part of the value of the respected veteran. Hundley is valued for his presence in the clubhouse and with the pitching staff. While he has never fared well in framing ratings, he does otherwise grade as a sturdy option behind the dish.