Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi discovered Max Muncy, who went from being released by the A’s, to an All-Star and World Series champion with the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was a hell of a story.
That is Zaidi’s way. It was a similar story with Mike Yastrzemski, who went from being in the Baltimore Orioles' organization for six seasons to earning NL MVP votes in 2020.
That’s what Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper believes will be San Francisco's goal for the current free-agent market.
“If this spring training starts on time, you’re going to see two or three people that Farhan signs that fall into the category of [Kevin] Gausman last year and [Drew] Smyly last year,” Kuiper said Wednesday on KNBR’s "Murph and Mac" show. “I have to tell you, I said this a couple of weeks ago with Murph, both those guys -- when the Giants had announced they had signed Gausman and Smyly, I yawned -- and look how they turned out?”
Gausman accepted his $18.9 million qualifying offer from the Giants after becoming one of the more dependable starters in 2020. He had a 3.62 ERA and 1.11 WHIP with 79 strikeouts in 59.2 innings.
In 2020, Smyly’s fastball was topping out around the 93 mph range and his 37.8 strikeout percentage was in the top three percent of the league.
“Look what that staff did to Smyly who, when the Giants faced Smyly in 2015, he was a junk baller, he didn’t hit 89 mph with his fastball," Kuiper said.
Smyly's strong 2020 was recognized as he signed a one-year, $11 million contract with the Atlanta Braves earlier this month.
Former MLB pitcher Andrew Bailey was added to the Giants coaching staff to implement a developmental role. He’s succeeding in that department.
“So they can do some things,” Kuiper said. “Whether it’s rehabbing guys, or changing their motion, getting them well -- whatever they’re doing, they’re doing it right.”
Since the hiring of Zaidi, he made it clear to pay attention to the younger players who would be making an impact in the big leagues. That’s been his goal from the beginning. Development has proven to show it works, which could mean a few diamonds in the rough are being eyed by the Giants in free agency.