Giants seek outfield help, but MLB free agent market isn't that deep


Giants seek outfield help, but MLB free agent market isn't that deep

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants have a lot of holes on their roster, but there’s one area where the needs are particularly glaring. 

At the moment, there is one outfielder, Steven Duggar, who looks like a solid bet to be a starter on Opening Day, but even he faces question marks after having his rookie season cut short by shoulder surgery. New president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi needs a couple of solutions for the corner spots, and depending on what he does with the arbitration-eligible Gorkys Hernandez, he might need another player capable of handling center. 

[RELATED: Get to know Steven Duggar]

The Giants have some internal options — Chris Shaw, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater — but the free agent market provides plenty of different looks. You're in some trouble, though, if you miss out on the top guys ... 

The Superstar: Bryce Harper is in a class by himself, and if Scott Boras gets his way, his salary will be in a class by itself, too. The Giants have always liked Harper, but they’re unlikely to get too involved in the bidding. 

Tier II: A.J. Pollock, Michael Brantley, Andrew McCutchen.

This group could either provide the Giants with another middle-of-the-order bat … or another terrible contract. All three of these players are in their thirties and will likely seek deals of at least three years, and according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today,

Pollock is looking for The Lorenzo Cain: five years, $80 million. That’s a lot for a player who has had serious trouble staying on the field. Brantley comes with injury risk, too, but would give the Giants a huge boost when it comes to reaching base. McCutchen liked San Francisco and wanted to stay. If his price drops, he could be the best fit. 

The Wild Card: Marwin Gonzalez.

The former Astro can play every infield spot and made 65 starts in left last season. If the Giants think Shaw, Williamson or Slater will work into the everyday mix, Gonzalez would be interesting as someone who could get plenty of starts in left and then move around on other days. 

Former All-Stars: Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Carlos Gonzalez.

The drop-off is pretty steep once you get past the guys previously mentioned. Markakis is coming off his best year, but Zaidi said he wants to get younger and more athletic, and the former Brave just turned 35. Jones is 33 and far removed from his peak, but perhaps he could provide some right-handed pop in a corner. Gonzalez, 33, had a .633 OPS away from Coors Field last season and has a .637 OPS in 74 career games at AT&T Park. 

[RELATED: How Zaidi can pull of Giants salary swap]

The Rest: Gerardo Parra, Denard Span, Jon Jay, Hunter Pence, Melky Cabrera, Curtis Granderson, Carlos Gomez, Matt Joyce, Rajai Davis, Brandon Guyer, Derek Dietrich.

You can add a few more similar types to this list, too. Ironically, there are quite a few former Giants looking for outfield jobs, but don’t expect any reunions. You don’t have to go far down this list before you decide, “Man, we’re much better off just playing our own young outfielders and hoping one of them breaks out.” 

Madison Bumgarner beats back at trade rumors after Giants walk-off win

Madison Bumgarner beats back at trade rumors after Giants walk-off win

SAN FRANCISCO -- A few minutes after the Giants overcame a deficit in the 16th inning and walked off the New York Mets in a thrilling 3-2 win, Madison Bumgarner tracked down his manager. He still couldn't believe it. He had to talk to Bruce Bochy. 

It wasn't the comeback that Bumgarner was incredulous about. He expects great things from this team. It was the fact that Bochy had pulled Bumgarner after 94 pitches and nine innings. 

Three years ago, Bochy planned to let Bumgarner pitch the 10th inning of the NL Wild Card Game against the Mets at Citi Field before Conor Gillaspie's heroics made it a moot point. On this night, he wouldn't let Bumgarner go past nine. 

"He lobbied, trust me," Bochy said, smiling. "He did. He came in after the game and he was still mad at me for not letting him go out there for the 10th."

Bumgarner's lobbying wasn't limited to the manager's office. After the win, he held as forceful a press conference as you will get with a pitcher who has spent years saving his best stuff for more casual settings. The message was clear. He doesn't want to be anywhere else on August 1. 

Asked specifically about continued trade rumors as the Giants have won 13 of 15, Bumgarner gave a quick answer. 

