Giants

Could we be blessed enough to witness Pablo Sandoval on the mound more?

Could we be blessed enough to witness Pablo Sandoval on the mound more?

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — One of the many disappointing parts of the 2018 season was the fact that a hamstring injury cost Pablo Sandoval the chance to play all nine positions in a game in late September. Bruce Bochy wanted to make it happen, and during their first conversation ahead of the 2019 season, Sandoval reminded his manager of his versatility. 

Sandoval volunteered to be the third catcher for a second straight year, and as he did last spring, he will catch a few bullpen sessions. “It’s just to keep the cobwebs from getting too big on him,” Bochy said. Sandoval again volunteered to play some second base if needed. 

And, of course, he reminded Bochy that he can pitch and would like to pitch. 

“He’s perfect, and he wants to do it,” Bochy said. “He showed he’s pretty good at it.”

But …

“I hate to think of him pitching again,” Bochy said. 

That’s because Bochy doesn’t want to be in that position. He never used a position player on the mound until last season, when he was in such a bind on two occasions that Sandoval and Chase d’Arnaud both took the mound. Bochy hopes a situation is never that dire this year. He also doesn’t want to think about Sandoval playing all nine positions, because that would mean the Giants have meaningless games in September. 

If the Giants are to stay in the race, Sandoval could end up being a nice piece. Farhan Zaidi likes versatility, and Sandoval can handle significant time at first and third. He can play second in a pinch. Zaidi also likes platoons, and Sandoval’s splits have intrigued him. He had a .816 OPS against right-handed pitching last season with eight of his nine homers. 

The Giants have Evan Longoria and Brandon Belt locked in as everyday players on the corners, but as they look to exploit every advantage, Sandoval may see more time in certain situations. He fits a lot of what Zaidi looks for.

“He gives you options,” Bochy said. 

MLB rumors: Cardinals 'entering the fray' to pursue Madison Bumgarner

MLB rumors: Cardinals 'entering the fray' to pursue Madison Bumgarner

With the Winter Meetings rapidly approaching, MLB free agency is heating up.

One of the top available pitchers -- Madison Bumgarner -- is expected to be in high demand, particularly now that Cole Hamels has signed with the Braves and Zack Wheeler reportedly has agreed to a five-year contract with the Phillies. For teams who scoff at Gerrit Cole's price tag, Bumgarner might be the logical compromise.

The Giants have been "in communication" with Bumgarner, but rumor has it another interested team has entered the mix.

MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reported Thursday that the St. Louis Cardinals have been linked to Bumgarner, citing a source.

St. Louis already has brought back veteran Adam Wainwright on a one-year deal, and after he, Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas and Dakota Hudson, there appears to be an opening for Bumgarner in the starting rotation. Signing with the Cardinals would not only allow Bumgarner to continue pitching in the National League, but would also allow him to continue taking his own at-bats, which we know he loves so much. He also has been linked to teams such as the Twins and White Sox, but would forfeit his at-bats to a DH in each of those situations.

[RELATED: How Wheeler's reported $118M contract could affect MadBum]

While Bumgarner is expected to receive a contract in excess of $100 million, Feinsand suggests Wheeler's reported $118 million payday might serve to increase the total.

MLB rumors: Yankees make signing free agent Gerrit Cole top priority

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MLB rumors: Yankees make signing free agent Gerrit Cole top priority

Gerrit Cole is far and away the gem of the 2019 MLB free-agent class.

The former Pirates and Astros ace led the American League in both ERA and strikeouts last season and finished just behind teammate Justin Verlander in the AL Cy Young Award race.

The team that historically always has had the deepest pockets in baseball -- the New York Yankees -- have made Cole a priority in free agency, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported Thursday, citing a source.

Cole is a Southern California native with familial ties to the Giants, a team that also features one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks in the MLB. San Francisco also has been mentioned as a destination for the ace, who reportedly desires a return to the West Coast.

But if the Yankees, who always have jumped to outbid every other team for talent in free agency, decide to back up the proverbial Brinks truck for the 29-year-old, the Giants might be swiftly eliminated from contention for Cole.

Reports indicate that Cole’s price tag will “shatter” the record set by David Price when he signed a $217 million contract with the Boston Red Sox in 2015.

[RELATED: Report: Giants targeted UGA's pitching coach for same role]

While San Francisco has plenty of money to spend this offseason, it likely won’t engage in a bidding war that could approach $300 million.

Even if longtime Giant and current free agent Madison Bumgarner elects to go elsewhere in free agency, it remains to be seen how much money San Francisco would be willing to shell out for an elite talent like Cole in the heart of his prime.