Giants

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

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USATSI

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. 

Sources: Giants working to hire Justin Viele for Gabe Kapler's staff

Sources: Giants working to hire Justin Viele for Gabe Kapler's staff

SAN FRANCISCO -- For more than a decade, the staff in the Giants' dugout was as traditional as it gets, with longtime big league coaches serving under Bruce Bochy, who managed for 25 consecutive seasons. It appears the next staff will be the complete opposite.

The Giants have gone young and are working to bring in former Dodgers minor league hitting coach Justin Viele as one of their major league hitting coaches, multiple sources told NBC Sports Bay Area. Viele, 29, is expected to work with 33-year-old Donnie Ecker. While it's unclear what the hierarchy would be, the Giants have internally discussed the possibility of getting rid of traditional roles, and it's possible Ecker and Viele will work as a team instead of having one hitting coach and one assistant hitting coach. 

Viele served as hitting coach for the Low-A Great Lakes Loons in 2019 and the year before that was the hitting coach for the High-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, where he worked with top prospect Gavin Lux. Viele is from Southern California but has Bay Area ties, having played at Santa Clara University. He later worked on his alma mater's coaching staff before joining the Dodgers, where he worked with Farhan Zaidi and Gabe Kapler. 

Like Ecker, who is coming over from the Reds, Viele has limited professional playing experience. He was drafted as a middle infielder and played 126 minor league games for the Orioles, a stint that made him a teammate of current Giants standout Mike Yastrzemski.

[RELATED: What to watch for at Winter Meetings]

It appears Viele will now serve as one of Yastrzemski's hitting coaches, continuing a trend for the Giants, who are trying to bring in younger coaches well-versed in analytics, biomechanics and player development. The Giants are expected to announce their staff early this week at the annual Winter Meetings, with Viele possibly joining Ecker and Brian Bannister, the 38-year-old Director of Pitching. Ron Wotus is the lone member of Bochy's staff who will work on Gabe Kapler's staff. 

MLB rumors: Yankees offer Gerrit Cole record seven-year, $245M contract

MLB rumors: Yankees offer Gerrit Cole record seven-year, $245M contract

Gerrit Cole is going to get paid. Everyone knew that headed into this offseason, but now we know the benchmark for his payday. 

The New York Times' Bob Klapisch reported Sunday that the Yankees offered the superstar pitcher a record-breaking, seven-year, $245 million contract. Those figures would surpass David Price's $217 million deal, and Zack Greinke's average annual value of $34.4 million per year. 

While Giants fans surely would love to see Cole pitching in San Francisco, it should be seen as a win if he does wind up in pinstripes. Cole, a Southern California native who just happens to be Brandon Crawford's brother-in-law, reportedly is being courted by the Dodgers and Angels as well. 

The Giants last faced Cole on May 22, 2018. The right-hander struck out eight batters over six innings in an 11-2 Astros win in Houston. In seven starts, Cole is 5-1 with a 3.15 ERA against the Giants. 

It's safe to say, the last thing San Francisco's front office wants to see is the 29-year-old returning to the NL to be a Dodger. The fewer times you face Cole in a season, the better. 

Cole taking his talents to the Bronx certainly would be a welcome sight for the A's, too. Sure, he still would be in the AL, but it definitely beats having him in the same division. 

[RELATED: What to watch for as Giants head to MLB Winter Meetings]

Oakland faced Cole twice last season, and he was brilliant in both starts, allowing only three earned runs over 13 innings to go with 15 strikeouts. He is 4-1 with a 3.08 ERA and 65 strikeouts over 50 2/3 innings in eight career starts against the A's. 

As Shohei Ohtani returns to the mound in 2020, the A's will have their hands full when they face the Angels. Adding Cole could be a disgusting cherry on top.