Category Archives: San Francisco Giants Store

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SAN FRANCISCO — It’ll be another extremely quiet awards season for the Giants.

MLB announced finalists for all the major honors on Monday afternoon and Mike Yastrzemski, the only Giant with a shot at being included, was not part of the field for National League Rookie of the Year. The three finalists are New York’s Pete Alonso (who should be a runaway winner), Atlanta’s Mike Soroka and San Diego’s Fernando Tatis Jr.

The Giants did not have a single player receive votes for any of the four major awards the two previous seasons, either, but this time there’s a difference. They did not even have a player get nominated for a Gold Glove, while Brandon Crawford and Buster Posey were at least finalists in 2018. Crawford won the Gold Glove in 2017, another down year for the franchise as a whole.

Yastrzemski was one of the few bright spots in 2019, posting a .272/.334/.518 slash line with 21 homers in 107 games. But it was a strong year for the NL’s rookies, and he finished tied for eighth among rookie hitters in WAR (2.2), per FanGraphs. Alonso hit 53 homers and drove in 120 runs for the Mets and Tatis Jr. had 22 homers and hit .317, posting 3.6 WAR in just 84 games. Soroka had a 2.68 ERA in 29 starts for the NL East champion Braves.

The league announced all the finalists on Monday. Craig Counsell, Mike Shildt and Brian Snitker are up for NL Manager of the Year. Jacob deGrom, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Max Scherzer are the finalists for Cy Young. Cody Bellinger, Christian Yelich and Anthony Rendon are the final three for MVP.

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SAN FRANCISCO — The decision to non-tender Kevin Pillar, like several others made over the past year, was not a popular one with Giants fans.

Pillar was a Willie Mac Award winner who did two things that fans could easily cheer: Hit home runs and make diving catches.

Go on Twitter and you’ll find fans who say they won’t attend a game next season and a weird contingent that believes Farhan Zaidi is a secret agent still working for the Dodgers. But all that anger ignores one key fact. The man who decided to move on from Pillar is the same one who acquired him a week into the season for two players who are no longer with the Blue Jays and one who had an 8.11 ERA in the minors.

The Giants hired Zaidi to make good decisions, and there’s no doubt that the trade for Pillar was a brilliant one. Zaidi believes moving on after one season is the right move, too, and time will tell if he’s correct.

What we know for now is that there’s no going back, and there will be a new look in center field. In a conversation on Monday afternoon, Zaidi said the emphasis will be on adding production to the corner outfield spots. It’s hard to find a good center fielder in free agency anyway, so the Giants will go young and go in-house.

Here’s what that might look like in 2020:

The Favorite
Mike Yastrzemski got just 30 innings in center field last season because Pillar was an everyday player, but he generally looked comfortable out there, and he should. Yastrzemski actually has more minor league starts in center field (224) than any other position, and he has over 2,000 professional innings of experience in the middle of the outfield.

Yastrzemski probably won’t be climbing many walls or diving nearly as often as Pillar did, but he did a nice job in the corners last year and was worth seven Defensive Runs Saved in right field and eight overall.

The Giants are fully confident that Yastrzemski can handle center field at Oracle Park — the dimensions are shrinking a bit, too — and if the season started today he would be their center fielder.

The Young Guys
A year ago at this time, Steven Duggar was the Center Fielder of the Future. Duggar is still just 26 years old and is expected to be 100 percent for spring training after another season-ending shoulder injury.

The Giants can’t go into 2020 counting on much from Duggar, but they certainly are hoping for a breakthrough. If he improves his plate discipline and taps into his natural speed, Duggar could be the everyday center fielder. He’s the organization’s best defensive center fielder and would have been even if Pillar was brought back.

Jaylin Davis is another player the Giants want to take a long look at, although he has just 30 minor league starts in center field. Davis may see time out there in the big leagues, but he’s more likely to benefit from the Pillar decision in a different way. With Yastrzemski set for lots of time in center, Davis — a 25-year-old who hit 35 homers in the minors last year — will have an opportunity to win at-bats in one of the corner spots. The same holds true for Austin Slater and potentially Chris Shaw.

