The move to acquire Zack Cozart and Will Wilson was one of the savviest the Giants have made since Farhan Zaidi took over in 2018, and one of those players, Wilson, will now be part of the player pool this summer.
The other, Cozart, is no longer part of the organization. But because of a quirk in MLB's agreement to restart the season, he will be the highest-paid Giant in 2020.
Because Cozart was released well in advance of a March agreement that prorated salaries in a shortened season, he is still due his original salary, about $12.67 million. That originally put him behind six other Giants, but the ones who remained on the roster will get 37 percent of their original salaries in a shortened season.
Buster Posey, for instance, was due $21.4 million over a full season. He will make just under $8 million for 60 games, about $200,000 more than Johnny Cueto, who is entering the fifth year of a $130 million deal. Both will make significantly less than Cozart, who was never in the roster plans for this season.
The Giants took on the final year of Cozart's three-year, $38 million deal with the Angels so they could get Wilson, a 21-year-old shortstop who was taken 15th overall in the 2019 draft. Wilson is in San Francisco currently and is expected to be added to the player pool. Cozart was designated for assignment on Jan. 13 and has not signed elsewhere, and MLB contracts such as his are guaranteed even if you are released.
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The Giants have benefited from being on the other side of this. They paid Pablo Sandoval just the MLB minimum last year, with the Red Sox, who had released him during the 2017 season, on the hook for the rest. Nobody could have foreseen a season like this one coming, with prorated salaries being a sticking point after the coronavirus (COVID-19) shut the sport down, but players in Cozart's shoes benefited and kept their original guarantee.
After months of negotiations that went nowhere, the sides are playing under the March 26 agreement that'll have the Giants' payroll in the $50 million range this season, slashing salaries across the board. Jeff Samardzija, in the final year of a five-year, $90 million deal, will make $6.67 million instead of $18 million. Kevin Gausman, the most expensive free agent of the Zaidi era, will now make $3.33 million. Most of the younger players on the roster are at or near the league minimum, which for 2020 will be just about $209,000.
There is one group that will see a decent boost from the new rules. According to Baseball-America, players who are not on the 40-man roster and are in the player pool will be paid a Triple-A rate. In February the Giants decided to pay their Triple-A players $750 per week, surpassing the increased minimums set by MLB. Minor leaguers who are not part of the player pool will get $400 a week through the end of the original minor league season.