Giants

Giants pick up 2014 options, plan to further extend Bochy, Sabean

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Giants pick up 2014 options, plan to further extend Bochy, Sabean

NASHVILLE – In a decision plucked straight out of what Giants CEO Larry Baer called “no-brainer land,” the club formally exercised its 2014 contract options on manager Bruce Bochy and GM Brian Sabean.

Baer acknowledged the move was made official a week ago, and added that the parties absolutely would engage in talks about an extension “for 2015 and beyond” some time during the coming year.

“I'm thrilled," Bochy said. "This is what I love to do, and I couldn't be in a better place. With Brian giving me the tools to do what we’ve done these last three years, this appetite only grows.”

Baer called the coach/general manager relationship “the most key in sports – any sport. And so we are very fortunate in that regard.”

“One of the hallmarks of the Giants and a chief reason for their success is their stability together and the working relationship they have,” Baer said. “It’s hand-in-glove connectivity in making decisions and results, I think, speak for themselves.”

Two World Series titles in three seasons tends to do that.

Sabean, who was named Baseball America’s Executive of the Year on Tuesday, is entering his 17th season as the Giants’ head of baseball operations – the longest tenured GM in the major leagues with one club. It’s a high-pressure position that typically has a short half-life and leads to chronic burnout. But Baer said he sees the same fire and hunger in the silver-haired 56-year-old former Yankees scouting director as he did nearly two decades ago.

“He’s surrounded himself with the right people,” Baer said of Sabean, who replaced Bob Quinn after the 1996 season. “Our scouts are really good and we’ve built a homegrown pitching staff with the exception of Barry Zito, which is really hard to do. That doesn’t happen by accident.

“He’s got a solid information base and he commands loyalty from his group. As I’ve become more involved, it’s been gratifying to see how smooth functioning it is.”

Said Bochy: “Brian, I think, is the best GM in the game. He’s passionate about the game, he’s fiery and he cares about the players. He cares about the fans and about winning.

“He’s not just my boss. He’s a good friend and we spend a lot of time together talking about the team and the ways we can win.”

Sabean has heaped just as much praise on Bochy, calling him a shoo-in Hall of Fame manager following the Giants’ sweep over the Detroit Tigers in the World Series. Both Baer and Sabean have called the hiring of Bochy following the 2006 season as perhaps the organization’s best decision in the last two decades.

“He’s just so good and so easy to work with,” Baer said. “You respect the thought process and the way the wheels move, which isn’t something you necessarily see when you meet him. That’s because he’s low on ego and high on aptitude. That’s not a combination you get very often, especially in sports.”

Add desire.

Bochy, 57, is entering his seventh season with the Giants and his 19th as a major league manager. Now one of the game’s elder statesmen on the bench, he said he hopes to continue managing for a long time – especially if he is able to continue to work with Sabean.

Sabean is not at baseball’s winter meetings at the Opryland Resort because of a sinus issue; his doctor advised him to stay home. He continues to do business by phone and text, though, and sent a message of gratitude when informed of the Baseball America award.

Bochy has won six NL West titles in his 18 seasons. The Giants have made the playoffs in seven of Sabean’s 17 seasons as GM, winning three NL pennants and two confetti-strewn trips down Market Street.

With new posting system reportedly agreed to, Giants can soon chase Ohtani

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AP

With new posting system reportedly agreed to, Giants can soon chase Ohtani

SAN FRANCISCO -- As the Giants continue to wait for a resolution to the Giancarlo Stanton chase, they may soon find themselves bidding on another superstar talent they have long coveted. 

According to multiple reports, Major League Baseball, the Players Association, and the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization agreed to a new posting system that should allow Shohei Ohtani to be made available in about 10 days. Joel Sherman of the NY Post reported that MLB owners must ratify the agreement next Friday and Ohtani would then be posted that day or the following day. 

The Giants have made no secret of their desire to jump feet-first into that process, and general manager Bobby Evans and assistant GM Jeremy Shelley visited Japan in September to scout Ohtani, a potential two-way star. Ohtani wants to be a starter and a hitter in the big leagues, as he was in Japan, and after watching tape of the 23-year-old, Bruce Bochy said he would be on board. 

