Giants

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

farhanzaidigiantsusatsi.jpg
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 say they won't include Aubrey Huff in 2010 World Series reunion

huffmachadousatsi.jpg
USATSI

Giants say they won't include Aubrey Huff in 2010 World Series reunion

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants do celebrations and nostalgia better than anyone, and quite a bit of time will be devoted this season to looking back at the 2010 team that finally brought a title to San Francisco. But a key member of that team will not be invited to Oracle Park because of tweets he sent this offseason. 

The Giants have told Aubrey Huff, the starting first baseman on that team, that he is not welcome at the ballpark when they celebrate the 2010 championship. 

"Earlier this month, we reached out to Aubrey Huff to let him know that he will not be included in the upcoming 2010 World Series Championship reunion," the organization said Monday in a statement. "Aubrey has made multiple comments on social media that are unacceptable and run counter to the values of our organization. While we appreciate the many contributions that Aubrey made to the 2010 championship season, we stand by our decision."

The Athletic first reported Monday that Huff would not be included, and the 43-year-old told the website that he was "shocked" and "disappointed" by the decision.

"If it wasn't for me, they wouldn't be having a reunion," Huff told The Athletic. "But if they want to stick with their politically correct, progressive b------t, that's fine."

Huff hit .290 with 26 homers for the 2010 Giants and then dropped off over the next two years. He resurfaced years later with a Twitter account that often goes for shock value but crossed the line two notable times in the offseason. Giants officials were particularly taken aback by two tweets. 

In November, Huff tweeted a photo from a gun range with the caption "Getting my boys trained up on how to use a gun in the unlikely event" that Bernie Sanders beats Donald Trump in the 2020 election. In January, he tweeted about taking a flight to Iran to "kidnap about 10" women, writing "bring them back here as they fan us and feed us grapes, amongst other things."

[RELATED: Kapler shares short message to Giants' full spring squad]

Huff has not been around the ballpark much since retiring, but he came back to San Francisco in September for Bruce Bochy's final game, receiving a mixed reaction from the crowd. 

The Giants plan to celebrate the 2010 team on Aug. 16 and give out replica rings to the fans in attendance.

Gabe Kapler shares short message to Giants' spring training full squad

Gabe Kapler shares short message to Giants' spring training full squad

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Gabe Kapler has said repeatedly in recent weeks that he wants the Giants to be more prepared than their opponents, so it seemed likely that he would spend weeks working on the exact speech he would give when the full squad assembled for the first time on February 17.

But the first meeting was not a marathon. There was no dramatic speech, just a quick message from Kapler, one from Farhan Zaidi, some words from a couple of veterans, and then the Giants hit the field and began playing catch. 

"Players on Day 1, the thing they want to do the most is to get out on the field and compete," Kapler said. "So to squeeze everything in to Day 1 for the pageantry maybe doesn't make as much sense as to try to share those messages on a daily basis."

Kapler will have plenty of time to spread his beliefs. During his first day leading the full roster, he simply wanted the players to compete and to get used to some subtle changes. The Giants brought a machine out to throw sliders to hitters after they had taken a couple of rounds of batting practice, giving them a chance to hit breaking balls much sooner than they normally would.

Kapler said he was encouraged by how many players took advantage of the extra opportunity. 

"Those slider machines are not comfortable for players, particularly when they haven't seen a lot of pitches," Kapler said. "So to see the engagement and the buy-in was really cool. Our hitting coaches did a great job of making it a menu option, and then it was even cooler to see our players select the more difficult and challenging practice."

Kapler and the staff had a week to get pitchers and catchers used to some new ways of practicing and the emphasis on competition, but it was a bit different when the position players showed up. The bullpen is basically a wide-open competition and it's unclear who the fifth starter will be along with the backup catcher.

But the starting lineup is a bit more set, with veterans at catcher, first, short and third and roster options like Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence already in place. 

You could say there's far less competition on the position player side, but that's not how the Giants want their players viewing it. Evan Longoria, who played with Kapler in Tampa Bay, said it was good to see how much emphasis is being put on winning jobs this spring. Even the core veterans are being made to feel pushed a bit. 

[RELATED: Giants use umpires during bullpens, ramp up spring intensity]

"There are a lot of jobs open, there's a lot of things that guys are going to be competing for in camp, which is great," Longoria said. "Hopefully we see some of that fire come out, friendly competition or real. It's not really friendly, you know. Guys are playing for their livelihood and it's a job, so I love seeing that competitive nature come out in guys.

"It was good to hear guys stand up and I think it's really good to get those things out there in the open from the beginning."