Giants

Aramis Garcia continues hard work after successful Giants debut

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USATSI

Aramis Garcia continues hard work after successful Giants debut

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Nobody upped their stock last September more than Aramis Garcia, who hit four homers in a late-season audition and impressed the staff with how far he has come defensively. But even in the midst of that run, Garcia knew he had a lot more work to do.

The young catcher spent part of September questioning teammates about private hitting coaches they used in the offseason. He settled on Craig Wallenbrock, a renowned instructor in Southern California. Garcia was so committed to making changes that after he got married in the offseason, he spent the first six weeks of marriage traveling to Santa Clarita on weekends to work on his swing. Garcia also worked with hitting coach Alonzo Powell at the team facility in Scottsdale.

“I just knew that I had to make some adjustments,” he said. “There were some inefficiencies in my swing that I had to clean up.”

Garcia primarily has been focused on working the middle of the field, and during the first couple of weeks of batting practice this spring, he repeatedly peppered the gaps and went the other way with ease and power. 

“That’s been a real revelation to me,” Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said after his first extended look at Garcia. “The power has been really impressive.”

Garcia has two homers this spring, including one off the scoreboard against the A’s last weekend. He has a .823 OPS with decision time quickly coming up. 

The Giants need a durable backup early because Buster Posey will be slow-played, and Garcia and veteran Rene Rivera have separated from what originally was a large pack. Stephen Vogt eventually should enter the mix, but he likely won’t be ready for Opening Day as he recovers from a shoulder injury. The Giants must decide if they’ll go with Rivera, who has been there before, or see if Garcia can continue his progress at the big-league level. 

[RELATED: Garcia soaks up knowledge in the bigs]

They left the door open, not re-signing Nick Hundley, in part because of what Garcia showed in September. He’s eager to build off that, and he’s enjoyed a month-long competition for the backup job. 

“I didn’t expect them to just give (me the job),” he said. “They’ve always brought veterans in, and I enjoy it. You get to work with guys that have been around and you can pick up on things. It’s just great being able to be around these guys.” 

MLB rumors: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals agree to seven-year, $245M contract

MLB rumors: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals agree to seven-year, $245M contract

The World Series MVP is staying home. 

MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported Monday that star free-agent pitcher Stephen Strasburg is returning to the Nationals. ESPN's Jeff Passan later reported the contract is worth $245 million over seven years. 

The massive contract is the largest in MLB history for a pitcher, and breaks the record for average annual value. The figures also are the same that the Yankees reportedly offered Gerrit Cole in recent days. Cole's deal with his future new team could now reach the heights of $300 million. 

With one ace off the market, the race to sign longtime Giants hero Madison Bumgarner could speed up. 

Bumgarner reportedly wants to stay in San Francisco, but according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, the Giants have "shown no inclination to keep him." In recent days, the Cardinals, Twins and White Sox all have been linked to the left-hander. 

“Obviously, he has roots in other parts of the country that may be attractive to him,’’ Giants president of baseball operation Farhan Zaidi said during a recent Q&A at Oracle Park, via The Athletic. “It’s his decision. That’s the beauty of free agency for players. But we are going to be involved in that process.”

The Yankees and Dodgers also were briefly connected to Strasburg, and could shift their focus to Bumgarner, especially if they miss out on Cole. Both franchises are sick of falling short of a World Series ring, and seem primed to make a big move this offseason. 

Nightengale also reported Monday that teams are being told Bumgarner is looking for a deal worth at least $100 million over five years. That seems increasingly likely with Zack Wheeler joining the Phillies on a $118 million contract. 

[RELATED: What to watch for as Giants head to MLB Winter Meetings]

With Strasburg's reported contract and the giant wads of cash Cole is about to receive, Bumgarner could be seen as quite the discount for teams. Expect rumors to ramp up regarding MadBum at the Winter Meetings currently being held in San Diego.

Hang tight Giants fans, this could get emotional.

New MLB jerseys for 2020 feature distracting Nike swoosh logo on chest

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AP

New MLB jerseys for 2020 feature distracting Nike swoosh logo on chest

Billy from "School of Rock" said it best: "You're tacky, and I hate you." 

We're all thinking the same thing looking at Nike's new MLB jerseys for the 2020 season. An agreement in January was announced between MLB, Fanatics and Nike, making Nike league's on-field partner and official uniform provider. 

Nike's first installment of jerseys have begun trickling out, and, my god, talk about being pretentious. The jerseys feature a distracting swoosh logo right across the upper right chest.

A's and Giants jerseys will remain the same outside of the Nike logo on the chest.

It's a stark difference from Majestic, MLB's previous jersey provider. In years past, a small logo was placed on the left sleeve. 

But Paul Lukas of Uni-Watch says MLB sold the chest space to Nike for a higher price. 

[RELATED: Why Yankees offering Cole $245M is good for Giants, A's]

Some fans rightfully are upset about the changes while others are ambivalent, but it shouldn't be a surprise. The NBA began placing sponsorships on their jerseys starting in the 2017-18 season. The NFL does the same for their practice jerseys. 

While baseball is one of the most "traditional" sports and often behind the times, don't be shocked if sponsors soon find their ways onto MLB jerseys.