Jay Bruce

Report: Linked to Giants, Jay Bruce agrees to multi-year deal elsewhere

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USATSI

Report: Linked to Giants, Jay Bruce agrees to multi-year deal elsewhere

Jay Bruce is not coming to San Francisco.

The 31-year-old free agent outfielder is returning to New York, reportedly agreeing to a three-year, $39 million deal to stay with the Mets according to multiple national outlets.

The Giants were rumored to have interested in the services of Bruce, and according to USA Today, they were "heavily" in on him.

Back in December 20, ESPN reported that they Giants wanted to sign Bruce but were not willing to go beyond a three-year deal.

That same day, Bruce's agent went on the radio and made it sound like San Francisco was his client's top choice.

"I think if Jay ends up in San Francisco he'd be thrilled," Matt Sosnick said on KNBR on Dec. 20.

Bruce began the 2017 season with the Mets but was traded to the Indians mid-season. In 146 games between the two clubs, he hit .254/.324/.508 with 29 doubles, 36 home runs and 101 RBI.

Could Kelby Tomlinson be part of Giants' solution in outfield?

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USATSI

Could Kelby Tomlinson be part of Giants' solution in outfield?

SAN FRANCISCO — The “hot stove” seemed to finally get going Wednesday morning when several reporters tweeted that Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole was headed to Houston. 

Would that lead to free agent starters signing deals they had in hand? Would the Pirates finally tear it down and trade Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison, too? Would the Giants be on the other end of a McCutchen deal?

Well … none of the above. Cole hasn’t been traded, at least as of this posting, and the offseason remains as quiet as ever. 

But, there are still Giants topics to go over, so here’s another round of Q&A as we wait for real moves. Thanks to everyone who reached out on Twitter and Facebook, and as a reminder, you can ask your questions here on Twitter or here on Facebook and I’ll get to them in these mailbag pieces or on the podcast. 

What is Kelby’s role? Can’t they groom him for center field and put him in the leadoff spot? — Frankie Jai Barker, via Facebook. 

Kelby Tomlinson has played parts of three seasons in the big leagues and the staff has simply never really viewed him as a starter. It’s a bit weird when you look at his career splits: he has a .280/.347/.352 slash line as a starter and a .292/.359/.348 line off the bench. I mean, he is what he is, an average-dependent player with intriguing speed and little power, but that’s a nice piece on a team without much depth. 

Tomlinson is blocked at every infield spot, and to answer this specific question, the Giants don’t believe that he can really transition to the outfield.

At the same time, I watched this front office and coaching staff put Aaron Hill in left field at the end of his career. I watched Travis Ishikawa move out there. I watched Ryan Theriot take fly balls. I have no idea why Tomlinson got just two starts in the outfield on a 98-loss team. The most underrated failure of the 2017 season is that the Giants saw practically no development at the big league level. A lot of that had to do prospects getting hurt, but the staff certainly missed an opportunity to experiment a bit with guys like Tomlinson or Chris Shaw, who I still believe should have gotten September at-bats.

Steve Young retired after his fourth concussion in three years. Brandon Belt is in that ballpark. Has he or the team given retirement a thought? — Patrick Connolly, via Facebook

Belt’s concussion in August was his third in the last four seasons and fourth in eight years when you include a really bad one he suffered while playing at the University of Texas. There was concern when this latest one happened and I’m sure Belt and the team still have concerns, but in talking to Belt and team officials, I’ve never heard a hint of retirement talk. In September, when he admitted his season was over, Belt said he was focused on 2018, and added that none of the doctors he has seen have told him he should stop playing. 

“There are always going to be some questions about whether this has some long-term effects, and hopefully it doesn’t,” Belt told me. “But right now it’s not going to keep me from playing baseball … It’s not like I’m repeatedly banging my head against something. If that was the case, it might affect me more in the long term. This is more sporadic and the hits aren’t too terrible. Once I get over these concussions, they tell me that I won’t have to worry about them anymore.”

For the sake of Belt and his family, you hope that that’s true. This is different than football in that Belt doesn’t really have any other collisions that have gone undiagnosed, and there’s no reason to think he’ll take another blow to the head. As I always say when people call him injury prone, people just need to stop throwing baseballs at Belt and he’ll be fine. Hopefully that’s the case for the rest of his career.

Why would the Giants pursue either a free agent (Bruce) or a rental player (McCutchen), rather than try to get a player that they would have more control over the next few years? I would think that the allure of having a stable lineup would be better than the volatility of the market. — Eric Quertermous, via Facebook. 

In a perfect world, the Giants would have walked away from the Winter Meetings with Marcell Ozuna, or they would be at the front of the line for Christian Yelich, or they would have a deal ready for Jackie Bradley Jr. Unfortunately, they live in a world where they just don’t have very many prospects that appeal to other teams. The Marlins made it clear that the Giants didn’t have enough to get Ozuna, who would have solved a ton of their problems, and there’s no way they can outbid others for Yelich, who is 26 years old and owed just $44.5 million over the next four years. 

