How Farhan Zaidi can pull off Giants salary swap in trade this offseason

How Farhan Zaidi can pull off Giants salary swap in trade this offseason

SAN FRANCISCO — There are many moves that Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi made in Los Angeles that surely caught Larry Baer’s eye, but the most important one may have been a trade involving mostly players who wouldn’t contribute in 2018. 

Last December, the Dodgers sent Adrian Gonzalez, Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir, Charlie Culberson and cash to the Braves for Matt Kemp. It was a stunning move, and in the end the Dodgers ended up with a stunning result: Kemp made the All-Star team and contributed to a division title. 

But a year ago, this was simply a way to swap bad contracts and get the Dodgers under the tax line for a year. Kemp was never supposed to make the 2018 roster, he was there to give the Dodgers financial wiggle room moving forward. 

"One of the main considerations in this deal were economic, but they're part of the bigger picture, the longer-term plan,” Friedman, Zaidi’s former boss, said at the time. “It's a necessary strategic part of moves yet to come.”

As Zaidi works to overhaul the Giants roster, you can bet he’s looking to strike gold in a similar way. A league source familiar with Zaidi’s past work said one of his first moves would be trying to clear some future salary commitments, and nobody has more of those than the Giants. 

The 2019 roster will have nine players making at least $12 million — the Red Sox are paying nearly every cent of Pablo Sandoval’s salary, though — and six due at least $15 million. 

There are plenty of teams out there looking to dump similar deals. The Padres have made Wil Myers available; the rebuilding Royals have starters Ian Kennedy and Danny Duffy on big deals; the Mariners have six massive contracts on their books and they're starting over. You can look around the league and find plenty of Kemp-like options. 

But which deals would Zaidi look to get off his own books? Let’s roll through them … 

No Trade-Clauses

Buster Posey ($22 million), Brandon Crawford ($15.2 million), Mark Melancon ($14 million). All three of these guys have full no-trade clauses. Posey and Crawford are franchise pillars, anyway, and Crawford grew up in the Bay Area and Posey has moved his family here. They’re likely to retire as Giants.

But just in case you wanted to include them in deals, remember that they can veto any deal, and would. Melancon doesn’t have roots in the Bay Area, but he likes it here, has a young family, and also seems unlikely to seek a fresh start. 


Johnny Cueto ($21 million), Jeff Samardzija ($19.8 million): You can’t trade a pitcher rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, so Cueto won’t be discussed at all. Samardzija is owed nearly $40 million and has a hurt shoulder, so he would be just about impossible to trade.

On the other hand, Gonzalez, McCarthy and Kazmir all had injury issues and Friedman and Zaidi found a taker.

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Samardzija has a limited no-trade clause, though, and wants to stay in San Francisco. We’ll include Sandoval here because he finished on the 60-day DL, but again, the Giants owe him just the MLB minimum. The Red Sox are covering the rest of his $18.6 million salary. 

No Long-Term Salary Concerns

Madison Bumgarner ($12 million). He may be traded for other reasons, but he doesn’t fit the theme here. His contract actually makes him more attractive to other teams. 

The Candidates

Brandon Belt ($16 million), Evan Longoria ($14.5 million). These are the two players who will be talked about moving forward. It’s not fair to lump Belt in as a “salary dump,” because he’s one of the team’s best hitters when healthy and might be the the best defensive first baseman in the NL. But he has three years remaining on a massive five-year deal and Posey may need to play a lot of first base in future years, so Belt is the most obvious candidate. He also is the likeliest option to bring a real package of talent back in return.

A complication here: Belt can pick 10 teams annually to put on a no-trade list. He wants to stay in San Francisco, and if he’s strategic, he can basically turn that into a full-no trade clause, because there are plenty of tanking teams and teams with a star first baseman already that he wouldn’t need to include. 

Longoria does not have no-trade protection, which makes him the easiest target. Because Bobby Evans got the Rays to chip in $14 million, Longoria is actually owed about $60 million more on a deal that takes him through 2022. The length is the main issue, and this is where the Kemp deal comes in.

The Braves took on all those massive salaries for one year while the Dodgers got two years of significant Kemp money, so perhaps Zaidi can replicate that and find a team that would take on four years of Longoria’s deal while shipping out a player who makes much more money but for just two or three years.

