Giants Q&A: Is real rebuild actually a full year away?


Giants Q&A: Is real rebuild actually a full year away?

SAN FRANCISCO -- Unless you were searching for news on former Giants like Kelby Tomlinson and Tommy Joseph, it's been a slow couple of weeks.

But there are still interesting rumors and concepts to discuss, and earlier this week I went through a few of them in Part I of this Twitter Mailbag. Here are a few more questions to keep things churning while we all wait for somebody to do something ... 

Thanks to all the people who reached out with questions. If you have your own, you can ask me on Twitter here, and if you want some expanded discussion on the offseason, Ahmed Fareed and I went over a few things on the latest episode of the Giants Insider Podcast. 

“Are @SFGiants actually a whole year away from a potential rebuild? Appears Zaidi won’t hire a GM and probably (will) go with a different manager in 2020 and start rebuild. Thoughts?” @chris_pace707

It likely is too late at this point for Farhan Zaidi to hire his preferred GM candidate, but Jeremy Shelley, Yeshayah Goldfarb and others are more than capable of handling those responsibilities for a year.

I do think the Giants are a year away from Zaidi picking his own manager, but that doesn’t mean that’s the official start of the rebuild. This ownership group will never sign off on a full rebuild. Zaidi’s task is to revamp the roster, day by day, and make incremental gains.

My guess is he’ll try to shed some salary, find a couple of Chris Taylor-Max Muncy hidden gem types, and upgrade as much of the back end of the 40-man as he can. 

In a year perhaps the Giants will be in a better position to make big moves. This will never be the type of “we’re starting over” situation you’ve seen in Philadelphia, Houston, etc. 

“Farhan Zaidi reportedly twice tried to trade for Bryce Harper when he was part of the Dodgers front office, and their proposals were rejected by the Nationals. How does his hiring affect the Giants trying to pursue Harper in free agency?” — @mrarmchair 

I liked this question because it provided a rare, fresh angle on the Bryce Harper discussion. But I don’t think that history changes the current math at all.

The Dodgers reportedly claimed Harper before the waiver deadline in August, and according to Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times, they offered Yasiel Puig in a deal. But there’s a big difference between then and now. Late in the summer, the Dodgers would have only owed Harper $3-4 million for the remainder of the season.

At this point, a new team will pay Harper $300-400 million. I don’t think anything has happened over the past few weeks to change what the Giants were thinking when they hired Zaidi, which was that Harper was a longshot. 

“What do you think Buster told Zaidi? Think he supported keeping MadBum?” — @j0yz

I’ve never seen Buster Posey checking his fantasy football scores, so the first conversation was probably different than the one Zaidi had with Brandon Crawford.

Posey and Madison Bumgarner are very close and I’m sure they’d like to stay together, but I’d imagine Posey told Zaidi to do whatever it takes to get the Giants back to contention. He’s desperate to win again — he was ready to play through hip pain all September if the Giants were even sniffing a playoff spot.

Posey also really isn’t one to sugarcoat things, so he likely gave Zaidi a very honest assessment of the pitching staff and may have helped him decide if any of the young starters or veteran relievers are sell-high candidates. 

“Do you think MadBum is getting traded?” — @trevavilla 

On the day Zaidi was hired, I thought yes. But a few weeks later, I do think it’ll be difficult for the Giants to get the kind of package that would make them trade a franchise pillar. My best guess at this point is that the Giants hold Bumgarner through the first half and evaluate before the trade deadline.

[RELATED: How Zaidi will increase Giants depth]

Their best shot at a big return is Bumgarner having a strong first half and a contender thinking he’s the piece that will put them over the top in October. I know a lot of stories recently have downplayed that success, but I still think it will sway some other front offices. Yes, 2014 was a long time ago, but his 2016 Wild Card performance isn’t that far in the rearview mirror. 

“What’s the goal for Steven Duggar? Expectations, mostly with the bat? Is it better than Crawford’s was? Could the gap power get even better?” — @StevenRissotto

Last spring, I wrote about how Duggar could be the next Crawford: A glove-first player who eventually worked his way up the lineup and turned into a pretty good hitter.

The Giants still believe that potential is there, in large part because of the way Duggar made adjustments once he was called up. Crawford did the same over time.

Will Duggar ever hit 21 homers, as Crawford did in 2015? I’m not sure he’s that type of player, but Crawford also had a pair of double-digit triples seasons and piles up the doubles when he’s going right. I think Duggar will be that kind of hitter, and if he plays every day next season, I expect him to cruise into third quite often. 