The Wild Card
When Zaidi traded a week of strong Drew Pomeranz relief appearances for Mauricio Dubon, he mentioned that one thing the Giants loved about Dubon was his potential as a super-utility player. On deadline day, Zaidi compared Dubon to Chris Taylor, but another Dodger could be a better fit. Kiké Hernandez mostly started at second base for the Dodgers last year but also made 43 appearances in the outfield, and Dubon is expected to shag plenty of fly balls next spring.

Given where the roster is right now, Dubon is also the starting second baseman and a strong option to split time with Brandon Crawford at shortstop. But if he can handle center field, the Giants would have more of the flexibility they’re seeking. They plan to be active in the infield market this offseason. If they add another middle infielder who hits right-handed, could you see that player at shortstop against left-handers with Donovan Solano at second and Dubon in center?

The Future
When the Giants drafted Heliot Ramos in 2017, some scouts predicted he would move to right field. But the Giants have kept Ramos in center and there’s no indication that he’ll need to be moved next season. There were fears that Ramos would outgrow the position as he hit his early 20s, but he appeared slimmed down in the Arizona Fall League and the Giants will keep him in the middle of the diamond for now.

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Stat line
228 PAs, .330/.360/.456, 4 HR, 23 RBI, 116 wRC+, 1.6 rWAR

Donovan Solano was not supposed to be a name we remembered this time of year. He was one of Farhan Zaidi’s earliest moves, signed to a minor league contract (like so, so many others) the day after his 31st birthday.

14 years after signing with the St. Louis Cardinals as an international free agent, Solano had provided all of 0.9 Wins Above Replacement in his career, per Baseball-Reference. He was supposed to be the minor leaguer that provides a little emergency depth in Sacramento, before being waived prior to ever seeing what Oracle Park looks like.

Well that didn’t happen. Solano was called up in May, and stuck with the team the rest of the year, platooning with Joe Panik, and then playing a utility role. He was the Giants best infielder, which is both a testament to magically flipping some switches and the rest of the Giants infield dramatically disappointing.

But he was good. Good at a time when he had no right to be. Good at a time when few others were.

Role on the 2019 team
Despite being the Giants best infielder, Solano’s role was as a pinch-hitter and backup middle infielder. This is understandable. He’s on the older side (in baseball years), with an invisible track record, and a nearly invisible contract.

It made more sense at second base to see if there was anything left in the Panik tank, and then to give Mauricio Dubon reps, than it did to play a guy with a limited long-term role.

It made more sense at shortstop and third base to play the expensive, long-term contracts of Brandon Crawford and Evan Longoria, respectively, than to find cheaper production elsewhere, when there’s no easy path to shedding the expensive production.

His role was backup infielder extraordinaire, something the Giants haven’t seen much of in recent years.

Solano finished third among Giants position players in rWAR. When your backup infielder who receives fewer than 230 plate appearances finishes third in WAR, then something has either gone terribly wrong or terribly ri…….no, wait, just terribly wrong.


Role on the 2020 team
Solano’s role on the 2020 team will likely be exactly what it was in 2019: Backup middle infielder.

Barring a shocking trade, Brandon Crawford isn’t going anywhere. And the Giants will play him, though if his cold bat continues, it seems quite possible that Crawford will be platooned. Dubon will likely be the everyday second baseman (unless he’s the part-time second baseman and part-time shortstop), meaning there’s no permanent place for Solano, but lots of part-time space for him.

If he replicates his 2019 performance, the Giants will have no choice but to find a way to get his bat into an otherwise dreary lineup.

Expect him to see more than 228 plate appearances next year, though not a ton more. Unless, of course, he’s traded. Or unless, of course, he was a flash in the pan who doesn’t actually break camp with the team.

All of these options are distinctly possible.

How Farhan is Solano?