"He's good," Bochy said after a game at Dodger Stadium late in the season. "I absolutely would play him every day."

There has been little clarity over the past two months as MLB teams have waited for the negotiations to play out. Per Sherman, there will be new posting rules in future years but Ohtani will operate under the old system. That limits the Giants to a $300,000 bonus because they went over their spending limit in 2015, but club officials don't believe that will disqualify them. Very little is known about Ohtani's preferences, but by coming to the United States in 2017, he is potentially forfeiting a $200 million deal as a free agent. That alone is enough to validate the fact that the Giants can safely chase Ohtani, knowing that the signing bonus won't be a deal breaker.

MLB crushes Braves with sanctions for international signing infractions

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AP

MLB crushes Braves with sanctions for international signing infractions

ATLANTA -- The Braves lost 13 prospects and former general manager John Coppolella was banned for life by Major League Baseball on Tuesday for circumventing international signing rules from 2015-17.

Former Atlanta special assistant Gordon Blakeley, who was the team's international scouting chief, was suspended from baseball for one year by Commissioner Rob Manfred.

Sanctions imposed by Manfred will leave the Braves unable to bargain at full strength for a top Latin American prospect until 2021.

Manfred said MLB's investigation determined the Braves moved international signing bonus pool money from one player to boost another player's contract.

Most notable among the players the Braves will lose is Kevin Maitan, an infielder from Venezuela who signed for $4.25 million in 2016.

Other "high-value" players the Braves will lose include Juan Contreras, Yefri del Rosario, Abrahan Gutierrez, Juan Carlos Negret, Yenci Pena, Yunior Severino, Livan Soto and Guillermo Zuniga.

Three more international signees - Brandol Mezquita, Angel Rojas and Antonio Sucre - were declared free agents. The team's contract with prospect Ji-Hwan Bae, which was not yet final, was disapproved. Finally, the Braves were banned from signing prospect Robert Puason in the 2019-20 signing period.

The 13 players will be free to negotiate as free agents with other teams.

Also, the Braves will forfeit their third-round selection in the 2018 draft as punishment for offering "impermissible benefits" to an unnamed draft pick in an effort to convince him to sign for a lower bonus.

The investigation showed the players signed by the Braves in 2016-17 would have been unavailable if the team had not circumvented the rules by moving bonus pool money.

Manfred said stripping the Braves of the 13 players was not sufficient punishment. He said "additional sanctions are warranted to penalize the club for the violations committed by its employees."

Therefore, the Braves will be prohibited from signing any international player for more than $10,000 during the 2019-20 signing period. Also, the team's international signing bonus pool for the 2020-21 signing period will be reduced by 50 percent.

The Braves already cannot give an international signing bonus of more than $300,000 for 2017-18 and 2018-19 as penalties for exceeding their signing bonus pools under baseball's previous labor contract.

And there is still more discipline to be handed down.

Manfred said he intends "to discipline other Braves international baseball operations employees who participated in the misconduct."

Coppolella was forced to resign after the season. Former team president John Hart was moved to a senior adviser role when a new general manager, Alex Anthopoulos, was hired on Nov. 13. Hart left the team on Friday.

"The senior baseball operations officials responsible for the misconduct are no longer employed by the Braves," Manfred said. He also said the Braves "cooperated throughout the investigation."

Coppolella did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

The Braves braced fans for the sanctions when team chairman Terry McGuirk apologized to fans "on behalf of the entire Braves family" for the rules violations at the news conference to introduce Anthopoulos.

The Braves said in a statement released Tuesday they "understand and accept the decision regarding the penalties that have been handed down.

"As we expressed last week, our organization has not lived up to the standard our fans expect from us and that we expect from ourselves. For that, we apologize. We are instituting the changes necessary to prevent this from ever happening again and remain excited about the future of Braves baseball."

Manfred said he is confident the Braves management team led by McGuirk, Anthopoulos and vice chairman John Schuerholz "have and will put in place procedures to ensure that this type of conduct never occurs again and which will allow the club to emerge from this difficult period as the strong and respected franchise that it has always been."

The Braves are not the first team to be found guilty of violating rules in signing international players.

In 2016, the Boston Red Sox lost five players and were banned from signing international amateur free agents for one year as punishment for rules violations on signing bonuses.