With Belt's six-year deal, Giants lock up another core player


With Belt's six-year deal, Giants lock up another core player

SAN FRANCISCO — As he sat on a podium with Brandon Belt on Saturday afternoon, Giants vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean compared his young infield to the Yankees core of the late 1990s. That group turned New York into a dynasty, and the Giants are hoping their current strategy leads to a few more parades down Market Street for Belt and the rest of a deep lineup.

Belt prioritized being in San Francisco as long as Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford and others who are locked in long-term, and on Saturday he put pen to paper on a six-year, $79 million deal that could keep him a Giant through 2021. 

"To say that I'm excited and grateful is really an understatement," Belt said. "I think I've matured and grown a lot over the past five years or so. A lot of that is due -- if not all of it -- to this organization from the top down. You're going to have a lot of core guys here for such a long time. I definitely wanted to be here as long as them."

Belt's final numbers came in just a touch above the $75 million Crawford deal that kicked off this $405 million spending spree by the Giants. Belt will get $6.2 million this season as agreed upon in February during the arbitration process. The raise he got in arbitration this year will be duplicated for 2017, which would have been Belt's final arbitration year, leading to a salary of $8.8 million next year, $6 million of which will be paid as a signing bonus in January. For the following four seasons -- which would have been free agent years -- Belt will get $16 million per year. He has a partial no-trade clause that keeps him from being dealt to 10 teams of his choosing. 

General manager Bobby Evans accelerated talks with Belt's representatives during the arbitration process. He said the sides were very close to a deal by Opening Day, but the hoopla surrounded the first week of real baseball slowed things down. Belt was a priority for Evans, who noted his ability to post an OPS above .800 while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense. Evans revealed that Belt finished second for the Gold Glove last November.

"We think we still will see even more from Brandon in the years to come," Evans said. 

[RELATED: Giants announce long-term extension for Brandon Belt]

The 27-year-old is a lifetime .271 hitter, with 116 doubles, 63 homers and 237 RBI in 561 games. Belt’s on-base percentage of .355 since the start of the 2012 season ranks seventh among MLB first baseman, behind Joey Votto, Paul Goldschmidt, Prince Fielder, Freddie Freeman, Edwin Encarnacion and Anthony Rizzo. He has at times moved to left or the bench to clear a spot for Posey, but the deal emphatically shuts down any talk of the MVP catcher switching positions down the line. 

"That has never been an internal topic of any sort," Evans said. "There's been a lot of talk externally, but we view Buster as the quarterback back there."

Evans noted that Posey's presence behind the plate helps the team attract marquee pitchers. Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija were part of a spending spree that includes the Denard Span deal and extensions for Belt and Crawford. All told, the Giants have guaranteed $405 million since mid-November, but Evans said the deals are spaced out and will not dramatically increase payroll. The Giants quietly expect to be above $200 million in yearly payroll soon, and this deal folds neatly into that plan.

"It's been an organizational commitment to do as much as we can with our homegrown infield, and Brandon is another example of that," team president and CEO Larry Baer said. 

While it was a life-altering day for Belt, the press conference had a rather somber tone. The Giants had an hour earlier suffered a 3-2 loss to the Dodgers, giving up the tying run in the ninth and winning run in the 10th. Belt had a chance to extend the lead in the seventh when he hit a blast to right off Clayton Kershaw, who has limited Belt to three hits in 40 career at-bats. The ball traveled 393 feet but died near the 421 sign in right-center, a feeling Belt has come to know well in a park that's not conducive to left-handed power. As Belt walked back to the dugout, he shook his head and smiled. Kershaw, a fellow Texas prep star, laughed.

"I thought I got that one pretty good," Belt said later, smiling. "As soon as I hit it, I was like, 'Yes! I got him!' But unfortunately it didn't go out. That's alright."

Thanks to Saturday's deal, Belt will get quite a few more chances.

Cubs vs. Giants lineups: Madison Bumgarner makes possible final home start

Cubs vs. Giants lineups: Madison Bumgarner makes possible final home start

Only one thing can be true: Either Madison Bumgarner is making his final home start in a Giants uniform against the Cubs on Tuesday night, or he's not getting moved at the rapidly approaching trade deadline.