I’m going for three Farhans, assuming Solano is the player we saw in 2019. That probably shouldn’t be the assumption, but for the sake of this article, I’m pretending it is.

Last year Solano was very valuable, could play at least three positions, and made the league minimum. He was a good clubhouse guy, and happy to start one day, rest two days, and repeat.

Versatility and flexibility is the name of the game with Zaidi. Solano isn’t four Farhans worth of either of those things, but when he’s hitting 20% better than league average, he’s three Farhans worth.

[Editor’s note: Solano is also one of the candidates for Batter of the Year. If you think he’s the best the Giants brought to the plate in 2019, vote for him our poll.]

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SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants stunned much of their fan base Monday when they decided to let go of Kevin Pillar, but the veteran center fielder wasn’t the only notable big leaguer to suddenly find himself a free agent.

Ahead of the deadline to offer contracts to arbitration-eligible players, 56 big leaguers were non-tendered. The list includes top draft picks, All-Stars, and a couple of familiar names. Former Giants Derek Law and Josh Osich were let go and now are on the open market.

Farhan Zaidi has four roster spots open as he heads to the Winter Meetings. That’ll allow him to be active in the Rule 5 Draft if he wants, as well as take a long look at the non-tenders. Here are a few veterans who could make sense for the 2020 roster:

Cesar Hernandez
A switch-hitting second baseman who has experience at other positions, a .352 career on-base percentage, and 29 homers the past two seasons? That’s an intriguing piece even before you consider that Hernandez played for Gabe Kapler the past two seasons.

The Giants brought Donovan Solano back but still could use middle infield depth in case Mauricio Dubon needs more time in the minors. Even if Dubon is the starting second baseman, they could use a left-handed bat to support Dubon, Solano and third baseman Evan Longoria, and Kapler could certainly use a former Phillie or two in the clubhouse to help ease the transition.

Blake Treinen
The former A’s closer might be the most intriguing name on this list. Treinen posted one of the best relief seasons in history in 2018, but his ERA jumped from 0.78 to 4.91 in 2019 as his walk rate more than doubled. Few relievers have better raw stuff than Treinen, and you can bet there will be a strong interest in a pitcher who could be a difference-maker if he finds anything close to his 2018 form. The Giants can offer him a guaranteed shot in the late innings, with a clear path to the closer job if Treinen gets off to a good start.

Kevin Gausman
The fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft, Gausman is the type of pitcher a lot of front offices will look at and wonder, “What if we could get him on track?”

Gausman, a 28-year-old right-hander, had a 5.72 ERA for the Braves and Reds last season but has had stretches of sustained success as a big-league starter. He had a 2.87 ERA in 10 second-half starts for the Braves just a year ago.

Regardless of what Madison Bumgarner decides, the Giants have enough rotation flexibility to take a shot on a player or two like Gausman. If they hit on one, they could have a heck of a trade chip in July. Aaron Sanchez (Astros) and Taijuan Walker (Diamondbacks) are others who fit this mold. Both are super-talented but coming off injuries.

Jason Adam
Most Giants fans have likely never heard of Adam, a 28-year-old who had a 2.91 ERA in 23 relief appearances for the Blue Jays. The right-hander has been in the minors for seven years but has piled up strikeouts the past two. Sam Selman had a somewhat similar background and found success in Triple-A last season before making it to the big leagues for the Giants.

Jimmy Nelson
The 30-year-old right-hander is just two years removed from posting a 3.49 ERA and 3.05 WHIP for the Brewers. Nelson missed all of the 2018 season with a shoulder injury and struggled in scattered appearances when he returned to the mound last season, but Zaidi likes taking chances on guys like this. The Giants claimed Tyler Anderson after an injury-marred 2019 season and might have had him in their 2020 rotation had he agreed to a deal Monday.

Yimi Garcia
Zaidi has brought in a few former Dodgers — Solano was a success story last year — and Garcia also is familiar with Kapler. The right-hander had a 3.61 ERA and 0.86 WHIP last season, striking out more than a batter per inning. He gave up a ton of homers, but what if MLB unjuices the ball?

