Brian Sabean

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

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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. 

Big changes coming? Brian Sabean says Giants face 'some painful decisions'

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Big changes coming? Brian Sabean says Giants face 'some painful decisions'

The Giants know they can't have another season like they did in 2017. Changes to the roster are coming, but in what fashion is the biggest question. 

While certain players like Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner will not even be brought up, are there any other players safe from trades? 

"There's going to be some painful decisions," Executive Vice President Brian Sabean said Friday on the "TK Show. "I guess the best way to say it is we've come to the realization, to do what we need to do, to be competitive to start the year and hopefully have to also roll into making some moves at the deadline, is that we're going to have to make some tough choices and may have to move some payroll, which means moving some people who perhaps we wouldn't under a normal circumstance."

Sabean has listed the team's three positions of need as center field, third base and creating a shut-down bullpen. In doing so, Sabean hopes to roll out a younger, more athletic roster in 2018. 

"We do need upgrades in certain and key positions. High on the wish list is to get younger, more athletic and play better defense overall," Sabean said. 

If you think going younger means there will a rebuild in San Francisco, think again. Sabean refuses to use that word and sees this offseason as an opportunity to create a playoff team like the Giants have done in the past. 

"I think we're prepared to do as much as we have to without gutting the team or without having to peel it all the way back from a payroll sense. It's best use a phrase perhaps like 'reset.' It's not going to be a rebuild. We don't have the time or the patience to go through something like that, so the charge is going to be much like years ago -- '96 going into '97, 2010, '11 going into '12, '13 going into '14 etc."

The Giants went from worst to first in 1997 and went on to win the World Series in 2010, 2012 and 2014 after not making the playoffs in the previous season. 

Brian Sabean: Giants not going to anoint Steven Duggar, but...

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Brian Sabean: Giants not going to anoint Steven Duggar, but...

SAN FRANCISCO — Two years ago, the Giants went into the offseason eager to add pitchers who could give them 200 innings. Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto fit that mold. Last year, the team desperately needed a closer, and Mark Melancon was brought in. 

This year’s end-of-season press conference focused on two areas. Team officials would like to add a dynamite defensive player in center field, and they would like to close the power gap that exists between the Giants and the rest of baseball. The early indications are that the Giants expect to address these issues through trades, not free agency. But could some of the fixes come from in-house? 

On this week’s episode of The Giants Insider Podcast, I asked Brian Sabean about two players who could potentially fix those problems. First, the power bat. Sabean has seen a lot of left fielder Chris Shaw the last two years, and he said two traits that stand out are that Shaw has made himself into a really good all-around hitter and he has major league power to all fields. Sabean believes that power will play at AT&T Park, even as a lefty.

“Those go hand-in-hand with being a run producer,” Sabean said. 

Shaw hit 24 homers across two levels, leading the organization. The 23-year-old had a .858 OPS after a promotion to Triple-A Sacramento. The current concern is his lack of experience in the outfield, and he’ll play in the Arizona Fall League to get more reps. Sabean said he agrees with general manager Bobby Evans’ assessment that Shaw’s bat is ahead of his glove.

“I saw improvements through the course of the year,” he said. “The problem is playing left field in our left field isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to do, but having said that, if you can improve the center field defense — where you really get a ballhawk — then you can strategically kind of (shift Shaw) hitter to hitter or as innings develop.”

That ballhawk could end up being Steven Duggar, a 23-year-old who likely would have gotten a call-up had it not been for injuries. Duggar posted a .302/.388/.488 slash line in 2016 but he was limited to 44 minor league games in 2017, most of which were on rehab assignments. He also will play in the AFL, and the Giants believe he’s a true center fielder. 

“After last year, I think he was on everybody’s board in the organization as a potential five-tool player,” Sabean said. “Very good athlete. A lot of things come natural for him in the outfield. His reads, his breaks, his ability to outrun the ball, is very impressive. While the bat is still on the come, he should be a complementary type of offensive player in a major league lineup. Now, is he let’s say top of the order? I don’t know if we have enough information. But he certainly, far and away, is the next best thing or the next center fielder that we hopefully can produce sooner than later.”

The Giants have said Shaw will get a long look in spring training. Sabean said the same holds true for Duggar.  

“It’s not like we’re going to anoint him as the center fielder or put that kind of pressure on him, but with more playing time and catching up on at-bats this winter, he’ll be positioned to show us how soon he’s capable of contributing,” Sabean said. 

During our conversation, we also talked about this year’s draft class (led by Heliot Ramos), having the No. 2 pick in 2018, getting better in the international market, analytics, and the job Evans did in 2017.