Giants notes: New coaches were right fit; latest on Bumgarner

Giants notes: New coaches were right fit; latest on Bumgarner

PHOENIX — The first significant on-field changes for the Giants actually happened before free agency started. Phil Nevin and Jose Alguacil were added to the staff as base coaches, and at the GM Meetings on Tuesday, Bobby Evans shed light on what made each an ideal choice. 

Alguacil, who will coach first, has been a rising star in the organization for several years. Evans said the front office has actually viewed Alguacil as a strong coaching candidate since his playing days. Alguacil was an infielder in the system from 1993 to 1998 and was offered a coaching position when that period came to an end. He chose to continue playing elsewhere, but his minor league career lasted just three more seasons. 

“When he was let go (as a player) we grabbed him as quickly as we could and added him to our system,” Evans said. 

Alguacil was a roving instructor in the minors for eight seasons, working closely with big league bench coach Ron Wotus during his visits to big league camp. In 2015 he took over as manager at Double-A Richmond, the first sign that the front office had a big role in mind. He spent last years managing the Triple-A club. 

“He’s a very committed baseball man and understands the game and how to teach the game,” Evans said. “He has a lot of enthusiasm for the players and I think they sense that he’s behind them.”

Alguacil, known throughout the organization as “Agui,” was also in consideration to take over at third base after Roberto Kelly was let go, but the front office viewed first base as “a good first step.”

“This was really the next step for the development of his career, to get on the Major League staff,” Evans said.

The third base job went to Nevin, a longtime big leaguer who came close to getting a bigger role elsewhere. Nevin came from the Diamondbacks, where he was the Triple-A manager. Evans offered him the third base job but had to wait and see how the Diamondbacks’ managerial search played out. Nevin was the runner-up to Torey Lovullo.

“He’s someone that came highly regarded into the interview process, and as we met with him we could see a lot of the things that a lot of clubs like about him from a managing perspective,” Evans said. “This was a good opportunity to bring him up here.”

Nevin got a strong recommendation from Bruce Bochy, who managed Nevin when he played for the Padres. 

--- From earlier today, here’s my story on the search for a closer. There’s more coming from Phoenix, both in written and podcast form. If you’re not subscribing already, here’s where you can find the podcast. 

--- I attended an Arizona Fall League game last night to see some Giants prospects. Three of them — Hunter Cole, Aramis Garcia and Ryder Jones — were in the lineup. At one point, all three reached to load the bases for a man named Tim Tebow. He flied out. All the reports about him are true, by the way — not a prospect. 

Jones had three hits, Garcia had two, and Cole had one. You can see Garcia drive Jones in here. Where they really impressed, though, was on defense. Cole showed off a very strong arm in right field and Garcia, a catcher, made two perfect throws to second to catch base stealers. Jones has mostly played third in his career, but he looked like a natural at first, with several slick scoops and a diving stop. It should be noted, given what the big league roster looks like, that he’s playing some left field this fall. 

--- There was a lot of talk about a Madison Bumgarner extension in the days after the season ended, but Giants officials later insisted that it was overblown. They had simply touched base with Bumgarner’s agents to keep the lines of communication open. Evans said Tuesday that there have been no negotations in recent weeks. 

“At the right time, we’ll address it with him,” Evans said of a new deal. “We’re open to timing that feels right for both sides. We’re in the middle of free agency right now and looking at trade options, and we’re focused on next year’s club. It’s probably hard to see us wrapping our head around (an extension) right now.”

There’s no rush for either side. Bumgarner is under team control through 2019.

Manny Machado doesn't fit with Giants even if they clear infield space

Manny Machado doesn't fit with Giants even if they clear infield space

SAN FRANCISCO -- Around the country, MLB executives currently are having the debate. Is Manny Machado worth $300 million? Is he a better bet than Bryce Harper? Should we be wary of a player who had a postseason filled with questionable decisions, and openly admits that he isn't big on hustling?

The Giants won't have any of these discussions. 

They are one of the few big-market organizations out on Machado -- the star shortstop/third baseman -- from the start, and not because of financial concerns. 

Machado's preference is to play shortstop, and the Giants have a homegrown three-time Gold Glove Award winner who is signed through 2021 and is one of the franchise's cornerstones. Oh, and just in case you were tempted to try and get creative, Brandon Crawford has a full no-trade clause.

Machado probably should move back to third, where he was one of the best defensive talents the game has seen. At shortstop, he was simply passable, according to metrics and scouts. Even at third base, though, he is blocked in San Francisco. Evan Longoria had a down year, but he is signed through 2022, and that contract wouldn't be easy to move.

It's here that we should stop and acknowledge the most interesting part of the Machado/Giants conversation. He isn't a fit, but when the Giants hired Farhan Zaidi away from the Dodgers, multiple people familiar with his past work noted that one of his first orders of business will be to try and get out from under some contracts. One predicted outright that he will find a way to ultimately trade Longoria's contract. The more likely targets early on will be Brandon Belt and Jeff Samardzija, if the latter can prove he's healthy.

