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.

Projection system loves Giancarlo Stanton at AT&T Park

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AP

Projection system loves Giancarlo Stanton at AT&T Park

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants have made a habit in recent winters of “kicking the tires,” so to speak, on as many free agents as possible. General manager Bobby Evans is committed to being thorough, but at times there is probably no need. 

Hitters have made no secret of the fact that they prefer friendlier confines, and if you’re a power hitter, you’re going to ask Evans for a significantly larger check to play 81 of your games at the harshest power park in the majors. That’s what makes Giancarlo Stanton, readily available via trade, so intriguing. But would Stanton be fully immune to the realities of AT&T Park?

The numbers, at least in a small sample, suggest he would. Stanton has played 27 games in San Francisco and taken 108 at-bats. He has nine homers, 11 doubles and a triple. His .676 slugging percentage at AT&T Park isn’t far off his mark at Coors Field (.714), and his 1.048 OPS is higher than his OPS during the 2017 season, when he hit 59 homers. 

The damage has been done in limited time, but the Giants clearly believe it’s fully sustainable, and a recent study done by ESPN’s Dan Szymborski backs that up. Szymborski ran his ZiPS projection system to estimate Stanton’s stats over the next 10 years for a variety of suitors. The numbers in orange and black are overwhelming. 

The projections have Stanton at 46.2 WAR over the next 10 seasons, including 7.1 in 2018 and 6.8 in 2019, the two seasons the organization should be focused on given Madison Bumgarner’s contract situation. ZiPS projects Stanton at 46 homers next season if he plays for the Giants, followed by 43, 42, 39, 35 over the following four years. For comparison’s sake, Brandon Belt led the Giants in homers each of the last two seasons and he has 35 total during that span. 

Any sort of projection system needs to be taken with a huge grain of salt, especially with a player who has had injury issues in the past. But ZiPS believes Stanton -- who plays in a huge park already -- is a rarity, the kind of power hitter who can keep crushing well into his 30’s and put up huge numbers even if he is limited by the realities of getting older and getting hurt. Szymborski’s projections have Stanton playing just 102 games in 2025, but he’s still projected to hit 23 homers, 20 doubles and post an OPS+ of 121. Even in the 10th year of the projections, ZiPS has Stanton down for 16 homers. 

There are no sure things in this game, but as Evans continues to chase a blockbuster deal, he can be confident that Stanton is one player who should be able to provide power for years to come, no matter what AT&T Park does to hold hitters down. 

Former A's slugger Gomes offers Ohtani scouting report: 'Big fan of the dude'

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AP

Former A's slugger Gomes offers Ohtani scouting report: 'Big fan of the dude'

Former A's left fielder/DH and Bay Area native, Jonny Gomes, last played Major League Baseball in 2015. The next year, Gomes looked to continue his career in Japan with the Rakuten Golden Eagles. 

Gomes struggled in Japan, batting just .169 in 18 games. While in Japan though, Gomes saw firsthand the two-way talent of Shohei Ohtani. 

"The dude throws 100 miles per hour consistently," Gomes said Tuesday to MLB Network Radio. "That plays."

With MLB, the Players Association, and the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization agreeing to a new posting system, Ohtani should soon be available as a free agent to MLB teams. Gomes was adamant that Ohtani will live up to the hype. 

"If you have the arm speed to throw 100 miles per hour, guess what your slider's gonna do -- yikes. And he also has a split, which is yikes with that arm speed. And he also has a changeup, and he also has a curveball. You're talking about five plus, plus, plus pitches.

"If he was in the draft, I think it would be a no-brainer right now that he'd be No. 1 overall," Gomes said. 

Since turning pro as an 18-year-old, Ohtani has been a dominant force on the mound. The 6-foot-3 right-hander owns a 42-15 career record with a 2.52 ERA and 1.076 WHIP. 

What makes Ohtani, 23, so intriguing is that he's not only the best pitcher in Japan, he may be the best hitter too. In 2017, Ohtani hit .332 with eight home runs in 65 games. The left fielder/DH owns a .286/.358/.500 career slash line with 48 home runs. 

"Now hitting wise, is it gonna transfer, is it not? I've seen the dude hit a fly ball that hit the roof of the Tokyo Dome," Gomes remembers. "So, what does that tell you? That bat speed's there, that power's there, that he's generating a lot out front.

"To be able to hit the roof of the Tokyo Dome is way more impressive than hitting any other roof in the states. It would be like hitting the roof in Seattle when it was closed, it's way up there."

Everyone knows about Ohtani off-the-charts talent. The stats are there. What we don't know as much about is his personality. Gomes does and he believes his leadership will make him be a star in the states. 

"I'm a big fan of the dude," Gomes says. "I saw his work ethic, I saw how players treated him, I saw how respectful he was. Over there it's all about seniority. Granted he was the biggest star on the field at any given moment, but still gave the utmost respect to seniority guys on his ball club."