*Winter Meetings are coming!
Well, we made it through the deadline to tender contracts (or not) to arbitration-eligible players, and now there are 56 new free agents (non-tendered) to go with the long list of players who were already out there. The Giants, as we know, kept eight of their ten arbitration-eligible players, signing six of those eight to new one-year deals (the most notable was $2 million for Alex Dickerson), tendering contracts with salaries still to be determined to Reyes Moronta and Donovan Solano, and cutting loose five players (Melvin Adon, Tyler Anderson, Chadwick Tromp, Rico Garcia, and Daniel Robertson). Any or all of those five could make their way back to the Giants on minor league deals, but with so much inventory out there, why not do a little Christmas shopping?
The Winter Meetings
MLB’s Winter Meetings for many years were the traditional kick-off to big free-agent signings and sometimes to big trades. In recent years, they’ve fizzled out in terms of drama, although last year, the biggest free agents (Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg) did all sign deals during the Winter Meetings. But as the free agent market has grown icy cold and the mechanics of doing business have entered the 21st century–you can text instead of holing up in some hotel room in Nashville or Texas or Florida or San Diego–the biggest “excitement” of the Winter Meetings has turned out to be the Rule 5 Draft (December 10 this time), and–eh.
Because of COVID, this year there will be no hotel rooms and no reporters lurking in the lobby to eavesdrop or note who was talking to whom. The “Winter Meetings” will be conducted over Zoom, just like most everything else this year. It could be argued that the model had already outlived its usefulness even before the pandemic. Still, it’s baseball news to get us through this dark, cold, and scary December.
What are the Giants thinking?
There have been rumors and there have been some “horse’s mouth” tidbits. The Giants did one of their “Chalk Talk @ Home” events for their season ticket holders over YouTube on Thursday, with the four broadcasters hosting first Farhan Zaidi and Scott Harris and later Gabe Kapler.
Here’s what the rumor mill has churned up.
- The Giants are looking for starting pitchers and are among the most active on the free agent market in pursuing them. Observers were surprised that they cut Tyler Anderson loose because it leaves them with no lefties in their rotation unless you’re excited about another round of Andrew Suarez or Conner Menez. Anyway, look especially for the Giants to pursue free agent lefty starters. (I mean, though…Jon Lester? Again? Five years later?)
- The latest rumors also have the Giants, along with the Phillies, linked to the best free agent closers on the market, Brad Hand and Liam Hendriks. While that is understandable (the Giants and Phils both had really bad bullpens in 2020), it’s hard to see how a free-agent closer signing fits the Giants’ developmental stage. That said, they definitely could use a couple of upgrades, especially from the right side, in the bullpen. I pine for Archie Bradley, but I imagine he’ll get a lot of interest now that he’s been cut loose.
- Somewhat surprisingly, the Giants have jettisoned all of their catching depth. They entered the offseason with five catchers on their 40-man roster and now they have just two, Buster Posey and Joey Bart, having cut Tyler Heineman, Aramis Garcia, and Chadwick Tromp. The former two have already been signed by other teams, and it remains to be seen if Tromp ends up back with the Giants. Whether he does or not, look for the Giants to pursue a catcher to back up Posey while Bart spends some time in AAA.
- Having worked out deals with arbitration-eligible outfielders Alex Dickerson, Darin Ruf, and Austin Slater, the Giants would seem to be more than set in the outfield with those three plus Mike Yastrzemski and Mauricio Dubon. They also still have Luis Alexander Basabe, Steven Duggar, and Jaylin Davis on the 40-man roster after earlier letting Chris Shaw and Joey Rickard go. But rumors persist that they are interested in Marcell Ozuna, who would be a massive upgrade over Ruf or even Dickerson. It would be nice to have Ozuna’s right-handed power bat in the middle of the lineup for sure, but…it just doesn’t make much sense right now. The outfield is currently a strength of the major league roster, and top prospects Heliot Ramos, Hunter Bishop, Luis Matos, and Alexander Canario are on the way. Some of the more interesting non-tenders around the league were outfielders (Eddie Rosario, David Dahl, Kyle Schwarber, Adam Duvall), but again–are any of those notable upgrades for what the Giants already have? Maybe.
- The Giants needed a lefty infielder to back up/platoon with righties Longoria, Flores, and Solano, and they did sign Jason Vosler several weeks ago. But Zaidi has also said that Vosler’s signing won’t preclude them from pursuing more experienced options. Vosler is 27 and a career minor leaguer. It’s not hard to imagine that there might be an upgrade there.
The Rule 5 Draft
This year I find myself much more interested in whom the Giants might lose (AAA reliever Tyler Cyr, in particular) than whom they might draft. They have drafted three Rule 5 players (Travis Bergen, Drew Ferguson, Dany Jimenez) in the Zaidi Era, and none of them worked out. 2019 Opening Day left fielder Connor Joe was also a Rule 5 Guy, taken from the Dodgers by the Reds and then traded to the Giants before Opening Day. Besides Cyr, there are two top-30 prospects (per mlb.com) left unprotected: catcher Ricardo Genoves (#29) and outfielder Sandro Fabian (#30). If the Giants lose anyone in the Rule 5 Draft, it could very well be one of those three.
So…will there be Hot Stove news, Giants-related or otherwise, during the week of Winter “Meetings”? Stay tuned to TWG for all the breaking news. Lefty out.