Giancarlo Stanton-to-Giants rumor is fun...until you look at his contract

Giancarlo Stanton-to-Giants rumor is fun...until you look at his contract

SAN DIEGO — This is the time of year where front office officials respond to many trade inquiries from reporters with some variation of, “Well, yeah.”

Would the Giants like to insert Giancarlo Stanton into the middle of their lineup? Well, yeah. Of course they would. He makes their ballpark look small, he’s in the prime of his career, and he would fill a gaping need in the lineup and the outfield. 

The Giants would be foolish not to check in with the Marlins, and to do so repeatedly, and according to Craig Mish, a reporter in South Florida, the Giants have checked in, along with other teams. Mish tweeted that Stanton is believed to be willing to waive his no-trade clause if the Marlins commit to a rebuild. 

This is where we bring you a big splash of cold water but also the smallest dash of hope. 

The cold water first. Stanton has barely even begun playing out a preposterous deal. Overall, it’s 13 years and $325 million, the largest ever financial guarantee for an MLB player. Stanton still has 10 guaranteed years left, at $285 million (AGAIN, $285 MILLION) with a club option for 2028 that includes a $10 million buyout. 

So, he’s owed $295 million (AGAIN, $295 MILLION), and while some in the Giants organization have heard that the Marlins would swallow a big chunk of that, it would still be a hefty, hefty price tag. If the Giants take on, say, $200 million, that probably keeps them from signing Madison Bumgarner to a super-contract of his own one day. It locks them into the luxury tax going forward, and team officials have for months talked about a desire to dip under that number sometime in the next couple of years and reset their penalties. 

There are on-field concerns, too. For all the wondrous power he has shown, Stanton has played more than 119 games just once since 2012. The Giants have watched their own expensive outfielders get old in front of their eyes, and in a few years Stanton will be a 34-year-old making $32 million a year. Nobody but Aaron Judge is in Stanton’s class power-wise, but the Giants have seen how it has gone quickly with Hunter Pence, who was once one of the more powerful players in the game. 

Alright, now the dash of hope. A small one. Given the contract -- no matter what it ends up being -- there are maybe four or five teams in the game that could even consider dealing for Stanton. The Yankees and Red Sox always can, along with the Cubs and of course the Dodgers. Maybe the Cardinals or Angels? The Giants wouldn’t have much competition, and if the new Marlins ownership wants a pure salary dump, they won’t find many partners better than the Giants. They likely wouldn’t have to give up much except a commitment to pay Stanton, and here’s where the hope comes in: The Giants are rich. They sell out every night (officially) and their value continues to increase. If they wanted to make a splash, they technically could. 

So there’s your dash of hope. The Giants have money. They technically can pay Stanton if he becomes available. Will they? No, there’s been no indication they ever will. It’s a fun rumor, but the trade itself would destroy the team’s budget now and for years going forward and basically put an entire rebuild on the shoulders of one player who has had trouble staying healthy. This is where it's worth mentioning that the Cot's Baseball description of Stanton's deal compares it to Josh Hamilton's and Ryan Howard's. How did those contracts work out?  

Fun rumor, though.

Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

PEORIA — Jeff Samardzija spent a couple minutes after Thursday’s start talking to reporters about how deep he thinks the Giants lineup can be. It’ll be a hell of a lot deeper if Hunter Pence keeps hitting like this. 

After a slow start to the spring, Pence is charging. He had three hits against the Padres: a triple that bounced off the top of the wall in right-center, a hard single up the middle, and a double to center. The more encouraging plays for the Giants happened in left field. Pence chased down a drive to the line in the third inning, leaving the bases loaded. He opened the fourth by going the other direction and gloving a fly ball to left-center. 

"A good game for Hunter, both ways," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's getting more comfortable out there. You can see it with the jumps he's getting right now. It takes a little while when you change positions, but I think he's going to be fine out there."

The Giants appear set to have Austin Jackson and Pence atop the lineup against left-handed starters, and that duo could see plenty of time early. Seven of the first nine games are against the Dodgers, who have four lefty starters. 

--- Evan Longoria had a double off the right-center wall on Wednesday after missing a week with a sore ankle. He had a single the same way in his second at-bat Thursday. More than the at-bats, Longoria has impressed with his soft hands and steady arm at third. The ankle looks fine, too. 

“My ankle feels pretty good,” Longoria said. “I don’t think it’s going to be an issue going forward.”

--- It’s been a quiet spring for Andrew McCutchen, but we saw the wheels tonight. McCutchen easily stole second after a two-run single in the fifth. When Evan Longoria bounced one to the left side, shortstop Freddy Galvis tried to go to third for the lead out, but McCutchen beat that throw, too. He got up and put his hands on his hips, as if to say, "Why'd you even try that?"

--- Samardzija allowed three homers in a six-batter span in the third. He allowed three homers in an inning in his previous start, too, but he said he’s not concerned. Samardzija deemed it a sequencing issue. He’s working in a new changeup and threw it in situations he normally wouldn’t; Eric Hosmer took advantage of a floating one, crushing it to deep, deep right for the third homer. 

--- With a runner on, Brandon Belt put down a perfect bunt to foil the shift. Belt does that every spring, particularly against NL West teams, but rarely during the regular season. Maybe this will be the year?

Belt later crushed a homer to deep right. That had to feel good for a number of reasons. Belt is fighting a cold and he learned earlier in the day that his college coach, Augie Garrido, had passed away.

Josh Osich goes back to his roots looking to unleash all the potential


Josh Osich goes back to his roots looking to unleash all the potential

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For most pitchers, spring training is a time to experiment and add a pitch or two. Josh Osich is using this month to go the other direction. 

Osich spent the offseason watching film of his 2015 season, when he looked like he might one day be the closer in San Francisco, and decided that he needed to get back to his roots. That means the curveball, which he tried so hard to mix in last year, is now far back in the cupboard. The four-seam and two-seam fastballs are once again the focus, with an emphasis on changing eye levels more than he did a year ago. The changeup and cutter will round out his arsenal for the most part. 

Osich’s raw stuff is still as good as just about any lefty reliever in the league, and he hopes to take advantage of that while putting a rough 2017 season in his rearview mirror. He had a 6.23 ERA last season and 1.73 WHIP.

“It’s just one of those learning years,” Osich said. “I tried to live at the bottom of the zone and I was, but I was actually below the zone. So then I would fall behind and need to throw a strike and that’s when guys would hit me.”

Osich, 29, had a 2.20 ERA and 1.12 WHIP during that 2015 season that he keeps going back to. He walked eight batters in 28 2/3 innings, a far cry from the 27 he walked in 43 1/3 last year. While watching the 2015 version of himself, Osich saw that his hands were higher, and that’s something he’s working to replicate. He’s also trying to slow his pace to the plate. So far, the results are nothing but encouraging. Osich allowed one hit and struck out one in a 2 1/3 inning appearance on Wednesday night. Manager Bruce Bochy let him extend himself to keep the good vibes going. 

In six appearances this spring, Osich has allowed just four hits over seven scoreless innings. He has seven strikeouts and one walk. 

“O, it just seems like he’s got confidence,” Bochy said. “He’s kept it simple, he’s not tinkering with different pitches. He’s throwing more strikes, and more than anything he’s just trying to pound the strike zone now with quality strikes. That’s all he has to do. You look at him and he’s hitting 95 with a couple of good off-speed pitches. That works here.”