Farhan Zaidi reveals how Kevin Gausman, Drew Smyly fit with Giants

Farhan Zaidi reveals how Kevin Gausman, Drew Smyly fit with Giants

The Giants still have former All-Stars Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija in their rotation. There's no hiding from the fact that Madison Bumgarner is gone, though.

When it comes to San Francisco's offseason strategy, however, it was Drew Pomeranz who might have come to mind more than MadBum. 

With young, unproven options behind the two veterans, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has been looking for arms who can help his team at the start of games or out of the bullpen. He found two such pitchers in Kevin Gausman and Drew Smyly. 

"What we're looking for is guys that bring flexibility to the pitching staff. So these are both guys who have been good starters at times in their careers," Zaidi told KNBR's Larry Krueger on Monday. "They've also both pitched in relief and I think both guys have the potential to be impact relievers if they wind up in that role." 

The Giants signed Gausman at the Winter Meetings on a one-year, $9 million contract. Manager Gabe Kapler made it clear Gausman would start off in the rotation, but it was the bullpen where the former top draft pick thrived last season. 

Gausman, who recently turned 29 years old, spent time with the Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds last season. He made 16 starts for the Braves and only one as a Red. The veteran right-hander went 3-8 with a 6.37 ERA and 1.49 WHIP over 17 starts. In 14 games as a reliever, he was 0-1 with a 3.10 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. 

Smyly, who missed the 2017 and 2018 seasons with arm injuries, pitched in 25 games last season -- 21 starts, four relief appearances -- between the Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies. He was much better as a starter (5.69 ERA vs. 9.56) and hasn't consistently pitched out of the 'pen since 2013. 

The Giants signed Smyly a one-year, $4 million contract, and he posted a 3.65 ERA in five September starts for Kapler's Phillies last year. The lefty also averaged 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings in Philly. 

"We see both guys starting in the rotation, but just the fact that they can transition from one role to another and impact the team in different ways ... we've obviously got some young starting pitchers -- guys like Tyler Beede and Logan Webb, who may not start the year at the big league level but certainly we see making starts for us," Zaidi told Krueger. 

"Guys that have that kind of flexibility were really appealing to us as we look at different pitching options on the market," he added 

[RELATED: Three Giants prospects make Baseball America's top 100]

While the Giants have a plethora of options in their rotation, they still don't have a closer after Will Smith joined the Atlanta Braves this offseason. Could Gausman be an option? 

Zaidi believes if Gausman ever was thrown into that spot, he could be an "elite" ninth-inning arm. But don't expect that to happen right away.

"I think he could be at some point this year," Zaidi said. "He wants the opportunity to start and have room in the rotation, at least to start the year. And with some of those younger guys, I think we do want to manage their workloads a little bit."

Giants pitchers and catchers report to spring training on Feb. 12. We're exactly three weeks away, where questions will start to turn to answers.

Bruce Bochy didn't know of Madison Bumgarner's rodeo competition alias

Bruce Bochy didn't know of Madison Bumgarner's rodeo competition alias

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Bruce Bochy leaned against the railing of the dugout he called his spring home for over a decade. He smiled when asked about Madison Bumgarner, his longtime ace and close friend. 

"This," Bochy said, "Is the first I'm hearing of Mr. Saunders."

Mr. Saunders -- Mason Saunders, to be exact -- is Bumgarner's alias in team-roping competitions. The Athletic reported Monday that Bumgarner has participated in competitions under an alias, a story that still had teammates laughing a day later, as they prepared to face Bumgarner's Arizona Diamondbacks.

It was sent around in text messages Sunday night as word first got out. 

Bochy was coy when asked about how much he knew over the years. He joked he was a "little disappointed he didn't call me" to compete, but then said that in all seriousness, he's most amazed by the fact that the story didn't leak earlier given "his presence and who he is."

"That's pretty good, really. I knew he was doing some roping, I didn't know it was on the competitive level," Bochy said. "There wasn't going to be any stopping him. I've had players, like (Ryan) Klesko, he was out there surfing. You don't know what they're doing on their own time but to do it on a competitive level, that's pretty impressive how he hid this. 

