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. 

Report: Tim Lincecum throws 90-93 MPH at showcase

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AP

Report: Tim Lincecum throws 90-93 MPH at showcase

Tim Lincecum was back on a mound Thursday, trying to prove to teams once again that he still has a little bit of magic left in his right arm. 

The former Giants star held a bullpen session for scouts Thursday in Seattle. The event was closed to the media, but Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that between 25 and 30 scouts were in attendance. 

And Lincecum may have some of his velocity back. According to Heyman, Lincecum was sitting between 90 and 93 miles per hour. 

Lincecum last pitched in 2016 with the Angels. In that season, his fastball averaged just 88.4 miles per hour. In nine starts with the Angels, Lincecum was nowhere near what he once was and went 2-6 with a 9.16 ERA. 

The Giants planned to be at Lincecum's showcase, according to Insider Alex Pavlovic. 

Over nine seasons with the Giants, Lincecum posted a 108-83 record and a 3.61 ERA. He won back-to-back National Cy Young awards in 2008 and 2009, was a four-time All-Star and led the league in strikeouts three times. 

Slater fighting for outfield job after Giants' offseason overhaul

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USATSI

Slater fighting for outfield job after Giants' offseason overhaul

SCOTTSDALE — Catchers are usually the only position players to hit on the main field during the first few days of spring training, but Austin Slater snuck into a group Thursday to take a few cuts. With manager Bruce Bochy leaning against the back of the cage, perhaps Slater’s session will serve as a reminder: I’m still here, don’t forget about me.

The 25-year-old broke through last summer before injuries halted his progress. As Slater focused on getting healthy this offseason, Bobby Evans focused on overhauling the outfield. That has left several familiar faces in precarious spots, and Slater finds himself fighting for a fifth outfielder job a year after batting .282 in his first 117 big league at-bats. 

At the same time, he’s trying to balance competition with health. He wants to push for an Opening Day job, but also is very aware that he needs to back it down at times as he recovers from sports hernia surgery.

“You want to prove that you can play here and win a job, but (the staff) stressed health over everything,” he said. “It does no good to push and then start the season on the DL. For me, health is the most important thing. I feel like if I’m healthy I can prove myself. There’s nothing I can prove on the DL.”

Slater originally tore his groin on July 8 and the Giants thought it would prove to be a season-ending injury. He worked his way back ahead of schedule, though, seeing limited action before sports hernia surgery the last week of September. “They went in there and cleaned up the groin,” he said, smiling where others might grimace. The procedure kept Slater from playing in the Dominican Republic as planned, although that might have been a blessing in disguise. 

The Giants were aggressive with their winter ball plans because so many young players got hurt during the season. But Jarrett Parker lasted just 24 hours before being sent home with a health issue. Christian Arroyo’s hand swelled up soon after he arrived, and he headed home. Ryder Jones immediately got food poisoning and lost 12 pounds in just over three weeks before player and team decided a mutual parting would be beneficial. 

Slater stayed home throughout, living in the Bay Area and rehabbing. The Giants told him to focus on his rehab instead of lost at-bats and then come out and try to win a job in Scottsdale. By mid-November, he was hitting again. By Thanksgiving, he was on a regular lifting and running schedule. In late January, he felt like his old self again. 

For the Giants, that means a versatile option in a new-look outfield. Slater had a .290/.343/.430 slash line going before his first injury and he’s working to tap into more power. As Bruce Bochy pointed out Thursday, Slater has a long history of putting up numbers at every level. 

“He really did a nice job of figuring out what it takes to play in the major leagues, and he has a tendency throughout his career to just get better,” Bochy said. “You have to love his right-handed bat. He’s got some pop. I think he can play all three outfield positions, so he’s in the mix.”

The Giants have Andrew McCutchen in right and Hunter Pence in left and Austin Jackson as the third guy, and Bochy’s preference is to have a true center fielder as his fourth outfielder. That leaves Slater fighting for the fifth job, alongside many others. No matter what he did last year or does this spring, Slater has options remaining, and that will come into play. A year after using 13 different players in left field, the staff is intent on having greater depth at the Triple-A level. 

Slater is a Stanford product who spent the offseason surrounded by Giants fans. He knows the math after the offseason moves.

“It doesn’t change anything,” he said. “It just adds some great guys to learn from, and there are still outfield spots to be won, so it’s not discouraging, it’s encouraging. I didn’t expect them to keep an open roster spot for a guy with 120 at-bats. We’re trying to win a championship here.”