SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants organization got another reminder Tuesday of just how far it has fallen.
Buster Posey was the only Giant to crack the top 10 in the All-Star voting results that were released in the morning -- a far cry from even previous down years. Posey ranks eighth among catchers with 79,768 votes, nearly 800,000 behind leader Willson Contreras of the Cubs. He is behind some big names but also trails Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes and Colorado's Tony Wolters.
The Giants did not have any other players listed after the first round of voting, which isn't a shocker given their brutal start that has them 17 1/2 games out in the NL West already. But being this unrepresented in All-Star voting is still something new for an organization that has had plenty of starters over the past decade and pushed voting even during the last two seasons when the big league team lost 187 games.
In 2017, Posey led the first round of voting with 559,428 votes and ended up being selected as the starter. A year later, he again was in a position to start after the first round of voting. Brandon Crawford's ridiculous hot streak last May had him well ahead of the field in every round and he ended up being the starter at shortstop.
Crawford had 466,000 votes after one round a year ago; this year he did not get the 66,000 required to crack the top 10.
Brandon Belt was third in the first base voting after one round last year and Joe Panik was fifth at second base.
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None of the Giants starters are having a season that will put them in the All-Star Game, and the fan base has responded.
The Giants almost certainly will have closer Will Smith as their lone representative. Pitchers are not part of the fan vote.
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.