"And he won, right? I mean, geez, that's even more impressive." 

Bumgarner did win $26,560 in a competition late last year. The Athletic reported on Bumgarner's side gig after the discovery of a photo on a Facebook page showing that Mason Saunders, a man who looked just like Madison Bumgarner, had just won a competition. 

Some former teammates said Monday that they knew Bumgarner was attending rodeos and working on roping in his spare time, but there seemed to be some surprise and amusement at the fact that he was actually competing. It was an open secret in the clubhouse that Bumgarner, who reached mythical figure status after 2014, was doing things often forbidden by standard player contracts. The first public sign of that was when he had a high-profile dirt bike crash in 2017.

Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen told reporters on Monday that he doesn't tell players what they can and cannot do off the field, noting that "Madison is a grown man and we know he's committed to helping us achieve our goals as a team."

[RELATED: What makes young D-backs so excited to play with Bumgarner]

The Giants basically took the same approach. When Bumgarner crashed in 2017 the team could have fined him and helped lower their CBT payroll, but elected not to. The Giants knew Bumgarner was riding horses -- they put him on one for a ceremony even though Bumgarner warned team officials that a horse could be unpredictable in front of 40,000 fans -- and roping.

Bochy said he doesn't think anybody knew he was actually competing. 

"I've got to think that's the end of him being on the rodeo circuit," he said, smiling. 

Four Giants named to Keith Law's top 100 prospects for 2020 MLB season


Four Giants named to Keith Law's top 100 prospects for 2020 MLB season

The Giants' rising farm system continues to be recognized. San Francisco no longer is at the bottom of rankings as they now have multiple top 100 prospects. 

Most outlets include either three or four Giants in their top 100 lists. The Athletic's Keith Law released his list Monday before the upcoming season, and four Giants prospects made the cut: Joey Bart (44), Heliot Ramos (52), Marco Luciano (58) and Hunter Bishop (87). 

This, however, is the lowest Bart is ranked among the most popular outlets. FanGraphs has him as high as No. 10, while MLB Pipeline has him at No. 14 and Baseball America ranked Bart lower at 32. Law brings up Bart's history of breaking his hands right away in his scouting report. 

Bart broke his non-throwing hand last season with the San Jose Giants, and then broke his right hand as he was tearing up the Arizona Fall League. He also broke his left hand during his sophomore year at Georgia Tech. 

Law tends to rank players more on ceiling and upside, and says Bart has a "very high floor" because of his power, but believes he must show he can make consistent contact as he continues to face tougher pitching. As for his power, Bart showed that off with his first at-bat this spring. 

Ramos really impressed Law in 2019 after bouncing back from a rough 2018 season and hitting .290 with 16 homers between Single-A and Double-A at only 19 years old. In the near future, Law sees 30-plus homer power for Ramos in the mold of a No. 4 hitter. But he sees a position change for the former first-round draft pick. 

"He’s a solid athlete, but the way his body is filling out eliminates any chance that he’s going to play center in the majors; he should be capable in right, though, and has the plus arm to play there," Law wrote. That's no surprise. Ramos is built more like a running back than an outfielder. A switch to right field shouldn't be any trouble, though. 

Luciano might have the most upside out of any Giants prospect, which makes him a bit of a surprise at 58, even though he was 17 years old all last season. Law is impressed with his patience and power and sees Luciano as the Giants' first homegrown Latin American star since Pablo Sandoval.

There's no doubt that Luciano has a higher ceiling than Pablo ever did. 

[RELATED: Watch Bart, Dubon go deep in Giants’ spring training opener]

And then there's Bishop. Like Ramos, Law envisions Bishop moving off of center field in the future. Bishop has a weak arm, making him a natural candidate for left field. He runs great for his 6-foot-5, 210-pound frame and covers a ton of ground. 

There are strikeout concerns for Bishop -- he had a 37-percent K rate last year after being taken with the No. 10 pick -- but the power is for real. Also like Ramos, Law says Bishop can consistently hit 30 long balls in the bigs. 

As the Giants set their eyes on the future, the spotlight will shine on these four players throughout this season.