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."

Archie Bradley praises D-backs GM for Madison Bumgarner alter ego comments

Archie Bradley praises D-backs GM for Madison Bumgarner alter ego comments

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Nobody at the Diamondbacks' spring training facility had uttered the name "Madison Bumgarner," despite seeing him numerous times.

He would go by Mason Saunders for now. That's his alter ego after all -- the one he uses to win cash prizes at rodeo events.

The sports media world had a field day when the information on MadBum's alias surfaced, but D-backs general manager Mike Hazen had his back.

"Madison is a grown man and we know he's committed to helping us achieve our goals as a team," Hazen told media on Monday. 

Arizona pitcher Archie Bradley said that resonated with him as well.

"It's great. I personally have a lot of respect for Mike Hazen, but that was something I was actually talking to CC Sabathia yesterday," Bradley told NBC Sports Bay Area on Tuesday. "You're seeing this new wave where guys aren't afraid to showcase the other side of their life. I think there's kind of been this build of 'You just have to be a baseball player.' LeBron started with 'More Than an Athlete,' I think guys are kind of catching on."

He also loves the fact that MadBum is now on his team instead of facing him as much as he did during the NL West matchups when Bumgarner was on the Giants. It makes a huge impression on the 27-year-old.

"He just raises everyone's level of awareness and preparation," Bradley said. "When you win a World Series, that holds a lot of weight, it puts your name in bold font. You know, Madison Bumgarner is a big-time name, not only because of his talent level, but because of how he competes, but how he's won."

"When you add a guy like that who is very old school and very hard-nosed, you kind of perk up a little bit."

[RELATED: MadBum's young teammates ready to see what he's about]

Bradley said MadBum, after winning multiple World Series championships is bringing that mentality to his new team in Phoenix. 

"This is a guy that has not only done it but is vocalizing how he wants to do it here."

Giants prospect Hunter Bishop believes performance will be rewarded

Giants prospect Hunter Bishop believes performance will be rewarded

Joey Bart already displayed his power with an opposite-field homer on his first swing of the spring. Sean Hjelle gave us a glimpse of his potential with a 95 mph fastball

Both Giants prospects are in big league camp this spring, while others like Heliot Ramos and Hunter Bishop are not. On Tuesday, however, both young center fielders joined the big squad for a game against the Chicago White Sox. 

Bishop, the Giants' first-round pick in last year's draft, believes the front office won't shy away from calling young players up if they play well for their respective team. 

"I think it's been apparent to a lot of the minor leaguers that if you perform, you'll get rewarded," Bishop said to reporters before Tuesday's game. "People are gonna say they're not gonna worry about their performance, but I think everyone that's human does. If I can just take it day by day and at-bat by at-bat, then hopefully something good will turn out." 

Farhan Zaidi has echoed the same message for quite some time now. Bart and Ramos both made it to Double-A by the end of last season, and figure to have a shot at the bigs this season. 

Zaidi, the Giants' president of baseball operations, knows San Francisco is in a bit of a rebuild right now. That doesn't mean he will shy away from getting young stars to San Francisco

"Promoting guys aggressively and rewarding performance, rewarding guys addressing areas of weakness that have been pointed out to them as things that they need to address, that's a real positive," Zaidi said late last month on KNBR. "I expect us to continue on that path in 2020." 

Bishop, 21, played seven games in the Arizona Rookie League after the draft. He then joined the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes for 25 more in Class A Short Season. Between the two levels, he hit .229 with five homers and an .867 OPS. 

With his powerful swing and keep eye at the plate, Bishop could be a quick riser in the farm system. The former ASU Sun Devil needs to cut down his strikeouts, though, and that will be a big factor for him this year and beyond. As for where he starts the season, Bishop couldn't care less. 

[RELATED: These four Giants made Keith Law's top 100 prospects list]

"For me, whatever team I'm on -- help them win," Bishop said. "That's really all I can control. I can't control where I'm gonna go or what team I'm gonna make. If I can just worry about what I can do and help the team win, that's all I'm focused on for this season." 

The Bay Area native certainly has his eyes set on San Francisco. For now, he's looking to improve in all aspects of the game and end every day with a win.