AT&T no more, Giants sign 20-year deal with Oracle to rename ballpark


AT&T no more, Giants sign 20-year deal with Oracle to rename ballpark

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants have been frustrated by the pace of free agent talks this offseason, but when it came time to negotiate a new naming rights deal, they found a partner willing to move quickly. 

Oracle and the Giants announced a 20-year naming rights deal on Thursday morning that will rebrand AT&T Park as Oracle Park for the next two decades. Team president and CEO Larry Baer said AT&T informed the Giants they would not be signing a new deal when their rights expired after the 2019 season The Giants were given permission to find a new partner a year early. In about a month, they came to a deal with Oracle, one of the biggest tech companies in the world and one that is based in the Bay Area. 

The Giants and Oracle have been partners since 2003, when the suite level at the ballpark was renamed after the company. Oracle has held annual events at the ballpark ever since and the two companies have partnered for community work and the America’s Cup. 

“We feel like Oracle is already part of the family,” Baer said. “An agreement of this nature could not happen if we didn’t have this trust and connection that has been moving forward since the better part of 2003.”

While financial terms were not disclosed, Baer said the deal is in line with the top of the market for naming rights. It is believed that the Giants will receive in excess of $300 million from Oracle, a sum that conveniently fits one Bryce Harper but will be spread throughout the organization. Baer said the financial boost will in part go to the roster, but also noted that the Giants continue to make changes to their ballpark and spread resources to upgrade their minor league system.

At Oracle Park, a new scoreboard is expected to be finished in time for the Bay Bridge Series and the field level food court is undergoing a makeover. Following spring training, the Giants will begin making upgrades to Scottsdale Stadium. In 2020, they will redo their spring training minor league facility. 

A more immediate concern is making sure the ballpark is fully rebranded by the time the team returns from spring training in late March. Baer said all of that work is expected to be done by Opening Day, with the massive signs that currently say AT&T Park among the first items to be replaced. Freeway signs and street signs will also have to be changed. 

[RELATED: Details on Giants' new scoreboard]

There will be changes across the bridge, too. Mark Hurd, Oracle’s CEO, said his company’s deal with Oracle Arena was a deal with the Warriors themselves, and that naming rights agreement will expire when the Warriors move to San Francisco next fall. Hurd said the Warriors move did not have an impact on negotiations with the Giants. 

“That had nothing to do with it. We did this because this makes sense,” he said. “This makes sense for us on a standalone basis.” 

As Giants put staff together, they nearly made a historic hire


As Giants put staff together, they nearly made a historic hire

SAN DIEGO -- When the Giants announce their full coaching staff, the group will stand out for being young, with more experience in private instruction and minor league coaching than the big leagues in some cases. That'll be something new for the organization, but it has somewhat become the norm around Major League Baseball over the past couple of years. 

As they put the staff together, though, the Giants did strongly consider a move that would have been historic for the sport. They interviewed Rachel Balkovec, who recently joined the Yankees as a minor league hitting coach and became the first woman to get hired as a full-time hitting coach by an organization. 

The Giants wanted Balkovec, 32, to join them in a hybrid role that would have been something along the lines of a "quality control coach," a job that has popped up elsewhere in recent years. She would have worked on the hitting side but also contributed to the strength and conditioning side, which is her background. Balkovec had been a Yankee for just a few days when the Giants approached, and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told reporters that Balkovec elected to stay with New York after interviewing with the Giants, who brought her to San Francisco for the interview. 

This is believed to be the first time a woman has interviewed for a job on a big league coaching staff. Balkovec would have been in uniform for the Giants and working for Gabe Kapler, who said he is looking for "diversity of thought" on his coaching staff regardless of gender. 

"I've known Rachel for a really long time, Farhan (Zaidi) has known Rachel for a really long time," Kapler told NBC Sports Bay Area. "I think it was four years ago or so that we first became familiar with her work as a strength coach. Rachel is super-dynamic, incredibly smart, incredibly confident, and I have no doubt in my mind that she's going to make a big impact in baseball for many years to come."

Balkovec impressed Giants officials, who came away thinking it's just a matter of time before she is on a big league staff or takes a position high up in baseball operations. She was in San Diego this week and met with some Yankees reporters on Tuesday, where she outlined her background. Her approach is very similar to much of what the Giants have added to their staff, which will be finalized in the coming days.

“I have a special interest in biomechanics and understanding how the body moves and applying certain things, like for example, if there is a restriction in movement can they spot those types of things,’’ Balkovec said, according to the New York Post. “How is that going to affect their swing mechanics and the ability to get something done in a game situation. Also, the visual side of things, what are the best strategies of things picking up the ball for recognizing a pitch? 

"There are two sides of it, and I am not sure which one is more important at this point, but I am leaning more to the visual aspect not very many people are diving into I think at this point. It’s two-fold, understanding the body from a very base level and how it applies to the swing and action."

MLB rumors: D-backs discussed offering Madison Bumgarner $70M contract


MLB rumors: D-backs discussed offering Madison Bumgarner $70M contract

The Giants' worst nightmare began taking shape on Tuesday night when The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported the Dodgers were shifting their focus to Madison Bumgarner after Gerrit Cole agreed to a record deal with the Yankees. 

But the Dodgers reportedly aren't the only NL West team with their eyes on the longtime Giants ace.

The Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro reported Wednesday that the Diamondbacks internally discussed offering Bumgarner a "sizable" deal. Piecoro reported the D'backs "floated the idea of a contract in the range of $70 million" for MadBum. 

These talks according to Piecoro were only preliminary, however, and a formal proposal never was made. 

This isn't the first time Arizona has been linked to Bumgarner, though. MLB Networks Jon Heyman reported Tuesday that the D-backs were one of seven teams outside of the Giants to show interest in the left-hander. This, of course, came before the Dodgers report. 

After the trading Zack Greinke to the Astros last season, the D-backs still are searching for a proven No. 1 starter and the 30-year-old Bumgarner certainly fits the bill. MadBum also has appeared in 20 games -- 19 starts -- at Arizona's Chase Field and is 8-4 with a 3.13 ERA. He also hit two homers on Opening Day in Arizona in 2017. 

[RELATED: How Giants can take advantage of penny-pinching teams]

But $70 million likely won't get Bumgarner to sign on the dotted line. He reportedly is seeking a deal worth at least $100 million over five years, and that seems increasingly likely with the latest moves for starting pitchers this offseason. 

Bumgarner rumors are expected to heat up by the minute, but he doesn't appear destined for the desert quite yet.