Farhan Zaidi expects Giants to add at least two outfielders in MLB free agency

Farhan Zaidi expects Giants to add at least two outfielders in MLB free agency

LAS VEGAS — The first move of the Farhan Zaidi era was the addition of an outfielder. It’s possible that’ll be the theme of the offseason. 

Zaidi and the Giants entered the 2018 MLB Winter Meetings with just four outfielders on their 40-man roster, none of whom have established themselves as everyday major leaguers. On Monday, Zaidi said he expects to add at least two more outfielders to the mix before spring training.

The biggest name out there, of course, is Bryce Harper. Zaidi said the Giants have not met with Harper or his representative, Scott Boras, although he expects to meet with Boras and all the other major agents over the next three days.

There’s no indication that the Giants are seriously in on Harper, though. In fact, it’s the opposite. Larry Baer, the team president and CEO, was flying home Monday night, so the Giants certainly are not a team gearing up for one of the marathon sessions Harper and Boras reportedly have been doing. 

Even if the Giants end up with much less famous options, it’s possible that those players — like Harper — will not find their new home until January. Zaidi assessed the market as “slow moving” and said he’s looking at trade and free agent options.

“Particularly on the free-agent side, I would expect some of those options to go into the next calendar year,” the Giants' new president of baseball operations said. 

Zaidi said adding to the outfield is a "high priority" right now, although he likes the depth provided by the current group of Steven Duggar, Chris Shaw, Mac Williamson and Austin Slater. Duggar is the closest to a locked-down job, and Zaidi does view him as an everyday player down the line, but the Giants are strongly considering finding a platoon partner for Duggar, who is coming off shoulder surgery.

“The outfield is a good market to be buyers in,” Zaidi said. “There are always good options in free agency, and especially for us, as a team looking to improve offensively, having openings in the outfield are good spots to try to add offense. We’re going to be thorough. We’re not in a hurry.”

That certainly will be the case. It took a month for Zaidi to make his first roster addition, claiming outfielder Mike Gerber off waivers from the Detroit Tigers on Monday morning. In discussing Gerber, Zaidi hinted the organization is viewing things differently.

He said the team’s analytics staff looked at Statcast data to determine if Gerber has the proper range, top speed and sprint speed to play center field and right field at AT&T Park. The staff believes Gerber, who had strong minor-league seasons in 2016 and 2017 but took a step back last year, does have the right skill set.

“He can play all three outfield positions,” Zaidi said. “He’s an athletic guy, he’s a good base runner, and overall we’re just looking to improve our organizational depth in that particular area. He’s going to be a nice added piece for us.”

Alex Dickerson's bright future with Giants clouded by injury concerns


Alex Dickerson's bright future with Giants clouded by injury concerns

SAN FRANCISCO -- Once he hires a manager and general manager, Farhan Zaidi will turn to the heavy lifting. The main goal this offseason is to make the Giants lineup more competitive, particularly at home. It would be a lot easier to do that if the Giants knew exactly what they could count on from a midseason acquisition. 

Alex Dickerson changed the course of the season when he joined the Giants at Chase Field in late June against the Diamondbacks, bringing left-handed thunder to the lineup and life to the dugout as a struggling team briefly put it all together with a memorable July run. But Dickerson's season ended up going a familiar route.

He was available to Zaidi only because he had been unable to stay available for the Padres, and an oblique injury wrecked Dickerson's second half. 

That didn't leave a bad taste in his mouth, though. As Dickerson stood in front of his locker the final week of the season, he pointed out that he didn't play an inning in the big leagues the previous two seasons. 

"I just wanted to get out and compete again, and I knew there were going to be ups and downs," he said. 

The highs were game-changers for the Giants. Dickerson drove in six runs in his Giants debut and didn't slow down until he was forced to the Injured List the first week of August. In 30 games over that stretch, he hit .386 with six homers, 10 doubles, 23 RBI and a 1.222 OPS. The Giants went 20-10 when he was in the lineup. 

That's certainly not sustainable, but nothing about what Dickerson was doing looked particularly flukey, either. He has always flashed power and he showed good plate discipline and a short swing that first month. 

The oblique injury put a halt to all that, and when Dickerson returned, it was touch-and-go the rest of the way. He never felt quite comfortable, hitting .164 with three extra-base hits over his final 67 at-bats, which were scattered because he was able to start only 14 times the final six weeks. 

Looking back, Dickerson feels he returned earlier than he should have, but he has no regrets because the Giants were trying to stay in the race. He said his swing got out of whack and he was never able to find it again because he didn't go through a normal rehab process. 

There were positives, though. Dickerson's surgically-repaired back and elbow were not an issue, and he plans to be aggressive in attacking the oblique pain this offseason. Dickerson said he will do additional research and talk to as many experts as he can in an attempt to increase his core mobility and make sure the oblique pain does not return. For the first time in a long time, he's not rehabbing going into the offseason. That's a comforting feeling. 

"It'll just be a normal offseason and building up and getting in shape to hopefully play a full season next year," he said. 

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Given Dickerson's history -- he has never played more than 84 games -- the Giants can't count on a full year. But they're hopeful that Dickerson, who is arbitration-eligible and a lock to return, can be part of the solution. They can manage his health as long as that bat is still helping win games. 

"With the impact potential he showed, he's going to play as much as his body will allow," Zaidi said. 

MLB rumors: Giants interested in Astros' Joe Espada for manager role

MLB rumors: Giants interested in Astros' Joe Espada for manager role

Go ahead and add another name to the candidacy list to take over the Giants' managerial role after Bruce Bochy announced his retirement following the 2019 season.

San Francisco reportedly has asked the Houston Astros for permission to speak to Joe Espada, according to MLB Network's Jon Heyman. Espada also is a candidate for the Cubs' managing job.

Espada, 44, currently is the bench coach for the Astros. His background before joining Houston includes a stint with the New York Yankees as the special assistant to general manager Brian Cashman in 2014, where he later was named the team's third-base coach. Before that, he was the third base coach for the Miami Marlins.  

He also coached the Puerto Rican team in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. 

Espada was drafted by the Oakland A's in the second round of the 1996 MLB Draft and spent a decade playing internationally and made it through to Triple-A.

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He joins a list of potential Giants managers that includes Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro, former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler and A's quality control coach Mark Kotsay ... to name a few.

As Heyman points out, this is a younger group of candidates, which appears to be the theme across the board for Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi.

There surely will be many more names to come before we know who will man the Giants' dugout in 2020.