Madison Bumgarner

Longoria sends important message to Giants' Posey, Bumgarner

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Longoria sends important message to Giants' Posey, Bumgarner

SAN FRANCISCO — When he was traded to the Giants last month, Evan Longoria said he didn’t really know many of the Giants players or coaches. He certainly knew which ones to reach out to, though.

During an appearance on Sirius XM’s MLB Network Radio on Monday, the new third baseman said he sent text messages to Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey shortly after the deal that brought him to San Francisco in exchange for Denard Span, Christian Arroyo and two pitching prospects.

What was the message Longoria sent the two stars?

“Obviously I’m here to win and I’m here to follow your lead,” he said.

Longoria hasn’t played in the postseason since 2013 and he hasn’t been in a World Series since 2008. The Giants expect him to be an integral part of a bounce back season, and Longoria is currently set to hit third, right in front of Posey. The longtime Tampa Bay Ray said he has run into Jeff Samardzija and several Giants pitchers while working out at the team’s facility in Scottsdale.

“Slowly but surely I’ll meet these guys, but like I said, with Posey and Bumgarner those are obviously mainstays and kind of the faces of the team for quite some time,” Longoria said. “So I definitely wanted to make it a point to reach out to them and let them know that I’m here to be on their program and I’m excited to be here.”

Awards season reminds us how far Giants fell in 2017

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Awards season reminds us how far Giants fell in 2017

SAN FRANCISCO — It was revealed Thursday night that Giancarlo Stanton is this year’s National League Most Valuable Player. The rest of the MVP ballot shows why the Giants are chasing Stanton so hard this offseason. 

Led by Stanton, 22 different players were listed on NL MVP ballots, which have 10 spots. Two of the top five finishers — Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon — were Rockies. Four different Diamondbacks got votes, led by third-place finisher Paul Goldschmidt. The Dodgers had five players listed on ballots, including rookie Cody Bellinger, who arrived a couple of days after Christian Arroyo and finished ninth in MVP voting. 

The Giants? They didn't have a single player receive an MVP vote, continuing a theme during awards season. 

The team built around pitching did not have any players listed on the five-person Cy Young Award ballots (full disclosure: I had a vote). There were no Rookie of the Year candidates, either, and Bruce Bochy was out of the Manager of the Year running sometime in early May. The 2017 season was the first since 2007 in which the Giants didn’t have a single player listed for any of the four major awards voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America. 

The lack of award-season love is a reminder of how deep the hole is, but it’s also a sign of how much help the Giants need from their stars in order to dig out of this hole. This isn’t as simple as fixing the center field defense and upgrading the bullpen. 

Buster Posey had a good season, but his 12 homers, 67 RBI, .861 OPS and 4.3 WAR (ranked 17th in the NL) didn’t get any love at the end of a 98-loss year. Posey had been listed on at least one MVP ballot every season since 2012, when he won the award. This is the first year since 2007 that the Giants did not have a player listed on an MVP ballot. 

The organization has had similar success in the Cy Young balloting, with Tim Lincecum winning twice and Madison Bumgarner finishing in the top 10 in each of the previous four seasons. A dirt bike accident cost Bumgarner any shot of getting votes this year, and also likely cost him a third Silver Slugger Award in a season that started with two homers on Opening Day. Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto finished fourth and sixth in the Cy Young voting last season, but Cueto had a similarly forgettable season. 

Giants pick up options on Sandoval and two starting pitchers

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Giants pick up options on Sandoval and two starting pitchers

SAN FRANCISCO — After the 2014 World Series, it was just about a lock that the Giants would eventually pick up Madison Bumgarner’s 2018 option. It also seemed a lock that they would never again pick up a Pablo Sandoval option year. On Monday, both things became official. 

On a conference call to introduce two coaching hires, general manager Bobby Evans confirmed that the club has picked up Bumgarner’s $12 million option, Matt Moore’s $9 million option and Sandoval’s option that will pay him the league minimum. The Red Sox, who designated Sandoval for assignment in the summer, are on the hook for the rest of that deal. 

Bumgarner is set for another opening day start and Moore is looking forward to putting a brutal 2017 season behind him, one that did not deter Evans from saying in September that he would bring the lefty back. Both those players are set for big roles, but Sandoval’s immediate future is a bit cloudier. 

Vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean said finding an everyday third baseman is one of the focus areas of the offseason. It does not sound like Sandoval is currently in line to be that guy. He hit .225 with five homers in 160 at-bats, but showed flashes of his old self by homering off Kenley Jansen and Max Scherzer and hitting a walk-off on the final day of the season.

“We saw enough to be intrigued to bring him into camp and see how the chips fall,” Sabean said. “Having said that, if you’re going back to what the questions are and how we look at how we reconstruct, we have to have someone more prototypical or run-production oriented.”

The Sandoval situation is a simple one. He is essentially a free veteran at this point, and if he shows up in Scottsdale out of shape or doesn't perform, the Giants can cut the cord without paying any financial penalty. If he shows improvement, they could have a versatile bat for their bench. 

The Giants hoped to have more solid internal options going into the spring, but Ryder Jones had a rough rookie debut and Christian Arroyo’s injury problems continue. Arroyo’s winter ball experience was cut short because he had a new plate inserted in a hand that required season-ending surgery during the minor league season. Arroyo is expected to be ready for the start of spring training.