Domingo Santana
Some Giants people had an interest in Santana when he was in Milwaukee, but he ended up in Seattle, where he posted a .253/.321/.441 slash line with 21 homers last season. The 27-year-old was worth 3.3 WAR in 2017 but has been worth just one Win Above Replacement the rest of his career, in large part because of serious issues with the glove.

Santana played left field and right in Seattle, but he was worth negative-10 Defensive Runs Saved in left and negative-7 in right.

[RELATED: What Giants CF plans are after Pillar non-tender]

The Giants of old would put anyone with a pulse in left field, but that may not be necessary after the 2019 discoveries of Mike Yastrzemski and Alex Dickerson. Still, this club needs right-handed power, and Santana has a career .473 slugging percentage against lefties.

Catcher To Be Named Later
The Giants need to replace Stephen Vogt, and they haven’t seemed all that ready to hand the job to Aramis Garcia. Nobody will be as clean a fit as Vogt, a great clubhouse guy who hit left-handed and could platoon a bit with Buster Posey, but there are a few veterans who became free agents Monday, including Josh Phegley, John Ryan Murphy and Kevin Plawecki.

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The Milwaukee Brewers need starting pitching, and they’ve been clearing money off the books for the past few weeks. Could they look to add San Francisco Giants starter Jeff Samardzija?

Coming into 2019, Jeff Samardzija had two years left on a deal that would pay him $39.6 million through 2020. He also posted a 6.25 ERA in an injury-plagued season, and literally no one was looking to deal for him.

He bounced back in 2019, and he only has one year left on his contract before hitting free agency. Could the Milwaukee Brewers look to add a financially motivated Samardzija for the 2020 season?

How did Samardzija look in 2019?
A lot better than he did in 2018.

Samardzija made 32 starts for the Giants last year, and managed a 3.52 ERA. He tossed 181 1/3 innings, struck out 140, walked 49, and was tagged for 28 homers.

His average velocity on his heater was a career low 91.9 MPH. He made up for the dip in velocity by using his cutter more often and changing speeds. He’s not quite the 95 MPH+ guy he was when he was younger, but he can still eat up innings and keep hitters off balance.

What would it take to deal for Samardzija?
It really depends on how much salary the Giants are willing to eat. If they want to pass the entire salary on the the Brewers, they’d likely get a name on a roster from the Dominican Summer League. If they’re willing to take on money, they could get a fringe top-30 prospect in exchange for Samardzija. Teams aren’t going to fall over themselves to acquire a 35-year old starter with a questionable track record who’s owed almost $19 million next year.

What role would Samardzija play with the Brewers?
He’d likely slot in as a third or fourth starter in front of Eric Lauer and behind whoever they find to fill out the rotation. The team needs an innings eater who can take the ball every fifth day.

Samardzija in a contract year would likely be motivated to get one more bite at the free agent apple before opening a dispensary or a car dealership. A solid year with the Milwaukee Brewers and a playoff run would help his case for some team to give him a multi-year deal after the 2020 season. The two teams are a fit on paper, but a lot has to happen to pull off a deal. However, fans may want to pay special attention to the rumors coming out of San Francisco during the upcoming winter meetings. There’s going to be a lot of smoke around Samardzija while Brewers GM David Stearns and all the other executives are all in the same place at the same time.

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Stat Line
17.2 IP, 8.15 K/9, 1.53 BB/9, 1.02 ERA, 2.08 FIP, 2.87 xFIP, 0.5 fWAR, 0.7 rWAR

Tyler Rogers rules.

I had this whole intro about seeing him for the first time in Sacramento and how he worked his way up to the majors, but that didn’t really cut to the core of things, which is this: Tyler Rogers is the single most fun player to watch on the Giants.

