Giants

Giants' Joey Bart projected to be top-10 MLB prospect by end of 2020

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Ali Thanawalla

Giants' Joey Bart projected to be top-10 MLB prospect by end of 2020

For the first time in a long time, the Giants have several prospects in their system that have the potential to be game-changing players.

At the moment, 2018 first-round draft pick Joey Bart is the best of them all.

The 22-year-old catcher started the year at High-A San Jose and earned a late-season promotion to Double-A Richmond. Between the two levels, Bart slashed .278/.328/.495. He hit 16 homers and drove in 48 runs in 79 games.

It was a successful first season for the Giants' top prospect, and MLB Pipeline currently has Bart ranked as the No. 19 prospect in all of baseball.

So, where will Bart rank on that list next September?

MLB.com's Jim Callis predicted the top 10 prospects a year from now, and he has Bart jumping all the way to No. 6 on the list.

"He has the plus power and arm strength teams desire in a catcher and his receiving continues to improve, though San Francisco having Buster Posey and Brandon Belt signed through 2021 may delay his ETA," Callis wrote.

Bart will likely start the 2020 season with Richmond but could earn a quick promotion to Triple-A Sacramento if he gets off to a hot start.

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With Posey and Belt entrenched in San Francisco, the Giants don't need to rush Bart. They can continue to let him work on his craft in the upper levels of the minors.

The Giants are hoping that Bart, Heliot Ramos, Hunter Bishop, Marco Luciano and Sean Hjelle can form the next great core.

It'll be a few years before we find out, but so far, things are looking good down on the farm.

MLB rumors: Giants have checked in with Marcell Ozuna representatives

MLB rumors: Giants have checked in with Marcell Ozuna representatives

The Giants finally gave fans a reason to be excited about their outfielders last season after years of disappointment.

They found a diamond in the rough with Mike Yastrzemski, and Kevin Pillar is expected back next year after knocking 21 homers and bringing defensive highlights every night. And yet, the outfield still has question marks. 

It's unclear this early in free agency if new general manager Scott Harris will explore adding a veteran bat to the mix, however, the Giants reportedly have eyed one of the bigger names on the open market. 

MLB Network's Jon Morosi reported Wednesday night that the Giants "have at least checked in with the representatives" for free agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna. This isn't the first time the Giants have been tied to Ozuna this offseason, either. 

Earlier this month, MLB Trade Rumors predicted Ozuna to sign a three-year, $45 million contract. His age -- he turned 29 years old two days ago -- and power (29 homers in 2019) make plenty of sense for the Giants to explore. 

[RELATED: How Smith signing with Braves affects the Giants' bullpen]

Ozuna was handed a qualifying offer from the Cardinals going into this offseason, and declined it on Thursday. Any team that signs Ozuna would lose a draft pick next June, but not their first-round pick. However, the Giants will gain a draft pick from the Braves signing Will Smith, and the same goes for any team that signs Madison Bumgarner

Since 2014, Ozuna has averaged 24 homers per season. He easily would be the Giants biggest power threat right away, something San Francisco has lacked for years. 

MLB free agency: Madison Bumgarner turns down Giants' qualifying offer

MLB free agency: Madison Bumgarner turns down Giants' qualifying offer

SAN FRANCISCO -- As the trade deadline approached and the 2019 Giants started to get a little frisky on the field, there was some talk around the game that Madison Bumgarner would be better off getting traded regardless of what the team's record was, eliminating the chance that he would be saddled with a qualifying offer. 

Asked about that possibility, Bumgarner gave the kind of look you would expect to be reserved for Joe West. He was never concerned about a diminished market or sitting out half a season like Dallas Keuchel. Bumgarner has always believed the right options will be there in free agency, and now he'll get to test them out. 

Bumgarner officially declined the $17.8 million qualifying offer from the Giants on Thursday, joining eight of the 10 big leaguers who had a decision to make. The Twins' Jake Odorizzi and White Sox Jose Abreu decided to take the money upfront and try again in free agency next year. 

Bumgarner's agents have already spoken to interested teams, and they know what's out there. The left-hander does not plan to pull a Keuchel, and there's already reported interest from the likes of the Yankees, Padres and Phillies. The Braves, who signed Will Smith on Thursday, are also expected to make a run at Bumgarner, who is from nearby North Carolina. 

[RELATED: How Smith signing with Braves affects Giants' bullpen]

Then there are the Giants, who would recoup two top 100 draft picks if Bumgarner joins Will Smith in leaving the organization. Management has kept quiet about the offseason intentions, but there's a chance that Bumgarner circles back at some point over the next month to see if a deal can be struck. He has shown interest in coming back to San Francisco, but he's also eager to see what's out there in free agency.