SAN FRANCISCO -- Nine months ago, Larry Baer, Farhan Zaidi and Bruce Bochy hopped on a flight to Las Vegas to meet with Bryce Harper. A lot has changed since then.
The Giants knew Bochy's time as manager was coming to an end, but they could not have predicted the way their management structure would change before the end of 2019.
On Thursday, MLB announced that Greg Johnson has been approved as the club's control person, and the Giants simultaneously announced that Rob Dean will now be their vice chairman. Each MLB club has a designated control person who is accountable to the league.
Dean had previously served as interim control person after taking over for Baer, who was suspended through July 1. Johnson and Dean now will serve as managing members and Baer and Zaidi, the president of baseball operations, will report to them. Johnson, Dean and Baer will represent the Giants at MLB's owners' meetings.
Got it all?
[RELATED: Zaidi hints at how Giants will handle Pillar contract decision]
Johnson is the son of Charles Johnson, who owns nearly a third of the team, more than any other individual or group. Greg Johnson is chairman and CEO of Franklin Templeton Investments.
The Johnson family has been part of the ownership group since 1993.
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.
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.