Giants

Giants GM Scott Harris details meaningful trip to Wrigley Field bleachers

Giants GM Scott Harris details meaningful trip to Wrigley Field bleachers

SAN FRANCISCO -- Farhan Zaidi has been part of the group moving the bullpens to center field at Oracle Park, but once the season starts, he'll never have an up-close view of the action out there. The front office has a suite on the club level and Zaidi also has an office in the clubhouse, where he can work while watching his Giants. 

If Zaidi is able to accomplish his goal of getting the Giants back to the postseason, though, you might see him out in the bleachers by the new bullpens. His general manager might demand it

Scott Harris was an integral part of the Cubs' baseball operations department when the team won the World Series in 2016, and earlier that year, he played a leading role in a moment that went viral. Harris and other Cubs executives watched a game from the bleachers after the Cubs clinched their division, with president of baseball operations Theo Epstein sporting a fake mustache that made him stand out even more than his fame would have. 

On this week's Giants Insider Podcast, Harris explained how he got Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer, and other Cubs executives to watch a game from Wrigley's wild bleachers. Harris said they generally watched games from the general manager's suite behind the plate and always noticed how much fun fans were having in the bleachers. 

"We were longing for a day when we could actually go out into the bleachers," Harris said. "I kept asking Theo and Jed, 'Hey we should do that one time' or 'Everyone should have the opportunity to go.' They finally said, 'If we win the division, the next day we can all go out to the bleachers.' Sure enough, we won the division and I reminded them via text message that night and we set it up so that we could go sit in the bleachers for that game. 

"We thought we would get away with it for a few innings -- maybe by the seventh inning people would start to catch on. In the very first inning the relievers in the bullpen started pointing at us and then our centerfielder flipped a ball to us. We thought to ourselves, 'Well, our cover is blown.'"

For Harris, hired a week ago to rebuild the organization with Zaidi and Gabe Kapler, it's more than just a funny story and memorable day. It's an example of the kind of leader he wants to be. Asked what stood out about working for Epstein and Hoyer, who finally brought a championship back to Wrigley Field, Harris mentioned their "commitment to culture."

"These are really stressful and very demanding jobs and you often work closely with people for as many as 17 hours a day, so culture is very important, working relationships are very important," Harris said. "You have to work closely together with the people on your baseball ops staff and the president and put yourself in a position to make the right decisions, to make sound baseball decisions one after another after another, to reshape an organization. 

[RELATED: Top 10 position players available in free agency]

"They were fully committed to that in Boston (where Epstein won a title). Jed was in San Diego and then both Theo and Jed were in Chicago, and I hope to bring elements of that to San Francisco."

For more of Harris' thoughts on coming to San Francisco, learning from Epstein and Hoyer, developing top prospects, and baseball research and development, you can stream the Giants Insider Podcast here or download it on iTunes here.

MLB rumors: Cardinals 'entering the fray' to pursue Madison Bumgarner

MLB rumors: Cardinals 'entering the fray' to pursue Madison Bumgarner

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.

[RELATED: How Wheeler's reported $118M contract could affect MadBum]

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.

MLB rumors: Yankees make signing free agent Gerrit Cole top priority

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MLB rumors: Yankees make signing free agent Gerrit Cole top priority

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.

[RELATED: Report: Giants targeted UGA's pitching coach for same role]

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.