Giants poised to take advantage with teams desperately shedding salary

Giants poised to take advantage with teams desperately shedding salary

SAN DIEGO -- There isn't actually a salary cap in baseball, but with teams acting like there is, Farhan Zaidi and Scott Harris have found an opportunity. 

The Giants traded for the remaining $12 million or so on Zack Cozart's contract on Tuesday afternoon and got rewarded with a prospect they thought about taking 10th overall in June. It was an interesting deal, the type you would normally see in the NBA, and Zaidi hinted that he could go back to that well. Asked if he had the financial flexibility to make another such deal, Zaidi nodded.

"Yeah, I don't think we're done," he said. "We're kind of weighing all kinds of different deals. We'll continue to evaluate those opportunities."

The Giants find themselves with this opportunity because, while there's no salary cap, teams will make poor baseball decisions to avoid the Competitive Balance Tax, which is at $208 million for the 2020 season. 

The Red Sox are eager to get under that line and have made big-money players available, potentially with a prospect or good young player being attached. There has been some industry speculation that they could pair 25-year-old outfielder Andrew Benintendi with a high-salaried starter, possibly David Price, who was Gabe Kapler's teammate in Tampa Bay.

The Cubs, Harris' old organization, are looking to cut back and reportedly have made former MVP Kris Bryant available. The Athletic reported Tuesday night that the Astros, looking to shed payroll, could trade Carlos Correa. The Yankees could attach prospects to some of their own veterans if they sign Gerrit Cole and want to clear payroll space.

This is still a relatively new concept for baseball, but it's not new to the Giants. They're just on the other side this time. Just 17 months ago, the Giants attached a prospect to Austin Jackson and Cory Gearrin in a deal with the Rangers that was made in order to dip under the CBT line, which they went over the previous three seasons. 

There no longer are payroll concerns, and Zaidi entered the Winter Meetings with somewhere in the range of $70 million in space before hitting the line. Even after dishing out nearly $22 million Tuesday to take on Cozart and sign Kevin Gausman, the Giants still have plenty of flexibility, and they're doing exactly what they should with it.

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There aren't many teams, period, that have an ownership group willing to take on big deals. The Giants are one of them, and they also are in a position where they desperately need prospects and younger players. That has created a perfect storm. 

"There are clearly teams out there that are looking to create financial flexibility -- it's been a very active market -- and I think for us we're trying to balance our competitive aspirations in 2020 with some of our long-term goals," Zaidi said. "The fact that there are teams searching for financial flexibility, obviously we've created some of that, it gives us different options like we've been talking about. I think today is an example of the types of moves we can make with that."

Dodgers getting Astros' titles still wouldn't match Giants' decade


Dodgers getting Astros' titles still wouldn't match Giants' decade

The outrage continues in Tinseltown.

As the fallout from the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal continues, many have called into question the Astros’ 2017 World Series title, a thrilling seven-game series victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

With the championship appearing to be tainted by Houston’s systematic tracking of pitching signals, the Los Angeles city council unanimously passed a resolution last week urging Major League Baseball to rescind the victory from the Astros and award it to the runner-up Dodgers. The resolution also included the 2018 World Series, which the Dodgers lost to the Boston Red Sox in five games. Boston remains under investigation for similar allegations.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred pushed back on the idea, pointing to the MLB’s history with not altering the past.

“Whatever the impact of the sign stealing was, it could have changed who was in the World Series,” Manfred said earlier this week on Fox Business’ “Mornings with Maria." “It’s absolutely unclear that the Dodgers would have been the World Series champion. I think there's a long tradition in baseball of not trying to change what happened. I think the answer from our perspective is to be transparent about what the investigation showed and let our fans make their own decision about what happened.”

Followers of the Giants’ archrival definitely made up their own minds, as they flocked to Dodgers FanFest on Saturday.

Pantone 294, one of the Dodgers’ fan groups, also has organized an outing to the Los Angeles Angels’ home opener against the Astros. The group’s website wants LA fans to flock to Anaheim and “support the team that's playing the game we all know and love the right way!”

Even if by Manfred pulled a complete 180 and decided to not only take away championships from both Houston and Boston, but award them to the Dodgers, they’d still have fewer rings than the Giants have won over the past 30 years.

Nothing got the fans in LA more fired up than watching the Giants bring home three World Series titles over a five-year stretch, firmly cementing them as the NL West's team of the decade.

We all know this isn’t emblematic of every Dodgers fan, as many have voiced their opinion that being awarded two championships doesn't mean anything after the fact, especially when everyone watched them get obliterated by the Red Sox in five games and only score one run in Game 7 against the Astros in 2017.

No matter how many signs might have been stolen, only scoring one run in a World Series game isn't going to get you a win in almost every situation.

Some players, including third baseman Justin Turner, made it clear they aren't interested in receiving a ring that doesn't feel earned.

Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling, however, is cheering on fans choosing to waste their time and money heckling Houston.

“I like it,” Stripling said (h/t Los Angeles Times). “The Dodger fans are fired up. If they want to do their part, and they think that is what it is, then kudos to them. Go do it.

“I know that they’re passionate, and they wanted a championship as much as we did. Obviously, they have still got some fire in their belly to go fight for us.”

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While the official punishments likely are over for the Astros, it appears they still will be living rent-free in many Dodger fans’ heads all season long.

Meanwhile, Giants fans can sit back and enjoy three, controversy-free World Series trophies residing inside Oracle Park.

MLB rumors: Former Giants GM Bobby Evans interviewed for Astros job

MLB rumors: Former Giants GM Bobby Evans interviewed for Astros job

A little over a year after he was fired, former Giants general manager Bobby Evans could land on his feet.

Evans interviewed for the open Houston Astros general manager position, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported Saturday, citing sources.

Evans spent four seasons as the general manager of the Giants before being reassigned within the organization at the end of the 2018 season. Including the 2019 season, Evans has spent the last 26 seasons in San Francisco.

The Astros are in need of a new GM and manager after Jeff Luhnow and AJ Hinch were fired in the fallout from the sign-stealing scandal that has rocked baseball in recent weeks.

Houston is tainted at the moment, but Evans would be inheriting a roster that still possesses the talent to compete for a World Series, with or without trash cans.

While serving as assistant general manager for the Giants, Evans helped lead to the team to World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014. But his tenure as GM wasn't as successful. A lot of the moves Evans made, including the signings of Mark Melancon, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Denard Span, didn't lead to the desired results.

[RELATED: Evans' dismissal hard on Giants players]

With Farhan Zaidi and Scott Harris at the helm of the Giants, it makes sense for Evans to consider outside opportunities, even if the Astros are the black eye of baseball.

Both Evans and the Astros need second chances, so this could be the perfect marriage if the two sides can come to an agreement.