The San Francisco Giants have suddenly emerged as one of the favorites to sign Bryce Harper, but the star outfielder may have to accept a somewhat untraditional free agent contract if he wants to play in the Bay Area.
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Giants have no intention of offering Harper a contract in the neighborhood of the 10-year, $300 million deal he has been seeking. However, they do plan to offer the 26-year-old a “lucrative short-term deal,” which likely means it would have a higher average annual value than some of the offers other teams have made or discussed with Harper.
The Giants clearly have money they are willing to spend. They agreed to a trade last year that would have seen them acquire Giancarlo Stanton and the $265 million remaining on his contract, and they have only spent $9 million in free agency this winter. They desperately need a power hitter in the middle of their lineup, and Harper would provide that.
Ultimately, whether or not Harper ends up in San Francisco will come down to how much he prefers the Giants over other teams. It seems unlikely that they are going to make the highest offer in terms of total dollar amount, but there could be something to the talk of Harper wanting to play in San Francisco. Perhaps he’ll be willing to sign a shorter deal that will allow him to hit free agency again in the prime of his career.
The San Francisco Giants are very much in the Bryce Harper sweepstakes, and they’re not hiding it.
Giants CEO Larry Baer revealed Saturday that the team’s meeting with Harper this week went a full four hours — longer than the team expected — and added that the organization is “giving it a shot.”
Much like the general public, the Giants don’t seem to know where Harper’s thinking is at this point. Some reports indicate that the outfielder prefers the West Coast, which could benefit San Francisco hugely. Others suggest that his old team is carefully watching some potential suitors with the potential of jumping in aggressively. We don’t know much, but we do know that the Giants are serious and aren’t hiding that fact.
The San Francisco Giants are in pretty dire need of outfield help, and are looking at some curious names in a bid to make it happen.
According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Giants have internally discussed New York Yankees outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, and he believes that they may be willing to pursue a bad contract swap to bring in the one-time All-Star.
Ellsbury missed the entire 2018 season with a torn labrum in his left hip. His name popped up in some other hefty contract swap rumors this offseason, but nothing came of it.
Relying on Ellsbury would be a massive risk for the Giants, but it’s indicative of how much they’re struggling to find an outfielder right now. The 35-year-old is owed upwards of $42 million through 2020, plus a likely $5 million buyout in 2021.
The Oakland Raiders are headed to Las Vegas in 2020, but before they get there, they must decide where to play during the 2019 season.
The Raiders’ lease at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum expired following the 2018 season. There had been talks to renew the deal, but negotiations fell apart on December 11 when the city of Oakland filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against the NFL and all 32 of its teams in protest of the upcoming Las Vegas move.
So without a home location in place, the Raiders have actively sought other accommodations, including San Francisco’s Oracle Park, which is home of the MLB’s Giants.
ESPN reports the Raiders are actively in talks with the Giants about sharing the stadium in 2019, but the final decision may be that of the San Francisco 49ers. In order for the Raiders and Giants to share Oracle Park, the 49ers would have to waive their territorial NFL rights to the San Francisco market. The NFL would also have to approve any such deal.
Raiders owner Mark Davis was noncommittal on the early reports, telling ESPN, “when we’re ready to make the announcement, we will.”
The Raiders will host the Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans and Cincinnati Bengals in 2019, with their eighth home game coming against the Chicago Bears in London.
The San Francisco Giants made an inexpensive move on Wednesday to bolster their starting rotation, signing left-hander Drew Pomeranz to a one-year contract.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the deal is worth just $1.5 million.
Coming off a down season in 2018, Pomeranz could end up being one of the better buy-low free agents on the market. While he has battled injuries throughout his career and posted a 2-6 record and 6.08 ERA in 74 innings last year, the 30-year-old was considered a big addition for the Red Sox two years ago and initially lived up to the hype.
In his first full season with Boston in 2017, Pomeranz went 17-6 with a 3.32 ERA. He put together some quality seasons before that with the A’s and Padres and has a respectable career ERA of 3.92. There’s a reason we listed Pomeranz as one of our best potential bargains of MLB free agency, and there’s virtually no risk for the Giants in signing him to a $1.5 million deal. If he stays healthy, there’s no reason Pomeranz can’t have a bounce-back season pitching in the National League.
The San Francisco Giants are reportedly exploring the possibility of trading second baseman Joe Panik, and that may be because they have their eye on a free agent to replace the veteran infielder.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported on Thursday that the Giants have been talking with teams about a potential Panik trade, and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic added that they are interested in free agent second baseman DJ LeMahieu.
