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Giants have contract decisions to make on Kevin Pillar, other veterans

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Giants have contract decisions to make on Kevin Pillar, other veterans

SAN FRANCISCO -- The move might not have made headlines outside of Baltimore, but it was one that had many within the industry grumbling. 

The Orioles, in full tank mode, opted to place infielder Jonathan Villar on outright waivers last week rather than pay him about $10 million in arbitration. Villar isn't a household name, but he arguably was Baltimore's best player, and in that sense, he's similar to a man who is awaiting a decision from the Giants. 

Kevin Pillar is projected to make nearly $10 million in his final year of arbitration and the Giants could argue that they would be better-served long-term by giving those at-bats to a younger option and spending their resources in a different way. But the Giants are not the Orioles, and in no way should they resemble them, really, which is what makes Monday's decision so fascinating.

The Giants have until 5 p.m. PT to tender a contract to Pillar and five others, and their decisions will tell us a lot about the direction the front office is going. 

President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has talked often over the last year of being competitive while building a new foundation, and Pillar, the Willie Mac Award winner, was a big part of the limited success the Giants did have in 2019, hitting 21 homers and driving in 88 runs while providing plenty of highlights in center field.

There are reasons why the tender decision isn't a slam dunk, though. Pillar ranked 68th out of 69 qualified hitters in the NL with a .293 on-base percentage and while his pitchers love having him in center field, the defensive metrics don't match the eye test. Pillar also turns 31 in January, although he said at the end of the season that he doesn't anticipate slowing down at all.  

"When I was in college and working towards getting to this moment, they used to say that baseball players enter their prime around 30 to 32, and I never forgot that," Pillar said. "I know the game statistically is getting younger, but to me age is just a number. I take care of myself, I eat the right foods, I believe in stretching and working hard and working out.

"I think it's no coincidence that at age 30 I'm having my best year."

Pillar's detailed pre-game routine had him on the field 161 times in 2019, and that's a big reason why the Giants are expected to agree to a deal with their center fielder, whether Monday or before a hearing in February. They might be rebuilding, but they still need to give fans a reason to show up next April, and Pillar was a big one in 2019. 

[RELATED: Giants weighing present vs. future with Pillar]

The other decisions don't involve nearly as much money, but they'll shed some light into what Zaidi and Scott Harris are planning. Alex Dickerson is projected to earn about $1.2 million, per MLB Trade Rumors, the same number the reliable site had for Donovan Solano.

Do Zaidi and Harris believe they can find cheaper, more flexible alternatives for the bench? 

Tyler Anderson, who the Giants picked up from the Rockies in early November, is projected at $2.6 million and a commitment that size would be a strong indication that Anderson is part of the 2020 rotation.

Joey Rickard ($1.1 million) is expected to be non-tendered and the Giants also have to make a call on pitcher Wandy Peralta, who is projected at just $800K but occupies a 40-man spot that may be more valuable if used on someone else later in the offseason. 

Buster Posey misses third Giants workout for personal reasons, per Gabe Kapler

Buster Posey misses third Giants workout for personal reasons, per Gabe Kapler

The Giants went through their sixth day of work at Oracle Park on Thursday. For the third time, the longtime franchise star was not in the building. 

Buster Posey again missed the workout Thursday for personal reasons and "is still working through some things," per manager Gabe Kapler. 

"Buster is still working through a personal issue, and I want to respect his privacy," Kapler said. 

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Posey reported to camp Saturday and spoke with reporters, admitting he still had some reservations about playing this season during the coronavirus pandemic. The Poseys have two young children and he noted he would pay attention to how things looked at camp but also around society in general. 

During an appearance on KNBR's "Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks," president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said earlier Thursday that the Giants would respect any decision Posey makes. 

"I think he's continuing to evaluate things on a day-to-day basis and frankly I think there's a few guys in that boat, certainly guys with young families, and certainly Buster is in that boat," Zaidi said. "It's something else to think about. I don't want to get into other personal things that he may be thinking through. Ultimately we're going to respect the decisions that our players make."

Posey isn't the only player mysteriously missing from camp. Center fielder Billy Hamilton and left-handed reliever Jarlin Garcia were both expected to be on the Opening Day roster, but neither has been seen and both were placed on the 10-day Injured List. Kapler has said a couple of times that he cannot reveal more information about the two. 

"That's all I can share on that front," he said Thursday after confirming they were on the IL for medical purposes.

Teams are not allowed to reveal any information related to COVID-19 tests if players do not give permission, although it's not totally clear what the situation is with Hamilton and Garcia. In Posey's case, the initial tests came back negative, and he was a full participant in workouts over the weekend. 

[RELATED: Giants' list of prospects in camp has many intriguing names]

Like Zaidi, Kapler reiterated that the Giants will back any decision Posey makes, regardless of what that means for a team that currently doesn't have a clear favorite to even back up Posey. Rob Brantly and Tyler Heineman are fighting for that job

"Because of what we're up against right now, we're going to take a family-first approach to this," he said. "We will take it on as a responsibility to scramble as necessary but we don't want to rush these personal decisions and we want to respect and honor the stresses that people have that we may not be seeing."

Giants' tentative 2021 MLB schedule includes odd Opening Day quirk

Giants' tentative 2021 MLB schedule includes odd Opening Day quirk

Have you fully digested the 2020 MLB schedule that was released on Monday? Good, because here comes the 2021 schedule! 

MLB released full schedules for next season, and the Giants once again open on the road, but this time in unfamiliar territory. For the first time in club history, the Giants will begin the season in an interleague park with a series in Seattle starting April 1. The Giants play their home opener April 9 against the Rockies. Here's the full schedule:

This will be the 12th consecutive season that the Giants open on the road, something they generally ask for so that they can finish the season at home and have more dates at Oracle Park when kids are out of school over the summer. They will begin the 2020 season in Los Angeles in two weeks (maybe).

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

The 2020 season kept teams in their own region as much as possible, which means that the Giants will play the AL West two consecutive years. They were supposed to play the AL Central this season. The Giants will visit the Texas Rangers' new park next June and also have road series in Anaheim and Oakland, in addition to that opener in Seattle. The schedule includes the usual slate of trips to New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, etc., so MLB is at least planning for the likelihood that society and travel are a bit more back to normal next year. 

If fans are allowed back into Oracle Park, there are a few series that stand out. 

[RELATED: Everything to know about the MLB season restart, Giants]

Mike Trout and the Angels visit May 31, Madison Bumgarner's Diamondbacks come for the first time on June 14, and the Houston Astros visit July 31 if you have a lot of pent-up booing you would like to do at some point in 2021.