Giants

Giants show frustration with MLB's slow free agency as offseason ends

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AP

Giants show frustration with MLB's slow free agency as offseason ends

SAN FRANCISCO — As Giants executives and the team’s stars talked about Bryce Harper on Friday morning, a veteran stood in one corner of the sprawling room on the suite level at Oracle Park and pointed to Dereck Rodriguez.

“Those are the types of guys I’m really thinking about,” he said.

Harper will get his payday, whether it’s tomorrow or in March, $250 million or $350 million. He’ll be fine. Same with Manny Machado. The Giants who gathered Friday at Oracle Park had a general sense of dissatisfaction with the kinds of offers Harper and Machado have received as two of the best free agents in MLB history, but the list of concerns goes much deeper.

Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford mentioned how many other quality free agents remain out there. Several of Nick Hundley’s former teammates quietly grumbled that the popular catcher was sorting through minor league deals. Many of the players in the room talked of the need for change, none more forcefully than Jeff Samardzija. He spoke passionately about the need to overhaul a system players believe is broken.

This is where someone like Rodriguez comes in. He broke through last season at the age of 26, but as a pre-arbitration player, he’s likely to simply have his contract renewed at or near the MLB minimum. Perhaps Rodriguez will get a raise of a few thousand dollars, but he’s two years from being able to get a real bump in arbitration, and he won’t be a free agent until after the 2024 season. 

For years, players have slogged through all of this knowing they would cash out as free agents. That’s no longer the case. 

“We’re going to have to get arbitration moved up a year earlier and get guys to free agency earlier,” Samardzija said. “It seems like there might only be one way to get that, but we’ll see. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that because we want to keep the fans happy. We want people coming to the stadium and watching a great product, but they need the best product available, and having 50 guys sitting at home that are big league players is not the best product.”

If your eyes widened at part of that quote, you read it correctly. 

“You know, striking is the last thing you want to do, but you have to be willing to do it,” Samardzija said. “But I think there are other things before then that can get the ball going the right way."

Part of that involves getting the game’s biggest stars involved, and that’s already happening. Evan Longoria has taken to Instagram and Twitter to advocate for change. Buster Posey, who usually stays away from any hint of controversy, tweeted about the situation on Friday. A day later, he doubled down.

“Somehow the notion that it’s okay not to be competitive for any window of time has become acceptable,” Posey said onstage at FanFest. “That’s my issue.”

The increased chatter -- Justin Verlander of the Astros joined in Monday on Twitter -- has been noticed. Giants president and CEO Larry Baer spent the middle of last week at owners meetings in Florida, and said the concerns will be addressed. 

“If this is a market that doesn’t work then we’ve got to change the system in ways that maybe work better," Baer said.

At the same time, the owners and players agreed to this CBA, and Baer pointed out that they’re just two seasons into a five-year deal. The players were caught off guard last offseason. This offseason they have grown angry, but front offices are unlikely to start operating in a different way. They mostly have come to the same conclusion in recent years.

“You have a lot of really accomplished free agents still out there, but our job is less about what a player has done in the past and more about what we think they’re going to do going forward,” new president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said. “I think that’s some of the slowdown that you see in the market, is players valuing themselves based on what they feel they’ve earned in their careers and front offices maybe being a little more oriented towards what can we expect for this player in 2019 and going forward.”

Zaidi has shied away from big contracts throughout his front office career, but he is currently trying to bring Harper to San Francisco. If that chase fails, ownership and the front office could hear increased grumbling from the clubhouse. The Giants have committed less than $10 million to free agents this offseason, and for the players, that’s not an encouraging sign. 

[RELATED: Bookmarker lists Giants as betting favorite to sign Harper]

On Tuesday, pitchers and catchers will take the field at Scottsdale Stadium and officially begin their season. A week from now, position players will join. They’ll smile and joke and enjoy the fact that they’re getting paid to play a game they love, but in quiet moments, you can expect the business discussions to continue.

Players are concerned about the direction of their game, and that’ll be a part of the story of this season, and possibly the two seasons that follow. 

