Giants won't have any tax concerns as they dive into free agency


Giants won't have any tax concerns as they dive into free agency

SAN FRANCISCO -- You almost needed an accounting degree to fully understand all the offseason moves the Giants made two years ago. 

The trade for Evan Longoria included nearly $15 million coming back from the Rays. The Pirates covered $2.5 million of Andrew McCutchen's salary. When Tony Watson walked into the Scottsdale Stadium clubhouse a few days into spring training, he did so on a complicated contract that was structured to keep the Giants under the competitive balance tax line. 

The CBT was mentioned often by team officials for a couple of years and was constantly lingering in the background, a penalty that colored many of the organization's moves. That's still the case for several teams around baseball -- most notably the Red Sox, who might trade superstar Mookie Betts because of payroll concerns -- but as the Giants enter Farhan Zaidi's first full offseason in charge, they at least know they don't have payroll concerns. 

After paying the tax for three consecutive seasons, the Giants dipped just under in 2018 and didn't come close last year. While exact numbers are not available to the public, the Giants were estimated to have a tax number of about $177 million, according to Cot's Contracts, putting them well below the $206 million threshold. They'll open this offseason with even more breathing room. 

The organization has about $110 million committed to seven players for 2020. The Giants do have some arbitration cases to settle, most notably Kevin Pillar, who could earn close to $10 million if he's back next year, but with so much of the 40-man roster expected to be filled by young players making the MLB minimum or something close -- think Tyler Beede, Logan Webb, Mike Yastrzemski, Mauricio Dubon, Shaun Anderson etc. -- the front office should have the room to do just about anything it wants. The tax line for next season is $208 million. 

Now, will that lead to heavy spending? That's unlikely. The Giants did go after Bryce Harper last offseason, flirting with the possibility of paying the tax or dumping salary elsewhere, but ultimately their biggest signing was Derek Holland at one year for $7 million, and 2020 is expected to be a somewhat similar season, with young players getting the opportunity to win jobs. 

Harper was considered a special case because of his age, but Zaidi will have the payroll to go after a Gerrit Cole or Anthony Rendon if he thinks the fit is right. And if the Giants do push the heavy spending further down the line, the light at the end of the tunnel is approaching.

[RELATED: How Bumgarner's free agency fits Giants' rebuild]

After years of trying to find ways to creatively add to one of the most bloated payrolls in the game, the Giants are nearing the ends of some massive contracts. Zaidi found a way to dump Mark Melancon's final year on the Braves, and Jeff Samardzija ($19.8 million) is entering the final season of his deal. Buster Posey, Johnny Cueto, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt all have two years left and Evan Longoria has three. 

It's still far from an ideal payroll situation, but it's certainly much cleaner than it was a couple of years ago.

Watch McCovey Cove Dave lose two baseballs during Giants-Rangers game

Watch McCovey Cove Dave lose two baseballs during Giants-Rangers game

Global pandemic or not, some Giants fans refuse to give up one of the organization's most unique traditions.

A group of fans has continued taking kayaks out into McCovey Cove, just over the right-field wall at Oracle Park, hoping to snag one of the elusive splash hits off the bat of a Giants slugger.

However, even if the home run comes off the bat of an opponent like Texas Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, fans will go to great lengths to secure the ball.

[RELATED: Aruba Prime Minister wished Tromp well after Giants call-up]

You can see one of the Giants' more prominent fans, McCovey Cove Dave, jump (or more accurately slide) out of his kayak in an effort to secure Choo's two-run home run. Not only does he not get the home run ball from Choo, but another ball that slips out of Dave's kayak ended up in the hands of a female fan.

As you can see from Dave's Twitter account Sunday, social distancing did not seem to be a priority for those who flocked to McCovey Cove for the final time before a 10-game road trip.

Nevertheless, it's good to see Giants fans trying to make the most of the 2020 season, one in which no fans will be admitted to any MLB games as the league tries to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Chadwick Tromp got text from Aruba Prime Minister after Giants call-up

Chadwick Tromp got text from Aruba Prime Minister after Giants call-up

Chadwick Tromp has had a whirlwind week. The Giants rookie made his MLB debut on Wednesday, got the first two hits of his MLB career on Friday and hammered his first big-league home run on Sunday. Tromp also made history in the process, as he became just the ninth player from the tiny island nation of Aruba to play in MLB.

The young catcher helped the Giants win an important home series against the Texas Rangers at Oracle Park. Following Sunday's loss in the series finale, Tromp discussed the reaction to his promotion to the Giants' active roster in Aruba.

"So when I got called up," Tromp told reporters via Zoom Sunday. "The Prime Minister of Aruba texted me, and also our Minister of Sports also texted me and congratulated me. That was nice, it makes me feel like I'm doing the right thing and moving in the right direction."

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Tromp's first MLB home run was an absolute rocket and came at a critical moment in the game, tying the game up in the bottom of the sixth inning.

He's been in the minor leagues since 2013, beginning his professional career within the Cincinnati Reds organization. Playing just 26 games in Triple-A last season with the Sacramento River Cats, Tromp impressed the Giants' staff enough in Summer Camp to earn a spot on the 2020 active roster once his sore hamstring healed up.

[RELATED: What you might've missed in Giants' 9-5 loss vs. Rangers]

Tromp discussed more of how the people back home in Aruba celebrated his MLB debut following Friday night's game.

"The community back home, they're going nuts, I'm going to be honest with you," Tromp said. "It's crazy, people are celebrating, the whole island is basically celebrating. I love it. We're such a small island and this is very important to them because it puts us on a bigger scale and shows the world that a small island can also do big things in life."

Aruba's population is just over 100,000 total. Along with fellow native and Boston Red Sox infielder Xander Bogaerts, Tromp is representing the island nation with pride in this bizarre 2020 season.