This is why Brian Sabean has said that he doesn’t want to give up draft picks (second and fifth rounders) for a player like Lorenzo Cain, and it’s why I believe strongly that they need to stick to those guns, no matter how weird this offseason gets. To compete as this core ages, they’ll need a better farm system so they can be more competitive on the trade market. 

Or, a more ideal situation: Start developing homegrown stars again and then lock those guys up. That’s light years more efficient than their recent run of spending hundreds of millions in free agency. 

With Matt Moore gone, is Ty Blach back in the rotation? Stratton, Beede, Suarez or get a vet starter to round out the top five? — @Jeff_Henig

After the Moore trade, I kept thinking back to a conversation I had with Bruce Bochy in September. I asked him if Chris Stratton was legit and if he would be the No. 5 starter in 2018. “I think he’s more than that,” Bochy said. He always viewed Stratton as more than a swing guy, and I would expect the right-hander to open the year as the No. 4 starter. The Giants have been hesitant to say much about Blach’s role before he gets to spring training, but my gut says he’s headed for the bullpen as another lefty/long reliever. As I wrote in an earlier mailbag, don’t overlook Andrew Suarez in the race for the No. 5 spot, but my guess is that the Giants will sign a veteran to a minor league deal, and that he will win the job in Scottsdale. That’s what they do. 

Alex, wondering if Eduardo Nuñez is still available? Would definitely prefer to see Nuñez over Pablo Sandoval. — Mark Hanes, via Facebook. 

Mark, I’m sure the rest of the fan base agrees, and Nuñez is still looking for a job. Ken Rosenthal wrote recently that some established big leaguers have started to ask their agents if they’ll have to take minor league deals, and if Nuñez is sitting there in a month and looking at nothing but cheap one-year offers, I would absolutely make the call. He would be perfect as super-utility backup, and man, this team sure could use more guys with energy. I’ve got to think that eventually someone will give him $4-5 million or so, and the Giants would be better served using that kind of money on their bullpen, but who knows … this continues to be the weirdest offseason in recent memory. 

After trading for Evan Longoria, what's next for Giants?

After trading for Evan Longoria, what's next for Giants?

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants waited nearly three months after their final game to announce their first significant move of the offseason, so they understand that there’s not much of a grace period after the Evan Longoria trade. What’s next? Team officials seemed to know that question was coming Wednesday, and at several points they indicated that another hole was about to be filled. 

After calling the Longoria trade “a long-awaited day in our offseason dealings,” vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean said, “We hope to add accordingly and we hope it will be as significant a move as this one.”

So what actually is next? In conversations with league sources after the Longoria deal, a picture emerged of what the team hopes to do after adding Longoria at third base. The Giants obviously want to add an outfielder, but they also have pivoted back to the relief market, and there’s some hope within the organization that the team can fill two holes -- outfield and bullpen -- with one trade. 

Team officials believe the trade market holds more appealing relief options at this point than free agency, and there is newfound financial flexibility to take on another team’s heftier deal after a pair of trades. The Matt Moore deal wiped $9 million off the books, and while exact figures of what the Giants got back from Tampa Bay are not known, the Giants actually are further under the tax line than they were before the Longoria trade. The combination of Denard Span’s contract and cash — believed to be about $14 million — shipped over from the Rays created additional breathing room.

Does that mean Jay Bruce? Andrew McCutchen? Billy Hamilton? While the Giants like Bruce, he is not said to be Plan A at this point, despite his name being connected to the Giants all week. McCutchen also is not on the front burner, but the team continues to discuss a Hamilton deal with the Reds. Those talks have been held up by high demands, and the Giants hope to be a bit more cautious with their prospects after dealing Christian Arroyo. Those long-term concerns continue to come into play for other potential moves; while national writers like to connect the Giants to Lorenzo Cain, the front office has held firm in a belief that it cannot sacrifice the two draft picks it would cost to sign a player who got the qualifying offer. 

The Longoria discussions picked up at the winter meetings, and while in Orlando, team officials talked to the Brewers about their outfield surplus and the White Sox about outfielder Avisail Garcia. The offseason started with the front office looking for a center fielder, but Sabean is said to be a big believer in prospect Steven Duggar, so it’s possible the Giants will ultimately spend most of their remaining resources on a corner bat. 

On paper, the Giants need a leadoff hitter, but manager Bruce Bochy said Wednesday that non-traditional options have already been discussed internally, so the Giants could instead opt for another power bat to hit sixth. Right now, the lineup has Longoria, Buster Posey and Brandon Belt hitting 3-4-5, although Belt is one of the names being thrown around for a top-of-the-order slot. 

The Giants seemed confident this week that the seeds have been planted for an outfield addition and a new reliever, but that won’t end the winter shopping. The front office is canvassing the starting pitching market for back-end guys, and it’s expected that at least one veteran is brought in to compete with Chris Stratton, Ty Blach, Tyler Beede and Andrew Suarez for the last two rotation spots. Even before the winter meetings, Evans was talking to veteran starters who could come into camp on a minor league deal and try to win a job.