Giants

Would Andrew McCutchen be a fit for Giants?

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USATSI

Would Andrew McCutchen be a fit for Giants?

SAN FRANCISCO — You can disagree with some of the moves — or many of them — the Giants have made over the past couple of years while sinking to 98 losses, but give them credit for one thing: They certainly don’t shy away from big names. 

With the Giancarlo Stanton sweepstakes dragging on, the Giants are now for the first time connected to Andrew McCutchen. He has always had fans in the organization, for good reason, and on Wednesday morning Jon Morosi of MLB Network reported that the Giants have been in contact with the Pirates and he could be a target if Stanton goes elsewhere. 

On the surface, McCutchen would be a blockbuster acquisition. He’s a former MVP and finished in the top five of the voting for four consecutive seasons. He is Pittsburgh’s Buster Posey, and who wouldn’t want that? 

But does the 31-year-old actually make sense as Plan B? Here’s a closer look: 

Why He Fits: After a downturn in 2016, McCutchen’s offensive numbers rebounded in 2017. He posted a .363 on-base percentage, 28 homers, 88 RBI and an OPS+ of 121. By any metric, he would be the best hitting outfielder on the roster, and he could give Posey a sidekick and provide the offense with the right-handed pop that is so sorely needed.

At 31, McCutchen should still have plenty left, and he would be in a contract year. That’s another reason why this is a good fit. With some creative accounting and perhaps another trade, the Giants could absorb all or most of McCutchen’s $14.75 million and stay under or right at the tax, and he wouldn't add to their financial issues going forward. After a couple years of trade rumors, he doesn’t figure to be too expensive in terms of prospects, either.

If you’re just talking about his offensive profile and his contract, McCutchen — also known as a good clubhouse guy — is the perfect fit for an aging team trying to take one last shot at the postseason. 

Why He Doesn’t Fit: Of course, defense matters. It matters a lot to the Giants in particular after the way 2017 played out. They have made fixing the outfield defense a priority, and putting McCutchen in center field would fly in the face of everything management has talked about over the last several months. 

Per FanGraphs, McCutchen was worth negative 16 Defensive Runs Saved in 2017, making him one of the three worst defensive center fielders in the big leagues (the Giants already have the worst). This wasn’t a one-year fluke, either. McCutchen's defensive metrics have been brutal over the last couple of years and the Pirates actually moved him to right field before Starling Marte’s suspension wrecked their plans. 

The Giants went down this road with Angel Pagan and then again with Denard Span. At some point, a player needs to move to a corner, as Span now will, and they absolutely can’t look at McCutchen as a stopgap in center field, not with the story told by his defensive numbers and the eye test. 

If McCutchen is being looked at for left field or right, he’s a nice fit. But the Giants already owe Span and Hunter Pence about $30 million, so it’s hard to see a path forward that includes those two, McCutchen, and a new defensive-minded center fielder. That’s not a reasonable allocation of resources for a team with so many holes to fill. 

Cain, Moustakas on Giants' radar? Sabean: 'My vote would be a no'

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USATI

Cain, Moustakas on Giants' radar? Sabean: 'My vote would be a no'

ORLANDO — In a world without qualifying offers, a lot of offseason moves would be easier to swallow. Put Lorenzo Cain in center, giving the Giants an elite defender at a time when outfield defense is their biggest flaw. Put Mike Moustakas at third, adding power to the worst home-run-hitting team in the majors. Many around the game, perhaps not familiar with the Giants' desire to rebuild their minor league system, think both players make sense in orange and black. 

But nine players received — and turned down — qualifying offers, including Cain and Moustakas, the former Royals stars. That’s why you can just about cross them off the winter wish list. The Giants, being over the luxury tax, would forfeit two draft picks and international bonus money if they signed either player. Asked about that possibility on the first day of the winter meetings, vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean left no doubt about where he stands. 

“If you’re asking me personally, my vote would be a no, being that we wouldn't want to get involved with somebody like that,” Sabean said.

VIDEO: Sabean -- Not a surprise Stanton, Ohtani went elsewhere

Sabean’s vote, of course, carries significant weight, but he’s not alone in his thinking. Sources said others in the front office, including general manager Bobby Evans, are just as protective of the picks that would be surrendered. The Giants would give up the second pick in the second round and the second pick in the fifth round. Because they lost 98 games and will pick second overall in every round, every pick in next June’s draft will mean a bit more. The Giants would also have to give up $1 million in international bonus pool money at a time when they are focused on becoming bigger players in that market. 

“That would be a huge hit in a year (we have) the second pick in every round,” Sabean said. “We really have a chance to make hay in this draft and we expect to do so, so that would be a stretch.”

The other players who rejected qualifying offers last month were Eric Hosmer, Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis, Alex Cobb, Greg Holland, Lance Lynn and Carlos Santana. 

Stanton turn down Giants because of Dodgers? 'If they were in the right...'

Stanton turn down Giants because of Dodgers? 'If they were in the right...'

ORLANDO — The baseball world spent the month of November waiting for Giancarlo Stanton to narrow his list and find a new home. It turns out the finalists were decided on the field in October.

Stanton’s agent, Joel Wolfe, confirmed Monday that the National League MVP preferred to play for the Yankees, Astros, Cubs or Dodgers. On the first day of the annual Winter Meetings, Stanton donned the pinstripes for the first time, and he talked about why he felt New York was the right fit in the end. He also talked about why he bothered meeting with the Giants and Cardinals if they were not on his original wish list. 

“(The Marlins) went to San Francisco and the Cardinals and struck deals with them,” Stanton said during a press conference. “So I was open to listening to them, but those were not my teams. Those are great people. They were great meetings and a great organization and culture there, but that just wasn’t the fit for me.”

The Giants flew their executives down to Los Angeles to meet with Stanton and his representatives and they felt the meeting went well. They had already agreed to terms on a package with the Marlins, with mid-level prospects being sent over in return. They were ready to assume the vast majority of the $295 million left on Stanton’s deal.

But this process was controlled by the player, and Stanton called the Marlins’ bluff. He said repeatedly on Monday that he wants to win and he’s tired of rebuilding, and he forced his way to a team that looks ready to kickstart another lengthy run of October appearances. 

The Giants and Cardinals have been postseason mainstays over the past decade, and surely that intrigued Stanton a bit, even if he had other plans. He said he wanted to learn what both organizations were about and that was part of the meeting process. 

“All I’ve experienced is the Marlins and basically one way of going about things,” he said. “So I wanted to see how other organizations went about their business and how the city and everything would appeal to me if that was a way that I wanted to go.”

During an appearance on MLB Network after his press conference, Stanton said he hopes Giants and Cardinals fans don’t hold the process against him. For the Giants, at the very least, Stanton is not a Dodger, and that played a part in this process, too. Wolfe compared Stanton — a Los Angeles native — to Brandon Crawford (another of his clients) potentially playing for the Dodgers. When he met with a scrum of reporters, Stanton said playing for his childhood team’s rival played a small part in the process. 

“I wouldn’t base a decision off that but also I wouldn’t want to go to the team that (the Dodgers) dislike the most, and I wasn’t sure if (the Giants) were going to beat that team, either,” Stanton said. “But at the same time if they were in the right position that I wanted, I would have done it.”