I’ve gotten a lot of Paul Goldschmidt questions, and I do understand the desire to add a player who hits approximately 17 homers against Giants pitching each season. But there are a lot of issues here.

The Giants have a well-paid first baseman and they’re not in a situation where they should be trading prospects for a one-year rental. Most importantly, can you imagine Diamondbacks ownership signing off on trading the franchise’s most important player to a division rival?

I can’t.

Giants building MLB's next elite farm system right now, Keith Law says


Giants building MLB's next elite farm system right now, Keith Law says

Prior to the cancelation of spring training due to the coronavirus pandemic, some Giants top prospects were opening eyes in Scottsdale. 

For the second straight year, Joey Bart proved once again he has all the skills to be a star in the near future. The Giants' top prospect hit .438 with two homers and a 1.401 OPS in nine games with the big league club. He wasn't the only young prospect impressing the coaching staff, too. 

Hunter Bishop, San Francisco's top pick from the 2019 MLB Draft, only had one hit in eight at-bats in major league camp but manager Gabe Kapler saw shades of Bryce Harper in the powerful outfielder. 

"I thought that Hunter Bishop coming over made a really good impression on all of us," Kapler said Monday on KNBR's "Tolbert, Krueger, & Brooks." "And he's a first-round pick, he's got the pedigree, he's got the power. I thought about his swing and it's so violent, very similar to the way Bryce Harper is. Harper's is violent.

"By the way, I'm not comparing Hunter to Bryce Harper," Kapler continued. "What I am saying is there's some similarities in their personality, and their hustle and the way they play the game like their hair's on fire. So, Hunter made a really strong impression."

The Athletic's Keith Law is impressed, too. 

Here's what Law was asked in his "Klawchat" on March 26: "Who is the next team on the way to building an elite farm system?"

Law had one word to answer the question: "Giants." 

The Giants landed at No. 10 in Law's preseason farm system rankings at the beginning of March. But he isn't super high on any of San Francisco's top prospects. It's more about the entirety of the system. 

"I feel like the whole exceeds the sum of the parts here," Law wrote about the Giants' farm system in March. "Each individual Giants prospect of note has some significant risk of low or no return, but if you add them all up, there’s more than enough upside to start to feel optimistic about the Giants’ long-term future." 

[RELATED: These three Giants stood out to Kapler in spring training]

Bart (No. 44) and Bishop (No. 87) are joined by Heliot Ramos (No. 52) and Marco Luciano (No. 58) on Law's top 100. The Giants also signed an exciting 17-year-old shortstop last month, Javier Alexander Francisco Estrella, who already has been compared to young San Diego Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr.

While fans will have to wait to see these young players, there are plenty of reasons of optimism in San Francisco right now.

Darren Baker, Dusty's son, donates 100 meals for coronavirus relief


Darren Baker, Dusty's son, donates 100 meals for coronavirus relief

Dusty Baker always has been one of the most respected people in baseball, both on and off the field. His son, Darren, already is following in his footsteps. 

Darren, a second baseman at Cal, announced Tuesday that he donated 100 meals to Feeding America in order to help families who are struggling financially during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Darren first became famous at just 3 years old in Game 5 of the 2002 World Series when J.T. Snow swooped up the young bat boy at home plate after scoring on a Kenny Lofton triple to give San Francisco a 10-4 lead over the Anaheim Angels. Now 21, he stars for the Cal baseball team. 

Baker hit .306 and was a perfect 21-for-21 on stolen base attempts as a sophomore when he made the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team. He started off slow this year, but finished his junior season batting .286 before Cal's season was canceled after only 16 games. Before the season ended, though, he did lead Cal in hits (18) and runs scored (15). 

Going into his junior season, many saw Baker as a rising draft prospect. He really impressed at the plate this summer in the Cape Cod League, is one of the best defensive infielders in the country and his speed can change games. Even more important, he's a leader as displayed with his latest act of kindness. 

[RELATED: Darren Baker writes his own story at Cal after early fame]

"He’s a big-time leader," Cal manager Mike Neu said to NBC Sports Bay Area in February. "Obviously his playing experience here, his background with who he’s learned from -- not just his dad but the big leaguers he’s been around, I mean it just automatically gives him so much of a foundation for him and for our whole team.

"He’s a leader and he’s been great in that role."