Giants

Do Giants' Buster Posey, Johnny Cueto have two of worst MLB contracts?

Do Giants' Buster Posey, Johnny Cueto have two of worst MLB contracts?

The Giants ended the 2019 MLB season with the 13th-worst record in the league at 77-85, but the fifth-highest payroll at $178.5 million. A large chunk of that went to a pitcher who only appeared in four games this season. 

Johnny Cueto has pitched in just 13 games the past two years after undergoing Tommy John surgery, and also has earned $21 million in each of those seasons. Cueto, 33, will be paid another $21 million by the Giants in 2020, too. 

He isn't the only aging Giant that will earn a large chunk of change next season. Michael Ginnitti of the contract expert website Spotrac lists two Giants in his 10 toughest MLB contracts for 2020. Joining Cueto on the list is catcher Buster Posey. 

For the fifth straight season, Posey, who mainly batted in the middle of the Giants lineup this season, saw his power numbers dip to a staggering career low. The former NL MVP only hit seven home runs this year -- actually up from five in 2018 -- but drove in just 38 runs and had a .368 slugging percentage. 

Posey's 149 total bases also was a career low, and his 89 OPS+ -- OPS adjusted to a player's ballpark -- was 16 points below league average. This was the first time Posey finished a season with an OPS+ below 100, which is league average, and a bWAR (0.9) below 1.0. 

The 11-year veteran who turns 33 in March still is an elite catcher, though. His 14 defensive runs saved ranked third among NL catchers, and he threw out 24 baserunners -- tied for third in the league. The Giants hope a healthy offseason can rejuvenate Posey at the plate, but that's hard to predict. 

Oh, and we haven't even gotten to his contract yet. Posey is due $21.4 million next season, the highest figure on the Giants. With top prospect Joey Bart on the way and Posey possibly at the point of no return as a presence in your lineup, that's a whole lot of money. 

For everything he has done for the Giants throughout his career, Posey has earned what's in his bank account. But producing enough to be worth that $21.4 million figure surely will be a tall task.

Right behind Posey for the most expensive contract on the Giants next season is Cueto. He could be in a different position, though. 

Cueto finally is healthy after years of arm issues, and looked like an ace at the end of the season at times, despite his 5.06 ERA. All nine of the earned runs he allowed this season came in his final two starts against division winners in the Braves and Dodgers. 

Having Cueto on a major league mound this season was a surprise in its own right. He attacked Tommy John rehab and lost over 20 pounds. 

“It’s a long process and what I wanted to do was see how I felt,” Cueto said after his final start of the year. “I wasn’t too worried about the results. I felt great so I’ll take this into the winter as a positive.”

[RELATED: Cueto excited to take positive vibes into MLB offseason]

Cueto is confident and excited for next season to start. If he stays healthy, the Giants still have one of the top arms in baseball in their rotation. 

Simply put, it all comes down to health for Posey and Cueto. The pitcher seems better set up than the hitter, but the Giants are banking on big seasons from both of them. Literally. 

Farhan Zaidi says Giants keeping options open in pursuit of new closer

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AP

Farhan Zaidi says Giants keeping options open in pursuit of new closer

The Giants lost an All-Star early in free agency when closer Will Smith signed with his hometown Atlanta Braves last week.

Smith's departure left a clear void in San Francisco's bullpen, as he tied for fifth in MLB with a career-high 31 saves in 2019. Replacing Smith is a clear priority for Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, but he told The Athletic's Tim Kawakami on Tuesday that he is in no rush to name a new closer.

"We've got some time to figure that out," Zaidi said on "The TK Show" podcast. "I don't think we need to decide that before Thanksgiving here, but one of the benefits for us of having made some of the trades we made at the deadline is it gave us the opportunity to see some of the younger relievers in our organization. Guys like Tyler Rogers, Jandel Gustave and Sam Coonrod. [These are guys] that could work their way into the picture and work their way into late-inning [situations] in 2020."

Rogers, Gustave and Coonrod were bright spots as rookies last season. None of the trio pitched more than 30 innings, but each showed potential pitching out of the bullpen in August and September. Rogers pitched the fewest innings of the three (17 2/3), but was worth nearly a win above replacement in his appearances, according to Baseball Reference's metrics.

[RELATED: Former Giants hitting coach Powell takes job in Japan]

No matter which of the three emerges, the Giants are going to have a different look in the late innings next season. That could include a free-agent acquisition as well, according to Zaidi.

"Our closer may be in the organization right now," Zaidi continued. "We're going to continue to shop around and see what options are out there, but we at least like the depth that we have in our group of relievers."

Former Giants hitting coach Alonzo Powell takes new job in Japan

Former Giants hitting coach Alonzo Powell takes new job in Japan

SAN FRANCISCO -- As Farhan Zaidi and the rest of the front office started the search for a new manager, the coaching staff was given time to look for new jobs. Hitting coach Alonso Powell ended up across the ocean, but his new job will still be a familiar one. 

Powell will join the staff of the Chunichi Dragons, a Japanese team based in Nagoya. He played for the Dragons for six seasons, hitting .355 in one of them and won three straight batting titles while starring in Nagoya from 1992-97. Powell is reportedly already working with the team:

The Giants had kept quiet about Powell's status, but they are expected to have nearly a completely new staff under Gabe Kapler, who was hired last week. Ron Wotus will return as third base coach, but he was the only holdover to attend Kapler's press conference. 

Bullpen coach Matt Herges has already joined the Arizona Diamondbacks as pitching coach and former bench coach Hensley Meulens has been offered a job by the Marlins. Meulens was also thought to be a candidate for the Mets bench coach job, and he has not officially been announced as a staff member for the Marlins. It's unclear where pitching coach Curt Young, assistant hitting coach Rick Schu, and first base coach Jose Alguacil currently stand.

[RELATED: Harris details meaningful trip to Wrigley bleachers

Powell, a Bay Area native, came to the Giants after the 2017 season with the task of getting an aging lineup to hit for more power. There were success stories, and Powell was popular within the organization, but he was unable to squeeze much more out of a veteran group. Powell came from Houston and brought some new methods to the Giants, and they're expected to go even further in that direction. The addition of Kapler, along with former Cubs executive Scott Harris, indicates the Giants will dive even deeper into analytics.