Given San Francisco's recent hot streak -- the Giants have won 16 of their last 19 games and now sit just two games out of a playoff spot -- it doesn't seem nearly as likely that Bumgarner (5-7, 3.65 ERA) will be traded as it did just a few weeks ago. The Giants are fully in the thick of the playoff race, and have their best pitcher taking the mound against Chicago.

[RELATED: Looking back at MadBum's unique dominance at Oracle Park]

Bumgarner has been on fire as of late, having gone 2-0 with a 1.55 ERA in his past five starts, with 34 strikeouts in 29 innings. The left-hander has posted a 9-2 career record against the Cubs, who have struggled against southpaws so far this season. Chicago ranks 13th out of 15 National League teams with a .242 batting average against lefties.

Opposing Bumgarner for the Cubs will be Yu Darvish (3-4, 4.46 ERA), who has yet to allow a run in 12 innings since the All-Star break. In wins over the Pirates and Reds, Darvish allowed just four hits and struck out 15 to just one walk.

The Giants will go with a lefty-heavy lineup against the Cubs' right-hander, with Alex Dickerson starting in left field and batting cleanup.

Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Giants Pregame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming on the My Teams app.

Here are the full Cubs-Giants lineups:

San Francisco Giants (51-50)
Brandon Belt, 1B
Buster Posey, C
Pablo Sandoval, 3B
Alex Dickerson, LF
Brandon Crawford, SS
Mike Yastrzemski, RF
Kevin Pillar, CF
Joe Panik, 2B

Madison Bumgarner, LHP (5-7, 3.65 ERA)

Chicago Cubs (54-46)
Kyle Schwarber, LF
Javier Baez, SS
Kris Bryant, 3B
Anthony Rizzo, 1B
Albert Almora Jr., CF
Jason Heyward, RF
Robel Garcia, 2B
Victor Caratini, C

Yu Darvish, RHP (3-4, 4.46 ERA)

Bruce Bochy gushes over work Farhan Zaidi has done with Giants' roster

Bruce Bochy gushes over work Farhan Zaidi has done with Giants' roster

You might think that the Giants' recent hot streak has put president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi in a bit of a tough spot.

The Giants were seen as surefire sellers heading into July, but manager Bruce Bochy's club now has won 16 of their last 19 games and is in the thick of the NL wild-card race. 

With eight days remaining until the MLB trade deadline, Zaidi now must decide if wants to sell off the likes of Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith, or perhaps pick up a player or two that can help give Bochy one last run at October baseball.

While the winning streak might make Zaidi's job a little tougher, Bochy told MLB Network Radio's "Inside Pitch" that Zaidi is having a blast with the recent hot streak, and the manager gushed about the work Zaidi has done to improve the Giants.

"You know, it's been great with Farhan," Bochy said. "I tell you, he's a really smart, good baseball man. He's all about winning. That's all he wants to do, so he's having a lot of fun with this, trust me. Sure there was a lot of discussions earlier, 'Well we're going to make moves and move guys, whatever' But I assure you, this is a lot more fun for him, and he's having a better time, and so it's really been fun to see how we've improved our roster, too. He's done a great job of doing that, getting the Dickersons here and Yastrzemski, and of course, Slater coming up here and Anderson and Beede out there pitching for us.

"It's going well here and it's obvious winning makes our lives a lot better, but it's fun to see our fans enjoy it, but also for Farhan to see a better team. As I go out, that's what I wanted to do is to try to get this club back on track and back to winning baseball. That's our goal and hopefully, I leave it in a better spot than when I came here."

[RELATED: Looking back at MadBum's unique dominance at Oracle Park]

The Giants enter Tuesday's game against the Chicago Cubs -- which will be filled with "hordes of scouts" to watch Bumgarner -- at 51-50, two games out of the second NL wild-card spot.

Another win or two against the NL Central-leading Cubs might be all Zaidi needs to abandon thoughts of dealing Bumgarner and Smith and see how far the winning wave can take the Giants.