SAN FRANCISCO -- As Giants officials and members of the media filed out of the press conference room at Oracle Park on Monday, a team employee reached over and flicked off one set of lights. Nobody bothered to take down the podium or remove the temporary seating. That all might be needed again in a few hours.
The Giants introduced Scott Harris as general manager on Monday and are poised to hold another press conference for their new manager. Harris is in the process of meeting with the remaining candidates and Farhan Zaidi said he would "have significant input into the final decision."
Zaidi said the manager announcement would come this week, and the Giants were internally preparing to introduce a new manager as soon as Tuesday. There are still three known finalists, and no decision had been made as of Monday morning. There are two who have separated from the pack, though. Former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler and Astros bench coach Joe Espada both have high-level supporters in the organization, per sources, and Kapler met with Giants officials again on Monday. He is said to be the frontrunner at this point.
The search has lasted more than a month now, in part because it ran as the same time as the search for a new GM.
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"Having both of these balls in the air at the same time has made scheduling difficult and tricky at times," Zaidi said. "I'm just really happy that we have been able to get (Harris) in place and he does have that chance to connect with those candidates and provide input and really have a say in the final decision that I expect us to make this week."
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.