Giants

Giants working to get GM in place as search for new manager begins

Giants working to get GM in place as search for new manager begins

SAN FRANCISCO -- As he sat at the podium Tuesday and talked about all the work ahead of him, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi laughed while telling a story about 2014. Zaidi was a rising star in the industry and had just been hired by Andrew Friedman, a similar talent, to serve as general manager of the Dodgers. 

"There was a lot of talk that this seems like a game of title inflation," Zaidi recalled. "'Nobody ever needed a president and a GM before, how's this going to work?' I feel in five years baseball has come a long way because there's a tremendous amount of alarm that we don't have a GM at this point. I think it shows the evolution of front offices and how sophisticated, and at times complex and involved, running a baseball operations department is."

Giants officials got that sense every time they walked into Dodger Stadium in recent years. To get to the visiting clubhouse you have to walk past the old clubhouse, which now houses the organization's massive analytics department. Baseball operations has become big business, and the Giants -- who mostly have had the same group in place for a couple decades -- plan to keep up.

After being somewhat coy about the process during the season, Zaidi came out Tuesday and made it clear he will hire a general manager. He called it a high priority and said he would move as quickly as possible, but insisted "there's no favorite, let alone somebody who has either (the GM or manager) job in the bag."

Some in the Giants organization might disagree. There's a sense that Zaidi has a clear favorite for his GM after a year of thinking about it, and it's possible that Billy Owens -- an assistant GM in Oakland -- is that guy. Owens, who worked with Zaidi previously, was in consideration for the job last offseason but the Giants ultimately didn't make a hire. 

No matter who the Giants choose, it's clear the new GM will have considerable influence on all areas of baseball operations. Zaidi said he views the front office hierarchy as "sharing the load of managing the overall operation." The Giants aren't necessarily looking for someone known for excelling in one specific area. 

"I think by not defining it specifically, it opens up the candidate pool," Zaidi said. "Whether that's somebody that has experience and expertise in scouting or player development, administration, whatever their strengths are, hopefully, we can complement each other and work well."

[RELATED: How appealing openings could impact Giants' mangerial search]

That person will also have to work well with the new manager, although it's possible a GM won't be hired in time to take part in managerial interviews. Zaidi said the processes would be done concurrently.

"You want to know how the GM is going to work with the manager but you also want to know how the manager is going to work with the GM," he said. "It's a little bit of a 'chicken and egg,' but we will very much have it in mind that those two are going to have to have a close relationship and we have to have confidence they're going to be able to work together."

Why Giants need to upgrade shortstop in 2020, according to MLB.com

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Why Giants need to upgrade shortstop in 2020, according to MLB.com

Shortstop Brandon Crawford and second baseman Joe Panik formed a Giants double-play duo up the middle for nearly six seasons.

One half of the pair already is gone after San Francisco released Panik in August, and he joined the Mets shortly after. Could Crawford be on his way out, too? 

MLB.com's Will Leitch identified the problem areas for each team going into next season, and his position for the Giants comes as a bit of surprise. 

"Brandon Crawford is under contract for next year, but the Giants need to build from the inside out, and shortstop is a position they’re starting from too far behind on," Leitch wrote. 

Crawford, who turns 33 years old in January, has one season remaining on his six-year, $75 million contract and is coming off the worst season of his nine-year career. The two-time All-Star hit just .228 with 11 home runs and a .654 OPS. 

His 0.6 bWAR was the lowest of his career since 2011, the season in which he debuted with the Giants. To make matters worse, the three-time Gold Glove winner had an oddly down year defensively. 

For the first time in his career, Crawford wasn't worth a positive defensive run saved, according to FanGraphs. He finished at exactly zero, down from six in 2018. Crawford's .972 fielding percentage also was his lowest since 2015. 

But if the Giants do try to dangle Crawford on the trade market this offseason, they could have a solid replacement in Mauricio Dubon

The 25-year-old Dubon might be better pegged as a second baseman, though he has shown the ability to play shortstop just fine. Dubon, acquired from the Brewers at the MLB trade deadline, hit .279 with four homers, three stolen bases and a .754 OPS in 28 games for the Giants. 

[RELATED: Giants excited about future with infusion of young talent]

Dubon played second base in 22 games compared to 10 as a shortstop when he joined the Giants, but has played 475 games at shortstop to 113 as a second baseman in the minors. He is an in-house option right away if Crawford winds up on a new team. The free-agent market is thin this offseason at shortstop outside of Didi Gregorious, too. 

If Crawford does remain the Giants' shortstop, they certainly need him to have a bounce-back season next year. 

Why Giants outfielder Kevin Pillar could be a non-tender candidate

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Why Giants outfielder Kevin Pillar could be a non-tender candidate

The Giants are facing a series of difficult decisions this offseason. They must search for a new manager and general manager, and they also must decide whether to re-sign longtime ace Madison Bumgarner.

There also are a handful of players who are eligible for salary arbitration with San Francisco, including early season acquisition Kevin Pillar. The outfielder started 150 games for the Giants after being traded from the Toronto Blue Jays in April.

MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand recently included Pillar on a list of 12 MLB players who might not be tendered a contract offer before the Dec. 2 deadline.

Here is why:

Traded from the Blue Jays to the Giants one week into the season, the 30-year-old Pillar posted a 93 OPS+ -- his highest mark since 2015 -- with an underwhelming .293 on-base percentage. While Pillar remains a good outfielder, he’s no longer the elite defender he was earlier in his career. Pillar earned $5.8 million in '19, but heading into his third and final year of arbitration-eligibility, it remains to be seen whether the Giants will find his potential price tag too high for their liking. 

Pillar’s veteran presence was valuable for the Giants during a season when a litany of prospects came up to make significant contributions in the majors.

Despite the many defensive web gems Pillar has produced throughout his time in MLB, he never has won a Gold Glove, and he was just a hair above the league-average fielding percentage for a center fielder in 2019 (.986, league average .984).

Farhan Zaidi and the Giants' front office -- which has been increasingly reliant on advanced metrics compared other regimes -- has a difficult decision to make on Pillar.

Zaidi did mention during his end-of-season press conference that the team will be looking for players who can hit well at Oracle Park -- something the team struggled mightily with last season. Out of the 63 home runs hit by the Giants in their home ballpark in 2019, Pillar had 11 of them.

[RELATED: Giants prospect Ramos close to making good on lofty goal]

Will comfort at home be enough to justify an increased salary?

We likely won’t know until closer to that Dec. 2 deadline.