Giants

Could Brian Wilson end up with the Dodgers?

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Could Brian Wilson end up with the Dodgers?

SAN FRANCISCO Brian Wilson is a contrarian with a tastefor shock value. But you knew that already.

So it really shouldnt surprise anyone if hes thought aboutwearing a Los Angeles Dodgers uniform.

That thought is more than a passing whim, so hears Tim Brownof Yahoo! Sports. Reportedly, Wilsons preference, after returning to theGiants, would be to sign with their archrivals.

Wilson lives in the Los Angeles area in the offseason, whichmakes Chavez Ravine an attractive destination. Hes more an L.A. guy anyway.And as a pitchman, he certainly understands the importance of market size.

But could Wilson really be a vision in Blue and White on Opening Day?

Well, first hed have to become a free agent -- and that isvery likely to happen on Friday.

RELATED: Giants, Wilson 'not exactly seeing eye to eye'

As of now, Wilson remains under Giants control, in his finalyear of arbitration eligibility. But he would be free to negotiate with anyclub if the Giants do not tender him a contract by Fridays 9 p.m. (PST)deadline.

For most players with less than six years of service time,this is a paper deadline. But teams often choose to cut loose somearbitration-eligible players, knowing their salaries will exceed theirprojected value. Also, under terms of the collective bargaining agreement,teams cannot cut a players salary by more than 20 percent from the previousseason.

Wilson made 8.5 million this past season, when he pitchedin just two games before undergoing Tommy John surgery to reconstruct his rightelbow ligament. So through arbitration, he couldnt make less than 6.8 millionguaranteed in 2013.

There is absolutely no way the Giants will pledge that kindof guaranteed money to a player coming off his second Tommy John surgery, and who,by most rehab schedules, should not be ready to pitch on opening day. (Wilsonhas pledged to be fully operational, though.) Additionally, players coming offan elbow ligament repair usually need another 12 months of competitionfollowing 12 months of rehab before they begin to get full extension allowingthem to find that familiar late life on their pitches. So most relievers inWilsons shoes would be wobbling on the beam through 2013.

With the Giants payroll expected to make only modestmovement above the 130 million they spent in 2012, every dollar the Giants giveto Wilson is one they cannot spend elsewhere.

Make no mistake, the Giants want Wilson back just notthrough arbitration. So bank on this: if he hasnt agreed to terms with theGiants by Friday, hell become a free agent.

What kind of contract suits the Giants at this stage? Well, TheLos Angeles Angels provided a perfect template when they finalized their dealwith right-hander Ryan Madson, who required Tommy John surgery last spring andnever got off the ground as the Reds closer. Madson received a 3.5 millionguarantee with another 3.5 million in incentives (based on days spent on theactive roster and games finished).

Wilson has every right to feel like he deserves more of aguarantee, though. Amid his usual, cryptic comments, hes mentioned sacrificinghis elbow by extending himself down the stretch to help the Giants win theWorld Series in 2010.

Of course, correlation is not causation. And not everyone inthe Giants front office will agree with Wilsons claim. So this is a touchynegotiation, indeed.

The bottom line is this: Will another team on the openmarket guarantee Wilson more money than the Giants?

From a baseball standpoint, the answer is probably not.But from a marketing standpoint, the angles get interesting.

How much would it be worth to the Dodgers to see Wilsonwearing their uniform? More than 5 million? Id have to think so. This is afranchise that is throwing around money like its got a counterfeitingoperation humming in the basement. The Dodgers might pay that much just to seethe look on the Giants faces when Wilson pitches against them for the firsttime.

So this could turn out to be more than just a bluff on Wilson's part. Either way, it's got to make CEO Larry Baer feel a bit queasy.

Having covered this game for a long time, I can tell youthat baseball moves almost never work out when theyre made for marketingreasons. (Although every once in awhile, a Barry Zito will surprise you in Year6 of a millstone contract.)

Will the Giants view Wilson through baseball terms ormarketing terms? That, more than anything, will determine whether hes backwith the team next season.

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The Giants remain in touch with the agents for Marco Scutaroand Angel Pagan, and it remains likely that Scutaro will re-sign for two yearsor perhaps two with an option. He has been a free agent before and knows all thesteps in this dance

Pagan is a 30-year-old free agent for the first time, and heknows this is his one shot at a massive money grab. Hes staying patient andletting the outfield market shape itself.

It began to coalesce Wednesday, with B.J. Upton showing themost first-step quickness among free-agent center fielders. He reportedly agreedto a five-year contract with the Atlanta Braves that will guarantee him atleast 70 million.

Upton was considered the second best free-agent centerfielder on the market, behind Michael Bourn. The Braves obviously preferredUpton on their terms over whatever Bourn is demanding, especially since theyllhave to sacrifice a first-round draft pick to Tampa Bay as compensation.

This is good and bad for the Giants. On one hand, the Braveswere interested in Pagan. So one of his bigger suitors has a full shoppingcart. (Although they still want a left fielder who could hit leadoff.) On the other hand, Upton got a fifth year. If he had signed a four-yeardeal, maybe Pagans market gets capped at three.

