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. 

Giants to pay more funds to event-based workers in coronavirus hiatus

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USATSI

Giants to pay more funds to event-based workers in coronavirus hiatus

It's unclear when games will return to Oracle Park, but the Giants announced a program Wednesday that will help keep stadium employees afloat while the sport is shut down by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

The program, announced by president and CEO Larry Baer and vice president and general counsel Jack Bair, has two tiers and will cover about 2,600 employees who work at Oracle Park during games and events. Baer additionally said all full-time Giants employees will remain employed and have been working from home. 

Major League Baseball had previously announced that all teams would pay $1 million each to help pay ballpark employees, and the Giants' ownership group and executives are chipping in an additional $700,000. It will be distributed in two ways.

The first part of the program covers event-based employees who technically work for a third party, such as the 900 Bon Appetit workers who handle food and catering at Oracle Park. Those employees will get a one-time grant of $500. The Giants expect about 2,000 workers to request this grant. 

The second part covers event-based staffers and will provide an additional $100 to $250 per month depending on length of employment and how many hours were worked during the 2019 season. This primarily benefits people like ushers, security guards and maintenance workers, along with game-day workers like the scoreboard operators and the group that tosses t-shirts into the stands. 

"They are in many ways, in our view, really the backbone of what we're doing," Baer said of the collective group. "They're the people that work hard, work diligently and serve our fans, which is the lifeblood of our sport and our business. Without games, obviously many of them will encounter hardship."

The majority of event-based employees had a second job elsewhere, though many work at places like Chase Center, which also has been shut down. The Giants have encouraged everyone covered by their program to also apply for unemployment benefits. They have confirmed with local and federal government officials that these supplemental payments won't impact unemployment eligibility. 

"The benefits that we're offering, in addition to unemployment, should roughly equate to what people would have made if games were played, and in some cases it could be more," Bair said. 

None of the newly announced funds came from players, but Baer said some have expressed an interest in working on their own programs and he intends to reach out to them. When the players do return to Oracle Park, it should look different. 

Some work continues on the Mission Rock development since it has been included in the "essential work" description given by the city because some of the project is dedicated to affordable housing. Workers in what used to be Lot A are practicing social distancing and wiping down equipment as they work. 

[RELATED: Kruk and Kuip recall legendary Kershaw-Bumgarner battles]

Baer also said construction on the bullpens and outfield walls has been stopped but will restart when the Giants are given the all-clear by the city. 

"We have timelines available and when we have a game at Oracle Park, we would have enough lead time to perform that work," Baer said. "Much of that work had been done already."

Giants broadcasters recall Madison Bumgarner-Clayton Kershaw battles

Giants broadcasters recall Madison Bumgarner-Clayton Kershaw battles

Programming note: Watch the re-air of Madison Bumgarner's first home run off Clayton Kershaw tonight at 8 p.m. PT on NBC Sports Bay Area.

When Madison Bumgarner is on the mound, he’s unstoppable. Things don’t change when he approaches the plate, either.

The Giants-turned-D-backs ace hit 19 home runs in his career, two of which came against Dodgers star Clayton Kershaw.

“When Madison Bumgarner took the mound at Dodger Stadium, or at Oracle Park, and he’s facing the Dodgers, and it usually was [Clayton] Kershaw, it was always an event,” Giants broacaster Duane Kuiper told NBC Sports Bay Area’s Amy Gutierrez. “And you knew it was probably going to be a one-run, two-run, low-scoring game until the eighth or ninth inning.”

On Wednesday night, the re-air of MadBum’s first home run off of Kershaw will be broadcasted on NBC Sports Bay Area. It’s a matchup and a battle that has commenced for more than a decade, both on the mound and in the batter's box. 

Kuiper compared what Bum could on both sides of the ball to that of 15-year veteran Donnie Robinson, who was a former teammate of Mike Krukow’s.

“Yeah, Donnie Robinson, ‘The Caveman,’ was a great hitter,” Kuiper said. “And he was a great pitcher.” 

Still, Bumgarner was a different breed. He was intimidating, just as Kershaw was. When a hitter would face him, he would feel the presence of the three-time World Series champion, as would everyone in attendance and watching from home. 

[RELATED: Looking back at the 19 homers Giants have hit off Kershaw]

When Bumgarner and Kershaw would square off, the two had that demeanor about one another that would create something dynamic out on the field. It was a head-to-head matchup you wouldn't want to miss.

"I loved it. I loved every pitch of every one of those games," fellow broadcaster Mike Krukow said.

"It always meant more. To me, it was a playoff game. It was between Kershaw, and it was between Bumgarner. And each guy as competitive as they were, they wanted to be the best on that given day."

Check out Kruk and Kuip's full comments in the video above.