Giants

Giants expect to add starting pitching, possibly at Winter Meetings

Giants expect to add starting pitching, possibly at Winter Meetings

SAN DIEGO -- The Giants will meet with Madison Bumgarner's representatives this week, but there isn't a lot of optimism within the organization that the longtime ace will be back at Oracle Park next season. Regardless of what Bumgarner decides, the Giants expect to soon add to their rotation, possibly even doing so before the end of the Winter Meetings. 

The Giants didn't make a significant move at the Winter Meetings last year, but president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said he expects that to change this year, noting that there's additional payroll flexibility and that the free-agent market is moving at a much faster pace. 

"I would expect us to add at least one starting pitcher here. And by here I don't mean necessarily in San Diego, but there's a good chance we do that," Zaidi said. "We're having multiple conversations on that front. Pitching is a big priority here for us, as it is for a lot of teams. That's been a major focus for us leading up to this and we expect it to be busy this week."

The Giants came to the Manchester Grand Hyatt with a rotation containing question marks, even if you put Bumgarner's situation to the side. Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto are the veterans, but both also could be trade chips, either this winter or next July. Tyler Beede showed flashes of brilliance last season but is still relatively unproven. Logan Webb is highly thought of but will be under an innings limit in 2020. Shaun Anderson and Andrew Suarez were moved to the bullpen in the second half and Dereck Rodriguez bounced back and forth. 

The market is flush with veteran pitchers, and Zaidi could try to replicate what he did last year, signing multiple options to one-year deals. The Giants didn't get much out of Derek Holland and Drew Pomeranz, both of whom signed in January, but were able to deal both left-handers. The Pomeranz deal brought back Mauricio Dubon. 

The lower tier this season includes Wade Miley, Tanner Roark, Julio Teheran, Dallas Keuchel and others. Lefties like Miley, Gio Gonzalez or Alex Wood might be particularly attractive given how right-handed the current rotation is. 

Any of those players would come at a price point significantly lower than Bumgarner's. The longtime Giants star is expected to earn in excess of $100 million over the course of his new deal, but the Giants have not yet backed away from the table. 

[RELATED: Zaidi says Giants plan to meet with MadBum's reps this week]

"We're one of the suitors," Zaidi told NBC Sports Bay Area. "We're just going to put our best foot forward and see what happens, but he's earned this opportunity to be a free agent and, as we expected, there's no shortage of interest in a guy with his pedigree."

Why Gabe Kapler is so excited to finally manage Giants against Dodgers

Why Gabe Kapler is so excited to finally manage Giants against Dodgers

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants, appropriately, will kick off the Gabe Kapler Era against the Dodgers.

That's where Kapler became a candidate to one day lead a club while serving as a director of player development for four years, where he learned a lot of the methods that he's now putting to use with the rival. Kapler spent plenty of time with the current and next generation of Dodgers stars, and on Thursday he noted it'll be cool to see young righty Tony Gonsolin start against Dereck Rodriguez. He said he watched a lot of Saturday's opponents, including Gonsolin, closely while working for "that other club."

Yes, Kapler is getting into the rivalry already. He wouldn't say "Dodgers" out loud while discussing Saturday's spring opener. 

"I'm just interested in the San Francisco Giants," he said, smiling, when pushed by reporters. "I've got black and orange on and I'm pretty proud of that."

Saturday is a day that Kapler has mostly avoided talking about. When asked about the start of games, he has pointed out repeatedly that the Giants have way too much work to do on back fields and in the bullpens to think too much about the Cactus League season. But it's here now, and Kapler admitted that this will be a meaningful day for him. 

For the first time since 2006, somebody other than Bruce Bochy will be on that top step. That has been an adjustment for the fan base, and many have voiced their displeasure, but the ticket Saturday is still a hot one. Mix a Cactus League opener on a Saturday with the fact that it's Giants-Dodgers and you have the most expensive ticket in spring training. According to TickPick, the average ticket for Saturday's game is $96, more than $25 more than the next hottest spring ticket (a Yankees-Blue Jays game) in 2020. 

[RELATED: Bruce Bochy visits Giants camp]

If the weather cooperates -- it's supposed to rain all day -- Kapler will give the crowd a nice preview of the season. Brandon Crawford has been pushed back a few days because he had flu-like symptoms this week, but the rest of Saturday's projected lineup is full of potential 2020 regulars:

Duggar CF
Longoria 3B
Belt 1B
Posey C
Davis RF
Slater LF
Dubon SS
Solano 2B
Ruf DH
Rodriguez SP

Bruce Bochy visits Giants camp, plans to spend time with Gabe Kapler

Bruce Bochy visits Giants camp, plans to spend time with Gabe Kapler

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Pablo Sandoval grabbed a glove from his bag, looked up and saw a familiar figure 20 yards to his left. 

"Bochy!" Sandoval yelled, waving. 

Bruce Bochy, the Giants' longtime manager and current special advisor, stayed away early in camp, trying to show respect for the new manager, Gabe Kapler. But with Team France about to start working out in Tucson, Bochy, its manager, drove to Arizona and visited his former players. He said he plans to be around off and on in the coming weeks, and several players made plans to spend more time with Bochy while he's in the area. 

Kapler did, too. He ran over to shake Bochy's hand after live batting practice and the two talked about getting together. Kapler called Bochy a "legend" and said he hoped he would speak with the full team at some point. 

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"That's something I want to talk to Boch about and gauge his comfort level, but I'm really happy he's here," Kapler said. "It brings a lot of energy to the fields and it's nice to look in there and see Boch there."

Kapler and Bochy met during the search for the new manager and they had some conversations after the decision was made. Kapler said they've been in contact since, although it has been a busy period for both men. Kapler had very little time to put together a new staff and he crisscrossed the country meeting with players. Bochy did some traveling, including a visit to Miami for Sandoval's wedding. He now is preparing for World Baseball Classic qualifying. 

Bochy and Team France will play their first game March 13 in Tucson. His brother, Joe, will be his bench coach and his son, Brett, will be one of his pitchers. Bochy's team will be overmatched -- his best player is likely to be former Giant Alen Hanson, who has some French blood -- but he has thrived in those situations in the past.

[RELATED: Why Giants might not name closer before they break camp]

Kapler's first camp since taking over for Bochy has encouraged players to find any possible way to get better, and that's something the manager takes to heart. He is constantly looking for ways to improve. So what can Kapler learn from spending time with Bochy in his first season with the Giants?

"I think Boch has a really good feel for baseball from all angles," Kapler said. "I don't think there's an area of the game that he's not very developed in. Trying to get a real well-rounded view of the game through his lens is going to be really valuable for me. 

"I also think he has a really good way of just connecting with people, players, media, staff. I want to do a lot of listening when I have a chance to sit down with Boch."