Giants

Are Giants making bullpens in right-center field, keeping Triples Alley?

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USATSI

Are Giants making bullpens in right-center field, keeping Triples Alley?

The Giants are going through changes. As the offseason kicks off, the Giants are searching for a new manager and general manager. Longtime ace Madison Bumgarner easily could be headed for a new team in free agency, too. 

It doesn't stop there, either. Roster changes happen to every team in the league. The Giants also will be making ballpark changes before next season. 

Moving the bullpens at Oracle Park has been discussed for a long time now. Their previous place down the foul lines in right and left field were extremely dangerous, and quite possibly derailed the career of former Giants outfielder Mac Williamson. 

Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi first discussed making changes to Oracle Park in the near future during an April interview with The Athletic's Andrew Baggarly and Eno Sarris. The initial thought was moving in the fences at Triples Alley, the right-center field area that is 421 feet away from home plate and 25 feet high. 

Triples Alley seemed like a logical place to move the bullpens, making the park safer and more hitter-friendly. Keep your candles, though. It appears there won't be a Triples Alley vigil, at least not for now. 

The Giants appear to be keeping Triples Alley and will take out bleacher seats in right-center field to make room for the new bullpens. 

If this is the case, it certainly is an interesting decision. Will Triples Alley affect the Giants' ability to sign power hitters in free agency this year and in the future? Left-hander Brandon Belt has admitted in the past the large dimensions have hindered his statistics. 

"I've definitely been affected by the dimensions of the park, there's no doubt about it, but in the end if me having to play in a bad hitters' ballpark gets me to play in a good organization, I'm alright with that," Belt told NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic in April. 

Not only is that area of the bleachers the exact spot Barry Bonds broke the all-time home runs record, it also seems like a difficult area to place bullpens for two teams. Will the Giants have double-decker bullpens like Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia? It sure seems like a possibility. 

Whatever the Giants have in mind, we know the bullpens are moving. They appear to have a new home, too, as Triples Alley lives to see another day.

Sources: Madison Bumgarner, Dodgers have mutual interest in free agency

Sources: Madison Bumgarner, Dodgers have mutual interest in free agency

There wasn't a lot of time to soak in the sunny weather, but the Giants enjoyed their stay in San Diego. They made a creative trade that impressed rival clubs, added a pitcher they believe can break through, announced an innovative approach to a coaching staff, and by all accounts embraced the collaborative spirit that Farhan Zaidi wants in the front office and new manager Gabe Kapler is preaching to his staff.

But they also left staring at a potential nightmare scenario.

There is mutual interest between Madison Bumgarner and the Dodgers, sources told NBC Sports Bay Area this week, and the Dodgers met with Bumgarner's representatives at the MLB Winter Meetings. It's unclear if the Dodgers will satisfy the Giants ace's salary desires, but Bumgarner and Hyun-Jin Ryu are the top options left on the pitching market after a shockingly active week in San Diego, and LA would like to add to its rotation.

The Dodgers struck out on Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon on back-to-back days, and quickly pivoted to Bumgarner, as Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic first reported. While the Dodgers have seen Bumgarner's numbers dip in recent years, they still view him as a durable starter, someone who is young enough to be a contributor for years to come and can give them an innings-eater alongside Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw. And yes, they're well aware of what a blow such a move would be to the fan base of their main rivals.

Giants officials downplayed those concerns this week, repeatedly noting that they will build back up the right way and not be swayed by emotion. There was some skepticism about the Dodgers' true intentions, but sources say the interest is real, and that could put the Giants in a tough spot.

They met with Bumgarner's representation on Tuesday, and Zaidi said the next day that he remained engaged in conversations with the franchise's longtime ace. The price has gone higher than expected, and that's ultimately one of the main reasons Bumgarner might not end up with the Dodgers. But he also said repeatedly late in the year that his main priority as a free agent was finding a spot where he could win, and not many teams can offer a better shot at that than the one in LA.

[RELATED: Giants announce Oracle Park changes with new dimensions]

The Dodgers have limited their free-agent spending during their run to seven consecutive NL West titles. On the other side, the Giants have not yet spent more than $9 million on a free agent since Zaidi took over as president of baseball operations. Bumgarner's camp, per sources, wants to top the $100 million mark, making up for a below-market deal he signed as a 22-year-old.

Bumgarner has drawn interest from plenty of others this week, with the Angels mentioned as one potential home and the Twins known to be a strong suitor. It's unclear when he'll make a decision, but he certainly finds himself in a nice spot. The free-agent market has exploded, and he can count two longtime rivals among the teams still in the bidding for his services.

Giants announce changes to Oracle Park, move bullpens to outfield

Giants announce changes to Oracle Park, move bullpens to outfield

On the first day of the Winter Meetings, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi joked that Brandon Belt might often be checking his phone these days for updates on exactly how much the Giants would be chopping out of Triples Alley. On Thursday the Giants finally made their new dimensions official, with changes that aren't all that drastic and still will keep Oracle Park as a pitchers' park with a deep alley in right-center.

It still will be difficult for left-handed hitters to yank the ball out in Triples Alley, but the Giants did change enough that offense should get a slight boost. 

With the bullpens moving from foul territory to the outfield, Triples Alley will be cut from 421 feet to 415. The wall will be five feet closer in left-center and eight feet closer in straightaway center. The bullpens will be situated in center field on either side of the garden that already exists out there. 

"Obviously it's something that started off really as a safety issue with some of what we've seen over the last couple of years, but there's going to be a fun baseball element," Zaidi said earlier this week. "We've done a lot of studies on how we think it's going to impact things but until you actually start playing games and the ball starts flying, you're never quite sure how it's going to go. It'll be a fun and exciting time."

It'll also be a much different look for relievers and fans who sit out in the bleachers. The Giants announced that several bleacher seats will directly overlook the bullpens and they will have two new standing-room terraces out there for fans. The garden in center field will also provide a direct view into the Giants' bullpen. 

[RELATED: Giants announce eight additions to coaching staff]

For the players, the bullpens will have padded chain link openings in the wall so they can watch the game. The centerfield wall will also be one foot shorter, going from eight to seven feet, which could aid a hitter or two every year but may also make it easier for the centerfielder to rob an opposing batter. 

The Giants expect a touch more offense from the new look, but as they ran studies in recent months, they discovered that the weather was actually the main factor in knocking down potential home runs. The heavy air will still be there at night, protecting pitchers and frustrating hitters. 

That'll be good news for Giants relievers. The press release continued one more bit of important news for that group. Both bullpens will have their own bathroom for players.