Giants

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. 

Healthy Melancon and Smith expected to bolster Giants' bullpen

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AP

Healthy Melancon and Smith expected to bolster Giants' bullpen

ORLANDO — There were few positive sights down the stretch last season for the Giants, but Will Smith occasionally gave the coaching staff a reason to smile. The left-hander’s rehab from Tommy John surgery in late March went so smoothly that he was able to play aggressive games of catch at AT&T Park before going home for the winter. 

The Giants believe Smith will be ready for opening day, barring a setback in spring training, and he should be fully back to his old self by the All-Star break, allowing Bruce Bochy to use him multiple days in a row or for multiple innings. They are even more confident that closer Mark Melancon, who had a minor procedure on his pitching arm, will be ready when pitchers and catchers report to Scottsdale the second week of February. 

In an offseason when there are more holes to fill than answers, those developments could prove crucial. The confidence in Smith and Melancon has allowed general manager Bobby Evans to focus on the lineup here at the Swan and Dolphin Resort. 

“We’re still looking at the bullpen as an area we would like to strengthen, but we don’t necessarily have that as our focal point at this stage of the offseason,” Evans said. 

The bullpen has been an issue for two years, but the Giants feel it will be much better in 2018. Melancon will serve as closer, with Sam Dyson — a 2017 surprise — and Smith giving Bochy two veterans in the eighth inning. If all three find their normal form, it's a reliable trio. The manager would love another lefty addition, but if nothing of significance is done, the Giants are confident that Ty Blach can be a weapon as a reliever. Hunter Strickland comes up in trade rumors but is likely to be back, and Cory Gearrin was tendered a contract last month after a solid season. Kyle Crick showed flashes of dominance as a rookie and there’s still hope that Derek Law — once the future closer — will again become a force. 

Once the dust settles and relievers start signing shorter-term deals, the Giants expect to add to the mix, but they also could get help from a couple of unlikely areas. They expect to use their second pick in the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday and they have primarily been focused on hard-throwing relievers who were left off 40-man rosters elsewhere. Any player chosen would have to spend the year on the active roster to remain a Giant, but that’s easier to do in the bullpen, and other teams have pulled it off in recent years.

Another 2018 option could be top pitching prospect Tyler Beede. Evans said he could break in as a reliever, although the preference remains giving him a shot to win a rotation spot. That could happen as early as the spring. 

“Our discussions internally see him as very close to being ready,” Evans said.

Report: New Angels star Shohei Ohtani has damaged UCL

Report: New Angels star Shohei Ohtani has damaged UCL

Depending on how you look at it, the Giants may have dodged a bullet.

Two-way Japanese star Shohei Ohtani, who signed with the Angels last week, reportedly underwent platelet-rich plasma treatment for a damaged ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow.

According to a physical report obtained by Yahoo Sports, Ohtani has a first-degree sprain of his right UCL. Ohtani underwent the procedure on Oct. 20 in Tokyo, according to the report. Teams were made aware of the treatment when Ohtani was entered into the MLB posting system on Dec. 1.

The Giants were one of seven finalists for the pitcher and slugger along with the Angels, Mariners, Rangers, Padres, Cubs and Dodgers.

Ohtani should be able to pitch through the first-degree sprain, but any further damage would likely require season-ending Tommy John surgery.