"I don't give a s--t," he said. "I'm here to win games for this team, and that's what we're doing."

Asked about the possibility of his time at Oracle Park winding down, Bumgarner again shook his head.

"I'm trying to win games for the Giants and we're trying to get into the postseason and we're making a push," he said. "We're coming."

Bumgarner repeatedly mentioned lofty goals, finishing up by noting that this win -- a comeback on a night when a tired lineup struggled to get going -- is the type you see from championship clubs.

"If we manage to keep this going and sneak in (the postseason), I don't think anyone will want to match up with us," he said. 

The Giants won't win the division, but they're back near the top of the Wild Card chase and back to one game under .500. If they keep this going, they very well could be in the winner-take-all game for a third time this decade, and there still might be nobody you would rather have on your side that night than Bumgarner. 

Three years after he went the distance to send Noah Syndergaard and the Mets home for the winter, Bumgarner again got the better of the flame-throwing right-hander. He struck out six and cruised through the ninth. Bochy, knowing he couldn't use Mark Melancon and Sam Dyson because of recent overuse, still opted for his bullpen.

The Giants bent repeatedly, but did not break. Williams Jerez, called up earlier in the day, finally faltered in the top of the 16th when Pete Alonso took him deep to left. But the dugout wasn't at all concerned. Alex Dickerson and Brandon Crawford led off the bottom of the inning with doubles to tie the game. Three batters later, Donovan Solano walked it off. 

That made a big league winner of Jerez for the first time, and made that late-game push-and-pull a bit more lighthearted. Bumgarner really did want a shot at the 10th inning, saying later, "How many times do you get a chance to go out for the 10th?"

Bochy wouldn't allow it. He has been particularly protective of his ace this season, and while early on it might have seemed that would only benefit another club down the stretch, the situation has changed. The Giants firmly are in the postseason race, and Bumgarner clearly wants a part in it. 

[RELATED: Pillar wants to give Giants tickets to fans after viral clip]

At the very least, he would like two more months with Bochy. Perhaps he'll finally convince his longtime manager to let him pitch into extra innings. 

"I didn't try to make it much of a conversation, but he wasn't having it," Bumgarner said, smiling. "Usually, if I really want, I can get my way with him. But he wasn't having it today."

Watch Donovan Solano walk off Mets, clinch Giants' sixth straight win


Watch Donovan Solano walk off Mets, clinch Giants' sixth straight win

They did it again.

Donovan Solano's walk-off single in the bottom of the 16th inning sealed the Giants' 3-2 win over the New York Mets on Thursday, extending San Francisco's season-high winning streak to six games. Solano stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded, beating New York's shift with a single to right field. 

The Giants entered the bottom of the 16th trailing 2-1 after Mets slugger crushed a 427-foot home run to left center field. That broke a tie that lasted since the bottom of the fourth inning, as New York ace Noah Syndergaard dueled with San Francisco counterpart Madison Bumgarner. 

Bumgarner left the game after the ninth with six strikeouts and five hits allowed on 94 pitches. The 29-year-old, who might have been pitching his last game at Oracle Park ahead of the July 31 trade deadline, wanted to pitch into extras. 

But the Giants bullpen held strong after Bumgarner's departure, stranding multiple runners in the 10th, 13th and 15th innings. Alonso's blast looked like it might be enough to end the Giants' winning streak, but San Francisco didn't record an out in the 15th. Alex Dickerson doubled to lead things off, then Brandon Crawford drove him in with another double. Austin Slater was hit by a pitch in the next at-bat, and Kevin Pillar loaded the bases with a single to right. 

That allowed Solano to be the hero, and his walk-off hit moved the Giants 2.5 games back of the second NL wild card spot. They haven't done much losing in July. 

[RELATED: Why Flan thinks Giants owe it to MadBum to trade him]

Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi told KNBR earlier this week that San Francisco's trade deadline wasn't just a matter of buying or selling. He added that "every opportunity you have to get to the playoffs has a ton of value," and the Giants reportedly won't make any trades without fetching a "significant" return. 

Solano's walk-off alone won't change the calculus. But if wins continue to pile up, Zaidi's deadline dilemma becomes far more interesting.