Giants remain confident in young outfield, but Farhan Zaidi wants more

Giants remain confident in young outfield, but Farhan Zaidi wants more

SAN FRANCISCO — Bruce Bochy sat in a room with Bryce Harper earlier this week, but when the Giants manager settles into his office at Scottsdale Stadium next week, that won’t matter. 

There could be a stunner over the next few days, but the odds are good that Harper’s decision will drag on, meaning Bochy’s Giants might take the field for the first time with an inexperienced but talented group of outfielders. Until told otherwise, Bochy said his plan is to get that group ready for the season and assume he has to pick three younger outfielders as starters. 

“You have to assume this is the club until things change,” Bochy said. “That’s how you have to approach it. You can’t assume anything is going to happen. Sure, there’s a pretty good possibility, but hey, this is the team I have and this is a team that we’ll get ready for the season.”

Farhan Zaidi, the Giants' president of baseball operations, still hopes to provide help, though. That could come in the form of Harper, and that pursuit certainly is serious. But other free-agent outfielders remain, and the trade market still is buzzing.

Zaidi has said all offseason that he hopes to add two experienced outfielders to this roster. He didn’t back off of that Friday. 

“I would still say that we’re looking for multiple additions,” he said. 

That’s not to say he’s unhappy with his current crop. The Giants have five outfielders on their 40-man roster: Steven Duggar, Chris Shaw, Austin Slater, Mac Williamson and Drew Ferguson, their Rule 5 Draft selection. 

“A guy like Drew Ferguson, we feel good about him, and we want to make sure he has an opportunity to make the team and has an opportunity to get some playing time,” Zaidi said. “With Mac Williamson being out of options, it’s important for us that he has a path to making the Opening Day roster with some of what he showed last year before he got hurt.”

Ferguson and Williamson get singled out because the Giants don’t have much leeway with them. Both have to make the Opening Day roster for the Giants to guarantee that they’ll keep their rights, and the path seems particularly wide open for Williamson, who had a huge spring and April last year and was the big league lineup’s biggest threat for a week before a concussion destroyed his season. 

Williamson continued his work with instructor Doug Latta in the offseason, and he’s excited about the opportunity. But he’s just as excited about the collective opportunity sitting there for the four homegrown outfielders. 

"Look, I’ve played with Slater and Duggar and Shaw the last few years. It’s easy to write people off, but I think it’s one of those situations where, you know, some good players were nobody until they were somebody," Williamson said. "Chris Shaw wasn’t drafted in the first round for no reason. Slater hasn’t been around the big leagues the last couple of years for no reason. Duggar is one of the best outfielders I've played with. 

"All four of us have a lot to bring to the table. A lot more than a lot of people think. At the end of the day, we’re not about trying to impress people, we’re about trying to help the team win. Whether they get more people or not, we’re going to be prepared." 

[RELATED: Posey calls for every MLB team to be in 'win-right-now mode']

It’s possible that the Opening Day left or right fielder won’t walk into the clubhouse until the dust has settled in March. There certainly were no signs of impending moves Friday as the team gathered for the first time in 2019.

A few days from now, Williamson, Duggar, Slater, Shaw and Ferguson will be together in Phoenix, competing and trying to make the most of an opportunity that is still there after one of the quietest offseasons in MLB history.  

“I do strongly believe that all of us can heavily contribute to the team," Williamson said, "And be a lot more than role players.”

Giants offered Madison Bumgarner four-year contract just above $70M

Giants offered Madison Bumgarner four-year contract just above $70M

For years, the formula at Oracle Park was simple. Draft and develop contributors and then lock them up to lucrative extensions. 

It was a plan that kept Giants fans and players happy, but over time it became clear it was not sustainable. The Giants are more pragmatic these days, and that showed in the negotiations with Madison Bumgarner. The Giants were in it until the end, but Bumgarner ultimately found more money elsewhere.

The Giants offered a four-year deal just above $70 million, NBC Sports Bay Area has learned. That fell short of the five-year $85 million deal Bumgarner reportedly has agreed to with the Diamondbacks. The Giants presented a higher average annual value but were unwilling to go to a fifth year for Bumgarner, who turned 30 in August. 

It’s unclear if anyone else out there was willing to offer the fifth year that ultimately may have been a tipping point. Bumgarner’s side sought a deal in excess of $100 million over the last week, meeting with the Giants and Dodgers at the Winter Meetings as the left-hander’s market started to come into place. 

While the Dodgers were serious about their pursuit, they never intended to get into the $100 million range. Instead, it was another NL West team that stepped up with the winning offer. 

[RELATED: Here's when MadBum, D-backs first play Giants in SF]

There would be no hometown discount this time. Bumgarner signed his first long-term deal as a 22-year-old, taking lifetime security and $35 million guaranteed, with two option years that were picked up. When he hit free agency for the first time, Bumgarner looked to make up for that below-market deal. The Diamondbacks were the ones most willing to help him do that. 

Madison Bumgarner to D-backs: Giants' Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford react

Madison Bumgarner to D-backs: Giants' Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford react

Every MLB roster goes through changes year after year. The Giants are no different.

But since May 2011, there have been three consistencies in San Francisco: Buster Posey has been behind the dish, Brandon Crawford has been at shortstop and Madison Bumgarner has been in the starting rotation. The final part of that equation is no more. 

Bumgarner reportedly agreed to a five-year, $85 million contract to join the Arizona Diamondbacks. There he will join former Giants catcher Stephen Vogt, and play his old teammates plenty of times as he stays in the NL West. 

Posey praised Bumgarner for his competitiveness, and told The Athletic's Andrew Baggarly that he's looking forward to facing MadBum. 

Baggarly also got a hold of Crawford, who admitted it "definitely will be weird" hitting off Bumgarner. 

Bumgarner and Posey won three World Series rings together, with Crawford being a part of the final two. But the amount of times Posey caught the lefty truly is wild to look at. 

[RELATED: Bumgarner leaving shows Giants now in full-blown rebuild]

The 30-year-old Bumgarner has pitched in 289 regular-season major league games. Posey has caught 228 of them. He has been in the squat for 1,451 1/3 innings of Bumgarner's 1,846 innings pitched in the regular season. The two were battery mates many, many more times in the playoffs as well. 

With the Giants moving on from Bumgarner, it's clear a full rebuild is going down in San Francisco. We might be counting down Posey and Crawford's playing days here, too.