Giants

Giants let go of nearly half of pro scouts as internal shuffling begins

Giants let go of nearly half of pro scouts as internal shuffling begins

SAN FRANCISCO -- For months, people throughout the Giants organization have expected sweeping changes once the final game is played. The first wave came a bit early. 

On Tuesday, the Giants let go of eight members of their pro scouting staff while informing 12 others that they will be kept on, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said. Brian Johnson, who hit a memorable homer in 1997 and later proved crucial with advance work during World Series runs, was among those let go. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the others are Steve Balboni, Darren Wittke, Matt Nerland, Tim Rock, Glen Tufts, Bob Mariano and Andy Skeels, who managed members of the current core when he was in San Jose. 

"It's a good group of people that have made contributions to this organization over, in some cases, long periods of time and been part of some big moments in Giants history on the field," Zaidi said. "It's obviously sad in that respect, but obviously we're really appreciative of their contributions over that time and we wish those guys the best." 

The Giants had one of the larger pro scouting staffs in the big leagues, but the trend throughout the game in recent years has been to rely more heavily on video work. Zaidi said the Giants will replace some of the fired scouts, but he wasn't sure how many of the spots the organization will fill. 

The Giants already have beefed up their video and analytics staff and much of the traditional "advance scouting" work can now be done by watching clips rather than having a scout in-stadium. They now have two members of the front office traveling with the team and giving data to coaches and players before every game. Zaidi said that it's becoming more and more important to dedicate scouting resources to the low levels of the minor leagues, all the way down to the Dominican Summer League and rookie ball.

"Obviously there's a huge benefit to being in ballparks and the chatter that you hear and getting to watch BP and things that you may pick up," Zaidi said. "But if you're evaluating a pitcher who is on waivers, do you go back to a spring training report or a report from June, or are you going to watch the last 10 innings that he's thrown? 

"Ideally, you have a scout or somebody with pitching expertise doing that evaluation. It's still important in a way to have that expertise and people that, when they lay eyes on a player, whether it's in person or on video, can make that assessment. But maybe some of the mechanics of how the job is done are changing."

[RELATED: How Giants recently have lost nearly all of their bullpen]

The Giants are also assessing their amateur scouting department and front office. Nearly everyone in the organization has contracts that go through just the 2019 season, so changes have long been expected. 

Giants' Gabe Kapler hasn't spoken with free agent Madison Bumgarner

Giants' Gabe Kapler hasn't spoken with free agent Madison Bumgarner

Giants manager Gabe Kapler has dealt with a lot during his first few weeks in office, from constantly addressing and explaining a controversy stemming from his time with the Dodgers to navigating being the replacement for a three-time World Series champion in Bruce Bochy.

But as the MLB offseason and free agency have opened up, Kapler and Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi have a lot of choices to make on which players to re-sign and which new players to bring in.

One player that Kapler hasn’t spoken to is former All-Star pitcher and current free agent Madison Bumgarner.

“I have not talked to MadBum yet,” Kapler said Thursday on 95.7 The Game. “And I’m very interested to see how that all plays out.” 

“I know that he’s out there exploring and I completely understand his perspective on that.”

Bumgarner reportedly has drawn interest from numerous teams in free agency, and for good reason.

After back-to-back seasons marred by injury and inconsistency, Bumgarner improved in 2019, leading the NL in games started with 34, and struck out over 200 batters.

When asked if he expects to have MadBum as his opening day starter, Kapler deflected and explained that there are a lot more decisions to be made before that day rolls around.

[RELATED: Zaidi hints at how Giants will handle Pillar contract decision]

“I’m pretty, I’m pretty focused — before we get to the roster, I know that Farhan Zaidi and Scott Harris, our president of baseball ops and GM, are both making very difficult decisions right now.

“They’re deciding what our roster is going to look like. Obviously, that’s a very collaborative process. We’re having conversations every day, but right now we’re focused on building a really good coaching staff. And, I believe, I trust that our roster will be strong at the end of the day.”

MLB free agency: Should Giants explore Anthony Rendon this offseason?

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USATSI

MLB free agency: Should Giants explore Anthony Rendon this offseason?

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Nationals are World Series champions, but for the second straight offseason, they face a hell of a dilemma. Like Bryce Harper before him, Anthony Rendon is the top hitter on the free-agent market, and the Nationals could find that they're outbid and lose a second superstar. 

Rendon has quietly been one of the most valuable players in baseball over the past four years, and he finally got the attention he deserves as the Nationals stunned the NL field and then the Astros. Rendon repeatedly swung games in the late innings, further bolstering what was already going to be a very, very strong case to suitors:

Depending on your preferences, he is either the top player on the market or 1A to Gerrit Cole. We looked at Cole and the Giants yesterday. Today, we look at the case for chasing Rendon. It might seem farfetched, but the Giants went after Harper a year ago, and Rendon is actually the better player. 

Pros

No, seriously, Harper got all the attention but Rendon was the best Nationals hitter in recent years. He batted .319 last season with a .412 on-base percentage, .598 slugging percentage and a WRC+ of 154 that trailed just Christian Yelich and Cody Bellinger in the National League. 

Rendon finished behind only those two in the MVP race and ranked seventh in the Majors with a 7.0 fWAR. Over the last four seasons, Rendon trails just Mike Trout, Yelich and Mookie Betts in FanGraphs' version of WAR. 

There's absolutely no doubt about his talent, but what about the fit? The Giants have Evan Longoria locked in at third but could move pieces around for the right hitter. They tried to swap Longoria's salary for similarly-paid outfielders last offseason and could go down that path again. Or they could move him to first and trade Brandon Belt. 

Rendon might not be as famous as a Harper or Manny Machado but he's absolutely the type of player you get creative for, and he's exactly the type of hitter the Giants need. This is still a lineup that has too many wasted at-bats, and Rendon's patience and simple approach would fit well as the Giants work in their next generation of potential cornerstones. 

Cons

This is where we usually go, "Well, the money is going to be insane." But the Giants went down this same path with Scott Boras last year, so the real question is, "Why would a Rendon chase be different than the Harper one?"

First, there's the age. Rendon turns 30 next summer and his defense already is starting to slip a bit. The Giants were ready to pay for Harper's late 20s with the knowledge that they could always slide him over to left field as he slowed down. It's a bit trickier when you're talking about a 29-year-old infielder. 

Second, as mentioned yesterday with Cole, there was a business side to the Harper conversations that wouldn't be there with Rendon. He is not one who seeks the spotlight and the word around the game is that he's not the face-of-the-franchise type. That matters when you're talking about $300 million deals. 

While the Giants could clear a spot for Rendon, it's not the cleanest fit because Longoria was one of their better hitters last year and the holes elsewhere are much larger. That's a lot of shuffling for a roster that's at least a year away from contention. 

[RELATED: Would Gerrit Cole be right for Giants?]

The Giants went after Harper nine months ago thinking that he could be their cornerstone moving forward but also help an aging core in 2019. It turns out there was nothing that could have made that group competitive, so they'll be better off taking a step back this offseason when it comes to the market's top hitter. This upcoming season will again be about building and transitioning. 

They should probably still make the phone call, though. While most around the game think Rendon will end up back in Washington D.C., the Dodgers are looming and could easily move Justin Turner across the diamond. At the very least, getting involved with Rendon would raise the price for rivals.