Longoria had a down year in 2018 but he was still worth 1.9 WAR, per Baseball Reference, led the team in homers, and played outstanding defense down the stretch. He could be part of the solution for the Giants next season, but if Zaidi is looking for a way to clear some future payroll commitments, Longoria would be one of his only options. 

Brandon Crawford drives in eight, ties mark held by Mays, Cepeda


Brandon Crawford drives in eight, ties mark held by Mays, Cepeda

DENVER -- Brandon Crawford didn't know he had a chance to join a couple of Hall-of-Famers when he came up with the bases loaded in the ninth inning Monday afternoon. All he knew was that he was facing something he hadn't previously seen in the big leagues. 

Crawford dug in and looked up at Mark Reynolds, a first baseman who was asked to mop it up on the mound in the ninth inning of the Giants' 19-2 win at Coors Field. Reynolds was the first position player Crawford had faced in the big leagues. 

"It was a weird feeling," Crawford said. "But it's bases loaded, one out -- it's still an at-bat that counts."

Crawford made sure of that, bouncing a single up the middle to drive in two more runs. He finished with eight RBI, tying a San Francisco Giants record previously shared by Willie Mays and Orlando Cepeda. He became the first shortstop in MLB history to record five hits and eight RBI in one game. Crawford said the big day was due to his teammates. 

"I hit with a lot of guys on base, that was nice," he said. "The whole lineup contributed."

That was rarely the case the first three months. But in the days leading up to the break, you could see Crawford, Buster Posey and other members of the core starting to turn it on, mixing in with Alex Dickerson, Austin Slater and other newcomers. 

Crawford took a five-game hitting streak into the game and added three walks over the weekend in Milwaukee. The breakout came Monday. He homered in the first to help the Giants take a 5-0 lead and added a long shot to right in the sixth. 

In one game, Crawford raised his average from .226 to .239. His OPS jumped from .654 to .695. That's hard to do nearly 100 games into the season -- unless you have the type of day that has you in the same company as Hall-of-Famers. 

"I've been feeling good," Crawford said. "I'm seeing the ball well. You expect to get hits when that happens."

Giants vs. Rockies lineups: Five batters back in for doubleheader Game 2

Giants vs. Rockies lineups: Five batters back in for doubleheader Game 2

The Giants' bats are scorching hot right now, so it's understandable if certain guys don't want to sit out a game.

After a historic eight-RBI effort in the Giants' 19-2 win in Game 1 of the doubleheader against the Rockies, shortstop Brandon Crawford will start Game 2 on Monday night.

Rookie Mike Yaztrzemski is also back in the lineup after collecting four hits in the first game.

Brandon Belt, Kevin Pillar and Pablo Sandoval are the other three Giants hitters that will start both ends of the doubleheader.

Following Game 1, the Giants optioned Ray Black back to the minor leagues and recalled Dereck Rodriguez, who will start Game 2. In 17 major-league appearances this season, the 27-year-old is 3-5 with a 5.27 ERA.

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Here are the lineups for Game 2 of the Giants-Rockies doubleheader on Monday. First pitch is scheduled for 5:40 p.m. PT with pregame coverage beginning at 5 p.m. You can follow the action on NBC Sports Bay Area or by downloading and streaming on the MyTeams app.

San Francisco Giants (44-49)
1. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
2. Austin Slater (R) RF
3. Pablo Sandoval (S) 3B
4. Stephen Vogt (L) C
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Mike Yastrzemski (L) LF
7. Kevin Pillar (R) CF
8. Donovan Solano (R) 2B
9. Dereck Rodriguez (R) P (3-5, 5.27 ERA)

Colorado Rockies (46-47)
1. Charlie Blackmon (L) RF
2. Trevor Story (R) SS
3. David Dahl (L) CF
4. Nolan Arenado (R) 3B
5. Daniel Murphy (L) 1B
6. Raimel Tapia (L) LF
7. Chris Iannetta (R) C
8. Garrett Hampson (R) 2B
9. Chi Chi Gonzalez (R) P (0-1, 6.00 ERA)