It’s not just that he has that unique delivery, ultra underhand, with his knuckles almost scraping the ground, but it’s so dang effective. In the month of September, Rogers had the second most fWAR of any Giants pitcher, ahead of Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith and everyone not named Tyler Beede (Beede, for the record, pitched 10 more innings than Rogers in September and was worth 0.1 more WAR).

That combination of uniqueness and effectiveness makes him an absolute delight on the mound. Nobody throws like Tyler Rogers. Almost nobody’s as good as Tyler Rogers (among relievers who pitched at least 10 innings this year, he was fourth in the majors in ERA and no, YOUR sample size is small).

And this is all coming on the heels of two straight offseasons where Rogers was available to be selected in the Rule 5 draft, and every team in the majors said, “Nah, we’re good.” Grant had a thing for a while about how the Twins, who literally employ Rogers’s twin brother Taylor Rogers, could have had an actual set of twins on the roster and they chose not to. Is that why they continued their proud tradition of losing to the Yankees in the playoffs? Yes, it definitely is.

The important thing is this: every team could have had Tyler Rogers for a tiny amount of cash. They all declined. The thing the Giants didn’t see in him for years (his delivery and mid-80s fastball playing in the majors) is the same thing the league didn’t see in him for years, and now Rogers is making them all look stupid, including the Giants for not bringing him up in 2017 or 2018, both All-Star seasons for Rogers in AAA.

Somehow, probably due to anti-Giants media bias, Tyler Rogers was completely shut out of Rookie of the Year balloting. This is a travesty, and the only way the nation will ever recover is a long series of Congressional hearings to get to the bottom of it.

Role on the 2019 team
Late season bullpen reinforcement. Even before Reyes Moronta and Tony Watson went down with season-ending injuries, they were having poor Augusts, and with Sam Dyson and Mark Melancon traded (along with Drew Pomeranz), that strong bullpen from the first few months of the year had just about crumbled into dust. Rogers was one of the guys the Giants brought up from Sacramento to try to stop the bleeding, and he was very successful at it. The team was still bad, of course, but at least they had one young guy in the bullpen who was absolutely not the problem.

Role on the 2020 team
There’s a spot in the bullpen that’s his to lose. Rogers has spent years putting up great numbers in the minors, and he just kept on trucking when he hit the majors. It’s certainly possible that he gets optioned after a weak spring, but if you were filling out a preliminary 8-man Giants bullpen for 2020, he’d absolutely be on the list.

How Farhan is Tyler Rogers?

3.5 Farhans. Rogers is cheap, he has options, he was undervalued by both the previous regime and all of baseball — Eligible for the Rule 5 draft twice! Twice! — and he gets there, to put it mildly, unconventionally. Farhan signed Pat Venditte last year because he checked very similar boxes, and while that didn’t work out, it did show that he’s open to pitchers who succeed in unorthodox ways. Rogers certainly does that, and the team can pay him the major league minimum, and they can send him down to Sacramento on a whim if they need a major league roster space for, like, DFA Pickup Number 7 in June.

Boy, isn’t it great to be an extremely Farhan player?

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The Giants lost an All-Star early in free agency when closer Will Smith signed with his hometown Atlanta Braves last week.

Smith’s departure left a clear void in San Francisco’s bullpen, as he tied for fifth in MLB with a career-high 31 saves in 2019. Replacing Smith is a clear priority for Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, but he told The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami on Tuesday that he is in no rush to name a new closer.

“We’ve got some time to figure that out,” Zaidi said on “The TK Show” podcast. “I don’t think we need to decide that before Thanksgiving here, but one of the benefits for us of having made some of the trades we made at the deadline is it gave us the opportunity to see some of the younger relievers in our organization. Guys like Tyler Rogers, Jandel Gustave and Sam Coonrod. [These are guys] that could work their way into the picture and work their way into late-inning [situations] in 2020.”

Rogers, Gustave and Coonrod were bright spots as rookies last season. None of the trio pitched more than 30 innings, but each showed potential pitching out of the bullpen in August and September. Rogers pitched the fewest innings of the three (17 2/3), but was worth nearly a win above replacement in his appearances, according to Baseball Reference’s metrics.

