Giants

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

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USATSI

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.

Giants' Mauricio Dubon needs jersey number after Gabe Kapler took his

Giants' Mauricio Dubon needs jersey number after Gabe Kapler took his

Gabe Kapler had his introductory press conference as the Giants' new manager, and he's chosen his uniform number as well.

The skipper has chosen No. 19 to sport this season, which means young infielder Mauricio Dubon will have to choose a new number -- and he needs your help.

He recently took to Twitter and asked what number he should wear now that he has to make the switch: 

No. 21 appeared to stand out from a Milwaukee Brewer's fan account, since Honduras became a country in 1821. Dubon was born in Honduras in 1994 (sorry to make you guys feel old).

[RELATED: Dubon gets engaged at Disneyland Paris]

Five-time All-Star second baseman Jeff Kent also sported the number with San Francisco.

We shall see ... 

Giants continue Triples Alley construction, moving bullpens off field

Giants continue Triples Alley construction, moving bullpens off field

SAN FRANCISCO -- Gabe Kapler and Scott Harris both went through the same drill earlier this week, standing near the home dugout at Oracle Park as a team photographer grabbed shots from their first days on the job. Behind the two new members of the brain trust, construction workers continued the work that started last month.

The Giants plan to make an official announcement about the changing dimensions of their ballpark, and the new locations of the bullpen, soon, but those who attended the press conferences this week -- and a TopGolf event the park hosted last week -- got a sneak preview. 

A chunk of the bleacher seats in right center have already been ripped out to make room for the new bullpens, and some seats have also been taken out in left center to accommodate other changes to the ballpark. But team president and CEO Larry Baer said the changes won't be drastic for hitters. 

"Triples Alley will still be Triples Alley, just with some refinements," Baer said. 

The Giants are still figuring out some of the exact details, but they know the bullpens will be side-by-side in center and right center. The kale garden will remain, although it sounds like there will be some changes to the dimensions out there because the center-field wall is coming in about six feet, which should please hitters. 

The deepest part of the park -- the nemesis for Brandon Belt and other left-handed hitters -- is 421 feet and will ultimately be closer to 410 feet when the construction is done, the Giants think. The Giants put a bar underneath the new scoreboard last season and plan to have additional changes, including a terrace, out there this year, continuing a trend around the game -- seen across the bridge in Oakland -- of having more gathering spots for fans. 

[RELATED: What Kapler learned from Phillies tenure]

Even as they held two press conferences last week, the Giants remained coy about their exact plans for the dimensions, but they expect to take out about 400 seats.

Some of those may be made up for in other spots. There is a short wall separating the old bullpens from the first row of seats and about 80 feet of that wall has been taken down on both sides of the park, which would seem to indicate that the Giants are going to add some premium seating in some of that territory.