Sound unlikely? The Dodgers swapped bad salaries with the Braves a year ago and managed to stumble upon an All-Star season from Matt Kemp in the process. 

None of this makes Machado any more likely to wear orange and black. If Zaidi, who saw Machado firsthand last season, is able to find takers for some big contracts, he won't turn around and hand another player $300 million. He'll look for breathing room and flexibility. 

Machado will take up the biggest chunk of some team's budget, but even if the Giants had an open spot on their infield, Zaidi likely would back away. Don't forget what he said about the Giants' roster construction on the day he was introduced.

"The No. 1 thing that stands out to me is the importance of selfless play in baseball," he said. "We're in a baseball culture at an amateur level where there's a little bit of a showcase culture and a lot of emphasis on individual performance over the team. I think when you can create a culture where players put team over the individual, that can be a competitive advantage."

Editor's note: This week across the NBC Sports Regional Networks, we'll be taking an in-depth look at some of the top free agents in baseball. Wednesday is dedicated to free agent infielder Manny Machado.
Why Machado's not worth it for the A's
Would Machado fit with rebuilding White Sox? 
Machado's talent worth betting on for Phillies
Yankees signing Machado would put pressure on Red Sox

MLB free agency debate: Where will Michael Brantley sign this offseason?

MLB free agency debate: Where will Michael Brantley sign this offseason?

Editor's note: Each day this week, Giants insider Alex Pavlovic and A's reporter Ben Ross will debate where one of the top five free agents might land this offseason. Tuesday's free agent to discuss is Michael Brantley, an three-time All-Star outfielder who has spent his entire career with the Cleveland Indians.

ALEX: Ben, yesterday we went right to the top of the market and discussed Bryce Harper. If you're looking for outfield help -- and a lot of teams are -- it gets kind of sketchy after Harper.

Andrew McCutchen still is a good player, but he's no longer an MVP candidate. A.J. Pollock has had a ton of injury issues. Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and others are really getting up there in age. But I'm intrigued by Michael Brantley, who has never really lived up to the hype because of his own injuries. If you're looking for a guy who has a moderate amount of pop and gets on base at a high rate -- hellooooo, Giants -- he could be your guy.

BEN: He might be a great fit for the Giants, but the A’s already have enough outfielders, for a fraction of the cost. What have you heard about the Giants’ interest in Brantley? Where else do you think he could end up?

ALEX: I haven't heard anything concrete regarding their interest, but I think he's an interesting case. On one hand, they've been burned over and over again by giving money to position players -- particularly outfielders -- in their 30s. But they also have two corner outfield spots open and desperately need established hitters.

Brantley, who has always been a good OBP guy, would fit in that respect. Perhaps Farhan Zaidi can pull a Chris Taylor or Max Muncy out of another organization, but if Brantley's price drops, he could be a fill-in for a couple of seasons.

I wonder if he'll end up with a team that missed out on Harper and still has that need. The Phillies could fit there. The Braves have been a rumored destination. Maybe the White Sox? Who am I missing?

BEN: I think he makes a lot of sense in San Francisco. As you mentioned, he has a great career OBP with decent power and speed. It looks like he'll probably get around $15 million per year, which is reasonable for a back-to-back All-Star.

I think the Phillies and Braves both make a lot of sense, especially if Philadelphia doesn't land Bryce Harper. Maybe the Nationals if Harper leaves? He also could be a nice A.J. Pollock replacement in Arizona, although Pollock plays center. How about the Rockies? Both Carlos Gonzalez and Gerardo Parra are free agents.

ALEX: It sounds like the Diamondbacks are rebuilding, and I think the Rockies need to spend that money elsewhere. This feels like a #MysteryTeam situation, but in the end, I'll go with a safe prediction.

I think Brantley ends up with the Braves as a Nick Markakis replacement, but the twist will be that it'll be a shorter deal. I don't believe the talk that last year's free agency dip was a one-year thing. I think the second tier of veterans again will struggle to get those long-term deals, so I'll put Brantley down for a two-year, $32 million deal. What's your call?

BEN: It sounds like the Braves are pushing hard for Brantley, so they're my prediction, too. As you said, they need a Markakis replacement. Brantley played his college ball at Coastal Carolina University, which isn't too far from Atlanta. While he's been a bit injury-prone, he's still just 31 years old. I'll say he gets three years, $45 million.

Editor's note: This week across the NBC Sports Regional Networks, we'll be taking an in-depth look at some of the top free agents in baseball. Tuesday is dedicated to free agent outfielder Michael Brantley.
How Brantley could help solve one of the Giants' biggest issues
Why the outfielder-rich A's should pass on Brantley
Does Brantley really fit the White Sox's long-term plan?
Brantley should be far down on Red Sox's free agent list
Phillies should pursue Brantley if they whiff on Harper
Could signing Brantley soften blow of Nats losing Harper?