[RELATED: Former Giants hitting coach Powell takes job in Japan]

No matter which of the three emerges, the Giants are going to have a different look in the late innings next season. That could include a free-agent acquisition as well, according to Zaidi.

“Our closer may be in the organization right now,” Zaidi continued. “We’re going to continue to shop around and see what options are out there, but we at least like the depth that we have in our group of relievers.”

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Catchers gear, such as shin guards, a chest protector and a mask, are an important part of the position, but that was not always the case. In fact, it was not until this day in 1907 that shin protectors would be worn, debuted by New York Giants catcher Roger Bresnahan.
The image of a major league catcher is pretty uniform. They are covered in padding and wearing a mask, resembling a hockey goalie more than any other player on the diamond. Considering the plethora of foul tips, balls in the dirt and other assorted nicks and bruises they acquire over the season, it is difficult to imagine someone playing the position without any protection.

However, during the early days of baseball, that was the case. Catchers would be in that familiar position behind the plate, leaving themselves exposed to the vagrancies of those foul tips and wayward pitches. That is, until New York Giants catcher Roger Bresnahan began to protect himself, using the first shin guards on this day in 1907.

Instead of the fancy shin guards that catchers use in modern times, these were nothing more than some modified cricket gear. As strange as it may have seemed at the time, those shin guards proved their use almost immediately, as Bresnahan was protected from a foul tip in the fifth inning due to the protection he had in place.

Naturally, having seen the success and usefulness of these guards, other catchers began wearing them. Suddenly, those foul tips and balls in the dirt were not quite as hazardous as they had been, allowing catchers to remain healthier and be far more productive.

This was also not the only piece of protective equipment that Bresnahan created. After being hit in the head the following year, he created a leather batting helmet, one of the first of its kind. The first catcher in the Baseball Hall of Fame, Bresnahan was a pioneer in regards to player safety and protection.

NEXT: Jackie Robinson signs first major league contract
Catchers may resemble armored tanks these days, but that was not always the case. If not for the foresight of Roger Bresnahan, who knows how long it would have taken for someone to create catcher’s gear as we know it.

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SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — The San Francisco Giants honored the 1989 pennant winners Sunday before the series finale with the Philadelphia Phillies. The big news at the reunion, the Giants announced that they will officially retire Will Clark’s number 22 next season.

Nearly all of the 1989 team members that could have been at the ceremony were in attendance, including Kevin Mitchell, Dusty Baker, Roger Craig, Dave Dravecky and Robby Thompson.

But the highlight became Clark and deservedly so. Plenty of Giants fans have wondered why this didn’t happen sooner.

Clark said he considers this to be his Hall of Fame, and he’s proud to be a “Forever Giant.”

“I came up as a Giant, this is my first organization. This where I learned to play baseball. This is where I learned to be a big leaguer. To be linked with the greatest to ever play the sport here in San Francisco, it’s absolutely amazing,” said Clark.

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The San Francisco Giants won three titles in five years with a homegrown core of Buster Posey, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Pablo Sandoval leading the way.

Their success was not solely a result of in-house talent, though.

How far would they have gotten without guys like Marco Scutaro, Javier Lopez, Jake Peavy and multiple others that were acquired in trade deadline moves?

With that in mind, we set out to identify the 15 greatest deadline deals in San Francisco history.

First, a few parameters:

The 1986 MLB season was our starting point when sifting through trades. The trade deadline was on June 15 rather than July 31 prior to 1986, and it didn’t bring the same flurry of activity, so the deadline deal as we know it today really began in 1986.
Only July non-waiver trades were considered. That means no August waiver deals. This notably excluded the Rick Reuschel trade, which took place on Aug. 21, 1987.
Trades are ranked based on the value obtained in the deal, player production after the trade and postseason success. Since the goal of most deadline deals is to help the team make a postseason push, reaching and succeeding in the playoffs carried significant weight.
Alright, with that out of the way, let’s dive right in!