"Everyone kind of went along with it last year because (teams were) saying Machado and Harper are going to be available and we want to save funds for that," Samardzija said. "Well, now that's happened. I'm sure every team knows whether they're in or not on Machado or Harper, so they can allocate their cash elsewhere, because I'm pretty sure a lot of teams know they're not getting them. But then they're not allocating that cash elsewhere, which they said they were going to do.

"To me, they're just taking a tactical approach as owners to shorten the window for guys to sign, and (they hope) two things come from it. They get guys to panic and sign bad deals as veterans, and also they get guys to sign pre-arb deals because they don't want to test the waters of free agency. That's what's happening now. Hopefully as players we can get on the same page and figure out how we ourselves can change the rhetoric of what's going on."

For National Puppy Day, here are some dogs embracing America's Pastime

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USATSI

For National Puppy Day, here are some dogs embracing America's Pastime

There are calendars out there dedicated to "fake holidays." And by fake holidays I mean there are some weird days dedicated to those most random things you can think of. 

Did you know there's an "Old Stuff Day?" Or even an "If Pets Had Thumbs Day?" That last one actually sounds pretty great. 

But today is #NationalPuppyDay, and it's a very important day because we discovered a bunch of GIFs (soft "G") of dogs embracing baseball.

You're welcome ahead of time.

This is Buster Posey's No. 1 fan and permanent (let's hope only semi-permanent) wearer of his jersey:

The A's hosted Bark in the Park night with ... surfboard-riding dogs:

Yes, this was an actual thing and I bet you're feeling pretty upset you missed out on it. 

Here is a dog on a kayak in McCovey Cove that also possesses a small BBQ:

Here is another very good dog getting a stick in the cove:

Sensing a theme here ... 

This is Reba and she's amazing and makes the infield at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum look extra perfect:

Here's a Giants' dog that chose to forego the water and instead skateboard around the park. As one does:

Here's an A's dog -- with green hair.

What that as fun for you as it was for us? We thought so. 

Bruce Bochy, Ned Yost reflect on touching moment after 2014 World Series

Bruce Bochy, Ned Yost reflect on touching moment after 2014 World Series

SAN FRANCISCO -- A few minutes after his team lost the 2014 World Series in a heartbreaking way, Royals manager Ned Yost walked over to the visiting clubhouse at Kauffman Stadium and quietly slipped into Bruce Bochy’s office. With champagne still flying through the air and players getting deep into their celebrations, Yost and Bochy shook hands and had a brief conversation.  

The show of class and sportsmanship meant a lot to the winning side. That moment meant even more to Yost. 

“I’ve still got that picture hanging in my office,” he said recently. “I don’t have many pictures that I put up, but there’s that one of me and him shaking hands afterward. That one is special to me. It was a hard time because he was trying to celebrate, but I just wanted to tell him congratulations.”

Yost’s Royals will face Bochy’s Giants today in Cactus League action, and it will almost certainly be the final matchup between their teams. Bochy has announced his intention to retire, and neither team is favored to reach the postseason.

That 2014 matchup was a memorable one, though, and it still leaves Yost shaking his head. A day after Bochy announced that 2019 would be his last season, Yost, at an MLB event, recalled thinking he had gotten the better of Bochy. 

“I just remember him sending Bumgarner out in Game 7 and I just thought, ‘Okay, we’re going to kill him.’ And it just didn’t turn out that way,” Yost said. “Even to send Bumgarner out there in the ninth, it was like, ‘whoa,’ but it worked out perfectly.”

Yost and the Royals would win the next year, getting their own moment in the sun. But on that cold October night in Kansas City, Yost watched Bumgarner get out of a jam in the ninth. He watched Bochy celebrate, and then he went over to congratulate a manager he says is a surefire Hall of Famer. 

[RELATED: Bochy announces he will retire after 2019 season]

“I just have the ultimate respect for him. I’ve always admired him, his longevity, and what he has been able to do,” Yost said. “The one solace I can find, as tough as it was to lose a World Series, especially when you’re 90 feet away, is just that I lost it to my boyhood team and to a manager who I probably have more respect for than any other present manager in the game. 

“He’s right behind Bobby Cox for me. He’s accomplished everything that every manager looks to accomplish.”