Giants

Scutaro talks continue; Giants weigh LF options

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Scutaro talks continue; Giants weigh LF options

NASHVILLE -- The Giants replaced Angel Pagan with Angel Pagan, and didn't that work out neatly for all parties?

But they still have to figure a plan for left field, and let's not forget that Canadian defector Melky Cabrera led the major leagues in hits and runs when he was suspended for testosterone on Aug. 15.

As of now, the plan is the same as the day Cabrera got popped: Gregor Blanco.

"He did a great job for us so he'll be a part of this club and could be our left fielder," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "I can't tell you what's going to happen. Right now, he'll get a lot of playing time in left field."

The Giants are looking for a right-handed complement, and they've checked in with the agent for Scott Hairston. But Hairston reportedly has a two-year offer from Detroit.

Regardless, it's a back-burner issue for the Giants until they reach a result with second baseman Marco Scutaro. Despite all predictions that Scutaro would sign before Pagan, the Giants still find themselves without an agreement with the NLCS MVP -- and the Yankees might have entered the picture now that third baseman Alex Rodriguez is out until at least June because of hip surgery.

Asked to characterize the Scutaro negotiations, Giants VP Bobby Evans said he has been discussing "various offers and considerations from the beginning. Any time you've had the year he had, it'll make clubs look long and hard at how he can help you."

Scutaro hit .362 in 61 games after joining the Giants in the trade that sent minor leaguer Charlie Culberson to the Colorado Rockies. Then Scutaro became unconscious while going 14 for 28 and lifting the Giants to a seven-game NLCS comeback series victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Evans said he wouldn't rule out Scutaro, 37, getting a three-year offer on the open market.

"He can play multiple positions and is coming off a great year," Evans said. "The disadvantage is he has a little more age on him."

Evans acknowledged there is a much smaller pool of backup options at second base than there was in center field, if they had been unable to re-sign Pagan. (His four-year, 40 million contract is pending a physical.) Internally, Nick Noonan is the closest second baseman to the big leagues but is seen as more of a utility presence. The best infield prospect in the system, Joe Panik, is another year away.

The Giants have not discussed moving first baseman Brandon Belt to left field or anywhere else, Evans said.

If the Giants are unable to re-sign Scutaro, they might be able to divert some of those funds to the outfield. But they already spent more than they had planned to bring back Pagan, even crossing the bridge of offering a fourth year to a player who has exceeded 123 games in a season just twice in his career.

Evans acknowledged that B.J. Upton's five-year pact with the Atlanta Braves might have reshaped the market for Pagan. The Giants are banking that Pagan's athleticism will allow him to age well.

"You have to respond to the market at some level or be prepared to settle for a secondary option," said Evans, who might have been forced to overpay for Shane Victorino if the club didn't strike a deal with Pagan.

The last time the Giants overpaid for a former Philies outfielder in Nashville, they took home Aaron Rowand for five years and 60 million.

So Bochy was ecstatic to have Pagan back for 2013.

"It's a huge advantage," Bochy said. "You take away a lot of the unknown factors of a player playing in our ballpark. He had a great time here, I know the fans love Angel and there's chemistry with his teammates. He's a big fit for us.

"That's a pretty big need when you need a center fielder and a leadoff hitter, and we took care of both."

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."