Just my gut: I think the Giants would be willing to givePagan three years but not four.

So the wait continues.

Just remember: If the Giants fail to re-sign Pagan, theyllneed to find both a leadoff hitter and an outfielder. Shane Victorino is outthere, and so is Ichiro Suzuki. But neither of them are so terrific in theon-base percentage department.

As for top outfield prospect Gary Brown, he likely wont beready anytime soon. He still has to make some big adjustments to competeagainst higher level pitching following a tough year at Double-A Richmond.

Report: Tim Lincecum throws 90-93 MPH at showcase

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AP

Report: Tim Lincecum throws 90-93 MPH at showcase

Tim Lincecum was back on a mound Thursday, trying to prove to teams once again that he still has a little bit of magic left in his right arm. 

The former Giants star held a bullpen session for scouts Thursday in Seattle. The event was closed to the media, but Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that between 25 and 30 scouts were in attendance. 

And Lincecum may have some of his velocity back. According to Heyman, Lincecum was sitting between 90 and 93 miles per hour. 

Lincecum last pitched in 2016 with the Angels. In that season, his fastball averaged just 88.4 miles per hour. In nine starts with the Angels, Lincecum was nowhere near what he once was and went 2-6 with a 9.16 ERA. 

The Giants planned to be at Lincecum's showcase, according to Insider Alex Pavlovic. 

Over nine seasons with the Giants, Lincecum posted a 108-83 record and a 3.61 ERA. He won back-to-back National Cy Young awards in 2008 and 2009, was a four-time All-Star and led the league in strikeouts three times. 

Slater fighting for outfield job after Giants' offseason overhaul

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USATSI

Slater fighting for outfield job after Giants' offseason overhaul

SCOTTSDALE — Catchers are usually the only position players to hit on the main field during the first few days of spring training, but Austin Slater snuck into a group Thursday to take a few cuts. With manager Bruce Bochy leaning against the back of the cage, perhaps Slater’s session will serve as a reminder: I’m still here, don’t forget about me.

The 25-year-old broke through last summer before injuries halted his progress. As Slater focused on getting healthy this offseason, Bobby Evans focused on overhauling the outfield. That has left several familiar faces in precarious spots, and Slater finds himself fighting for a fifth outfielder job a year after batting .282 in his first 117 big league at-bats. 

At the same time, he’s trying to balance competition with health. He wants to push for an Opening Day job, but also is very aware that he needs to back it down at times as he recovers from sports hernia surgery.

“You want to prove that you can play here and win a job, but (the staff) stressed health over everything,” he said. “It does no good to push and then start the season on the DL. For me, health is the most important thing. I feel like if I’m healthy I can prove myself. There’s nothing I can prove on the DL.”

Slater originally tore his groin on July 8 and the Giants thought it would prove to be a season-ending injury. He worked his way back ahead of schedule, though, seeing limited action before sports hernia surgery the last week of September. “They went in there and cleaned up the groin,” he said, smiling where others might grimace. The procedure kept Slater from playing in the Dominican Republic as planned, although that might have been a blessing in disguise. 

The Giants were aggressive with their winter ball plans because so many young players got hurt during the season. But Jarrett Parker lasted just 24 hours before being sent home with a health issue. Christian Arroyo’s hand swelled up soon after he arrived, and he headed home. Ryder Jones immediately got food poisoning and lost 12 pounds in just over three weeks before player and team decided a mutual parting would be beneficial. 

Slater stayed home throughout, living in the Bay Area and rehabbing. The Giants told him to focus on his rehab instead of lost at-bats and then come out and try to win a job in Scottsdale. By mid-November, he was hitting again. By Thanksgiving, he was on a regular lifting and running schedule. In late January, he felt like his old self again. 

For the Giants, that means a versatile option in a new-look outfield. Slater had a .290/.343/.430 slash line going before his first injury and he’s working to tap into more power. As Bruce Bochy pointed out Thursday, Slater has a long history of putting up numbers at every level. 

“He really did a nice job of figuring out what it takes to play in the major leagues, and he has a tendency throughout his career to just get better,” Bochy said. “You have to love his right-handed bat. He’s got some pop. I think he can play all three outfield positions, so he’s in the mix.”

The Giants have Andrew McCutchen in right and Hunter Pence in left and Austin Jackson as the third guy, and Bochy’s preference is to have a true center fielder as his fourth outfielder. That leaves Slater fighting for the fifth job, alongside many others. No matter what he did last year or does this spring, Slater has options remaining, and that will come into play. A year after using 13 different players in left field, the staff is intent on having greater depth at the Triple-A level. 

Slater is a Stanford product who spent the offseason surrounded by Giants fans. He knows the math after the offseason moves.

“It doesn’t change anything,” he said. “It just adds some great guys to learn from, and there are still outfield spots to be won, so it’s not discouraging, it’s encouraging. I didn’t expect them to keep an open roster spot for a guy with 120 at-bats. We’re trying to win a championship here.”