Giants

As Giants say bye to Bruce Bochy, uncertainty surrounds coaching staff

bochyusa.jpg
USATSI

As Giants say bye to Bruce Bochy, uncertainty surrounds coaching staff

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Madison Bumgarner sign outside the Second Street entrance at Oracle Park has been replaced by an even bigger one honoring his longtime manager. On the left field wall, there's a picture of Bochy tipping his cap with a message -- "Thank you Boch!" -- that's popping up all around the ballpark. 

The next two homestands for the Giants largely will be about honoring Bochy, and for good reason. But there are others who are possibly coming to the end of the line, too. 

The Giants on Tuesday let go of eight pro scouts, including a few men who had been with the organization for a long time. Farhan Zaidi is assessing the amateur scouting staff and the front office he inherited, and when the season ends, he will sit down with members of Bochy's staff. 

The coaching staff was all signed through 2019, and with a new manager coming in, it's unclear how many -- if any -- familiar faces will return. That's been a topic of discussion in the clubhouse at points this summer, but Zaidi, who spoke about the scouting changes Tuesday, said he didn't want to dive into coaching staff decisions quite yet. 

"I think it's different when these guys are kind of working through the day-to-day grind of the season," he said. "For a good number of our pro scouts, most of their work was done. The timetable is a little different ... I don't want to get too into that. Obviously, we've got some games left and these guys are still kind of grinding every day. I'm sure I'll sit down with all of them individually and hopefully with all of our players as well."

A new manager traditionally brings in his own people, so this could be a tense time for some longtime Giants, including a few who helped the organization win championships. Third base coach Ron Wotus is in his 32nd year with the organization, first base coach Jose Alguacil is at 13 seasons, and bench coach Hensley Meulens is finishing his 10th. Pitching coach Curt Young and hitting coach Alonzo Powell both are relatively new, having come on last season. Matt Herges, the bullpen coach, and Rick Schu, the assistant hitting coach, are also at two seasons. Shawon Dunston, who handles video reviews, is in his 11th season. 

[RELATED: Dubon's second base instincts on display again for Giants]

While most of the attention in October will be paid to the manager search, Zaidi has another key hire to make. He was brought on so late last offseason that he didn't have a chance to hire a general manager, but he said he will again put a list together and expects to hold interviews. There is no guarantee that the Giants actually will hire a GM. The Dodgers never replaced Zaidi when he left that role. 

"Whether we wind up hiring someone or not will just be a question of whether we find the right person," he said. 

Giants weighing present vs. future with Kevin Pillar contract decision

Giants weighing present vs. future with Kevin Pillar contract decision

The Giants have a decision to make with Kevin Pillar. Will they bring back the popular center fielder who bashed 21 homers last season and earned a 10th place NL MVP vote? 

It's not that simple. 

Pillar is entering his third and final year of arbitration eligibility, and after one of the best seasons of his seven-year career, he will come with a hefty price tag. The veteran turns 31 years old in January and is projected to make nearly $10 million this offseason in arbitration. That is, if the Giants let him get there. 

San Francisco has until Dec. 2 to offer Pillar a contract or he will be non-tendered and become a free agent. While the exciting center fielder was perhaps the Giants' best player last season, he might not fit their timeline. 

"I think being in the transition phase that we're at, and having some younger outfielders we may look to create some playing time for -- that's a little bit of the dynamic," Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said to The Athletic's Tim Kawakami when asked about Pillar on the "TK Show." 

The Giants once again are entering an offseason with question marks in their outfield. Mike Yastrzemski earned a spot for at least 2020 after batting .272 with 21 homers and an .852 OPS in 107 games last season as a 28-year-old rookie. But there are other intriguing options, too. 

Austin Slater, who turns 27 years old in December, can play multiple positions around the diamond and finally proved to have some power in his bat. Speaking of power, Alex Dickerson -- who also is arbitration eligible -- hit six homers and had an eye-opening .529 slugging percentage in just 56 games for the Giants, but injuries once again derailed his season. 

Other in-house outfield options for the Giants include younger players like Steven Duggar (26), Jaylin Davis (25) and Chris Shaw (26). There also is the chance top prospect Heliot Ramos (20) makes his MLB debut next season

This doesn't mean that Pillar's time in San Francisco is over, though. Along with his 21 homers, he hit .264 with 87 RBI and a .735 OPS in 156 games for the Giants. Zaidi knows letting him go would be a big loss. 

"Kevin Pillar was the Willie Mac winner, he had a terrific season for us," Zaidi said. "Obviously he was incredibly popular with the fans -- not just with his production but his durability and the fact that he was out there every day."

Still, it's clear Zaidi's plan goes well beyond the 2020 season. 

"And again, I think the juncture that we're in as an organization, we're gonna have to view every baseball decision we make as a little bit of a tradeoff between production and development, and the present and the future," he said.

Rays designate popular ex-Giants infielder Matt Duffy for assignment

duffyusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Rays designate popular ex-Giants infielder Matt Duffy for assignment

A Giants fan favorite needs a new home. 

The Tampa Bay Rays designated infielder Matt Duffy for assignment Wednesday, and they now have a week to trade or release him. Injuries limited Duffy, who played for San Francisco for parts of three seasons, to just 199 games with the Rays after being traded to Tampa Bay during the 2016 season.

“Wish that his health and his time with us would have gone different in that regard and we could have had him on the field more,’’ Rays general manager Erik Neander said (via the Tampa Bay Times). “He really is a special player and there’s the obvious stuff you can measure in how he impacts a game. His intangibles, his leadership, his influence on a younger impressionable clubhouse like we have is worth a lot. And that especially made this a very difficult decision and we’ll certainly miss him in that regard.’’

Duffy played in only 46 games, slashing just .252/.343/.327 and posting a career-low .670 OPS. Despite those struggles, Duffy's Rays career ended with eerily similar statistics to that of his Giants tenure. Duffy played 54 more games in orange and black than he did with Tampa Bay, but his .281/.326/.399 slash line with the Giants was not far off from his overall .284/.351/.357 line with the Rays. 

The pitcher Duffy was traded for, Matt Moore, is long gone from San Francisco. Could Duffy make his way back to Oracle Park, either through trade or free agency? It's difficult to imagine, given the construction of the Giants' infield depth chart. 

Duffy has played the vast majority of his career games at third base, and Giants third baseman Evan Longoria is under contract through 2022 and owed $53 million until then, making a trade unlikely. Behind Longoria is arbitration-eligible veteran Donovan Solano, who posted a career-best .815 OPS last season. Right-handed shortstop Mauricio Dubon, who the Giants acquired in a trade from the Milwaukee Brewers, will at least back up Brandon Crawford next season, and Dubon's status as one of San Francisco's most promising young players will give him the priority in terms of playing time. 

[RELATED: Would Cole be perfect fit for the Giants this offseason?]

Plus, Duffy's connections to the Giants are largely gone. President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, general manager Scott Harris and manager Gabe Kapler were not in San Francisco when Duffy was. The Giants are no strangers to bringing back one of their own, but it remains to be seen if San Francisco's newly formed brain trust values that in the same way. 

The Giants opted not to make any changes to their 40-man roster Wednesday, and they would've had a chance to acquire Duffy via trade. Neander said the Rays were unable to find a taker, but perhaps a team circles back now that Duffy has been DFA'd. It just might not be San Francisco.