Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi checked off one of the biggest items on his offseason to-do list Sunday.
San Francisco hired Scott Harris to be its new general manager. Harris had been the Chicago Cubs' assistant GM since 2018, after joining the organization in 2012 as director of baseball operations.
"I am so appreciative and honored to join the San Francisco Giants, a storied franchise with a loyal, passionate and deserving fan base," Harris, a Redwood City native, said in a statement released by the Giants.
Before joining the Cubs, Harris spent two years as MLB's coordinator of major league operations. Harris completed his MBA from Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management in 2015, and graduated from UCLA in 2009 with a bachelor's degree in economics.
"We're thrilled to be able to bring in an executive of Scott's caliber to help lead our baseball operations group,” Zaidi said in the team-issued statement. "The combination of his breadth of experience, contributions towards building a championship-winning, perennial contender in Chicago and his Bay Area roots made him an ideal fit for our general manager position, and I’m looking forward to executing our vision together."
Harris will be formally introduced Monday at Oracle Park, and he'll most likely represent the Giants at the MLB GM meetings, which run Monday through Thursday in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Harris' hiring leaves one other major offseason decision on Zaidi's plate. He has yet to hire a replacement for departed manager Bruce Bochy, although he's down to three finalists.
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.
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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.
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.
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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.