How Farhan Zaidi views Madison Bumgarner, Giants in MLB free agency

How Farhan Zaidi views Madison Bumgarner, Giants in MLB free agency

SAN FRANCISCO -- Farhan Zaidi spent 32 minutes Tuesday talking about his first season as the Giants' president of baseball operations and his plans for his first full offseason. Many of the questions focused on three topics: The ballpark, the search for a new manager, and the need to hire a general manager. 

All three of those issues might be resolved before the Giants get to the one that may be most important to the fan base: What's going to happen with Madison Bumgarner?

Zaidi expects another long offseason for marquee free agents, and that could include Bumgarner, who is a month from hitting the open market for the first time. The left-hander is excited about seeing what's out there, but if you're waiting for the Giants to publicly court him, you'll be waiting a long time. 

Zaidi, as a rule, does not talk about his interest in free agents. Asked about his own players Tuesday, he gave a general answer. 

"We have a certain level of interest in bringing all those guys back," Zaidi said. "We anticipate those guys will want to see what's out there in free agency. Some of them publicly commented on it, which is their right, and it's exactly what we'd expect them to do."

In addition to Bumgarner, closer Will Smith and catcher Stephen Vogt are scheduled to be free agents. Left-handed reliever Tony Watson can opt out of the third year of his deal, although he's believed to be strongly considering a return. With incentives, he could make $7 million next season. 

Bumgarner and Smith will be due much more than that, though both could be hampered by qualifying offers. It is a lock that one will be placed on Bumgarner, and the Giants are strongly considering giving one to Smith. They would either recoup a draft pick or get an All-Star closer on a one-year deal worth a bit more than $18 million. 

"I will say kind of at the outset of free agency, we have interest in at least having discussions about those guys coming back," Zaidi said of his free agents. 

Asked about Bumgarner, Zaidi noted the "tremendous track record" and the reliability that "every team in baseball could use." It's unclear what the market will look like, but the 30-year-old Bumgarner has always been confident that it will be there and be healthy. At the very least, the Atlanta Braves, the closest franchise to Bumgarner's North Carolina home, figure to give the Giants a run for their money.

[RELATED: What main trait Zaidi is looking for in next Giants manager] 

With Bumgarner a free agent, the Giants will enter the offseason with Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto atop their rotation and Logan Webb, Tyler Beede, Shaun Anderson and Dereck Rodriguez (who will play Winter Ball) filling things out. No matter what happens with Bumgarner, it's clear some veteran help will be brought in. 

"It's going to be a necessity for us and it's a priority for us to continue developing our young pitchers," Zaidi said. "But certainly, having veteran pitchers around them is valuable from a competitiveness standpoint and also valuable from a developmental standpoint."

How Hunter Pence returned home to Giants after one season with Rangers

How Hunter Pence returned home to Giants after one season with Rangers

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- With the full squad finally in place and the construction around the ballpark nearing its conclusion, the Giants finally opened the gates of Scottsdale Stadium to fans on Monday. There was a long line out front at 10 a.m., but with the exception of a playlist heavy on 90s rap, it was pretty quiet on the main field for most of the morning. 

But then Hunter Pence emerged from the cage beyond the right field wall, and fans down the line started to rise and welcome him back to the organization. The applause continued all the way to the plate, and Pence delighted the fans by hitting a high homer to left to kick off his first round of batting practice. 

It's 2020, and for all the change around the organization, there's still one thing the Giants can count on. Hunter Pence, now 36, remains wildly popular. 

"It's great to be back, that's for sure," Pence said upon checking into camp Sunday. "It was a quick process, it popped up late. Everything worked together, and I had some good conversations with Farhan and with Kapler. It was really exciting. 

"Obviously this is a home. I have a lot of history, a lot of friends, a lot of family here. The city feels like we have a great relationship -- I love it so much and I love the fan base."

Pence said the wooing process only started about three weeks before the Giants announced a one-year agreement in the hours before FanFest. It seemed to come out of nowhere, but Pence never gave up on returning to San Francisco. It felt like the Giants were giving him a grand sendoff in 2017, when he rode a custom scooter around the park and gave an emotional speech, but Pence never viewed it that way.

He quietly informed the front office that he would be interested in a reunion after he made some offseason swing changes, but the Giants preferred a different direction. 

Pence went back to Texas, hit .297 with 18 homers for the Rangers, made the All-Star team, and somehow became exactly what his old team was looking for in the weeks before spring training. Farhan Zaidi, Scott Harris and Gabe Kapler knew they needed more help against left-handed pitching, and Pence thumped southpaws last year. 

"Hunter had tangible swing changes that led to an excellent year with the Rangers," Kapler said. "Against left-handed pitching, he was even better. We're going to need to find ways to keep Hunter fresh and healthy and productive, and one of those ways is going to be mixing and matching. Go get the best matchup, but also give Hunter as many opportunities against left-handed pitching as possible while giving him the opportunity to earn more."

Kapler declined to elaborate this early about just how much playing time Pence is expected to get, pointing out that the spring competition is just beginning. For his part, Pence seems willing to take on a new role. He once started 331 consecutive games for Bruce Bochy, a streak that was perhaps counterproductive at times, but the best the Giants may be able to do this year is put him in a left field platoon with Alex Dickerson. 

"I have to put on a new hat," Pence said. "As you grow older and shift into roles, I'm open to putting on whatever hat it takes to help us accomplish being the best team we can."

It's clear the Giants at least checked off enough playing time boxes for Pence that it wasn't a hard decision to return to an organization that's now rebuilding. The San Diego Padres came with late interest and Pence also had an opportunity to go to camp with the Houston Astros, who play in Pence's current hometown, a place where he has opened up a coffee-and-gaming shop that's his hangout spot much of the offseason.

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

But he chose to return to San Francisco, the city where he not only won two titles, but also met and married his wife, Alexis. 

"We definitely had other opportunities and (Houston is) a city that we do live in, but I've only played with one of the players over there," Pence said. "Things just lined up. It makes a lot of sense for me to be here, we're happy to be here. We're thankful for every opportunity that was out there, but we're really happy to be home."

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


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.