Giants

Giants' Joey Bart showcased star potential in Arizona Fall League

Giants' Joey Bart showcased star potential in Arizona Fall League

Joey Bart entered the Arizona Fall League with one of the hottest bats in baseball, at any level. His stick stayed scorching hot in the desert, too, until an injury kept him out of the lineup. 

Bart, the Giants' top prospect, was named the Eastern League Player of the Week to end the regular season. He hit .538 with a homer, four doubles, a triple and six RBI in his final seven games of the regular season to end a 22-game stint in Double-A. 

Coming into the AFL, Bart had a chance to compare himself with some of the best young talent in all of baseball. All it took was one game to show the Giants could truly have a star in the near future. Bart went deep not once but twice in his Fall League debut. 

Before fracturing his hand for the second time this season when he was hit by a 96 mph fastball on his right thumb, Bart was perhaps the most impressive hitter in the desert. The No. 2 pick in the 2018 MLB Draft hit .333 with four homers and 10 RBI in 10 games. He had a .524 on-base percentage, .767 slugging percentage and an eye-popping 1.290 OPS. 

Despite missing nearly half the games, Bart led the Scottsdale Scorpions in homers and walks (nine) while finishing second in RBI. Before his injury, Bart won Player of the Week to open the league, was awarded the Championship Chains Hitter of the Week Award and was named to the Fall Stars Game.

Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi told NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic that Bart could start next season in Triple-A Sacramento. Zaidi also has expressed his desire for Bart to learn another position besides catcher. The AFL could have been the perfect time to experiment and add positional versatility to Bart's game, but that didn't happen due to his injury. 

Outside of Bart, however, Giants hitting prospects struggled in the Fall League. Fellow top prospect Heliot Ramos hit just .185 with one homer and no Giants prospect besides Bart hit over .200. 

[RELATED: How Giants' Webb learned on, off field during rookie season]

The only other bright spot for a handful of Giants prospects who continued their season in Arizona was pitcher Tristan Beck, who looks like a future big leaguer after being acquired from the Braves at the MLB trade deadline for Mark Melancon. Beck, a former Stanford standout, had a 3.63 ERA over six starts and struck out 23 batters in 22 1/3 innings. 

Bart was joined by four other top 100 prospects on his team alone in the AFL, along with former No. 1 overall draft pick Mickey Moniak. It didn't take long and it didn't end how he hoped, but Bart clearly stood out on quite the bright stage.

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.