Connecting the dots makes it seem like the Giants feel LeMahieu would be an upgrade over Panik, which isn’t all that hard to believe. Panik hit .254 last season with four homers, 24 RBI, and an OBP of just .307. LeMahieu hit .276 with a career-high 15 home runs and drove in 62 with the Colorado Rockies. He’s a career .298 hitter who batted over .300 from 2015-2017, winning the batting title with a .348 average in 2016. LeMahieu is also a two-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner.
The Nationals signed Brian Dozier to a contract on Thursday, so LeMahieu will likely be the next domino to fall at the second base position.
Madison Bumgarner trade rumors continue to linger, and one report says that there is a clear suitor if the San Francisco Giants opt to deal their left-handed ace.
According to Jon Morosi of MLB.com, the Giants have had substantial discussions with the Milwaukee Brewers about a Bumgarner trade, and the Brewers are still privately considering how willing they would be to give up the sort of young talent that would be required to make the deal happen.
Morosi notes that the Philadelphia Phillies also have some interest in Bumgarner, but are more focused on adding through free agency rather than via trade.
A Bumgarner trade still seems less likely now than it did earlier in the offseason. The Giants may wait until the season to deal him, as they’d have a broader group of potentially interested teams. The only downside is they’d be gambling on him staying healthy during the season. Milwaukee sounds like they could put together a prospect package now to make it happen and fill a need, as their rotation lacks top-end talent.
Troy Tulowitzki held an open workout on Tuesday in hopes of proving that he is fully healthy and ready to contribute in 2019, and it appears at least one team is strongly considering giving him a shot.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that the San Francisco Giants had the “most impressive presence” of any MLB team at Tulowitzki’s workout, with new general manager Farhan Zaidi and manager Bruce Bochy both in attendance to get a look at the shortstop.
Tulowitzki did not play last because of heel injuries, and the 34-year-old appeared in just 66 games in 2017 due to an ankle injury. He batted .249 with a .678 OPS, so he was already showing signs of decline before the significant injuries.
That said, the Toronto Blue Jays released Tulowitzki with $38 million remaining on his contract, so he is likely looking to sign a minimum contract with his next team. That significantly limits the risk involved with adding the five-time All-Star, and there have already been reports that one contending team is keeping an eye on him. If Tuesday’s workout was any indication, San Francisco is a potential landing spot for Tulowitzki.
The MLB offseason is already underway, as proven by the New York Yankees’ major acquisition of James Paxton from the Seattle Mariners. Still, the largest dominoes have yet to fall, and it may be another week or two — if not more — before that begins happening.
Thus, teams are, in a sense, still positioning themselves for the offseason. Payrolls are being plotted and free agents are being explored, while the trade market begins to come to life as well. But some teams, for a variety of reasons, need to be more active than others given the places where their franchises are.
Here are ten teams who are facing very important offseasons for the future of their franchise.
10. San Francisco Giants
The Giants find themselves in a precarious position a year after an eventful offseason saw them go all-in to contend in 2018. They ended up losing 89 games thanks to injury and underperformance from some of their bigger names. Now, new president Farhan Zaidi is tasked with charting a path forward. How he handles this offseason could tell us a lot. The Giants can spend if they want to, but it seems unlikely that another free agent will put them over the top. Such a signing could ultimately hinder them in the long run. Alternately, they could try to dismantle some of their valuable pieces, but that would prove controversial. It’s a big decision that will have long-lasting impacts.
Madison Bumgarner has helped the San Francisco Giants win three World Series championships and is one of the most dominant postseason pitchers of his generation, but it is not out of the question that the team could move on from him during a rebuilding phase.
New Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, who served as the general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers over the past four seasons, had high praise for Bumgarner on Wednesday but would not rule out trading the left-hander.
Bumgarner is owed a team-friendly $12 million in 2019 before he will become an unrestricted free agent. The Giants won just 73 games this season and 64 in 2017, and they are currently one of the worst teams in baseball. If Zaidi feels they are a few years away from being competitive, signing Bumgarner to a massive free agent deal may not make a ton of sense.
Of course, Bumgarner is one of the most popular players in Giants history. The 2014 World Series and NLCS MVP has a record of 8-3 and a 2.11 ERA in the postseason. While his success on the big stage is undeniable, San Francisco has to get to the playoffs for any of that to matter.
Zaidi just watched his former team extend one of its most important players, but the Giants are in a much different place than their biggest rival. If Zaidi has a chance to get a major haul in return for Bumgarner, he wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t at least consider it.