Giants

How Giants' highest-paid player in 2020 no longer is on team's roster

How Giants' highest-paid player in 2020 no longer is on team's roster

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. 

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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.

Gabe Kapler's faith in Hunter Pence, veterans pays off in Giants' win

Gabe Kapler's faith in Hunter Pence, veterans pays off in Giants' win

Twice a day, every day, Gabe Kapler logs onto Zoom to talk to reporters. You could search and search through those hours of film and you'd have a hard time finding many moments when Kapler was even a little bit negative. 

Ask Kapler about Hunter Pence's massive struggles and he'll say he believes in the track record and the work Pence is putting in behind the scenes. Ask about the slumping Brandons and he'll say the swings are better than the results. Ask why he has so much faith in Tyler Rogers, who has gotten rocked early on this year, and he'll say that the submariner is his Swiss Army Knife and remains a valuable weapon in late innings. 

After Monday night's loss, one in which the Giants flirted with getting no-hit and committed three more errors, Kapler sat down and took all the hard questions, then asked if he could make a statement before his time was up. He talked about how great Austin Slater's batting practice was earlier in the day. 

Kapler has shown tremendous faith in a group whose play on the field often begs for more turnover, and in Tuesday's 7-6 comeback win over the Astros, that faith was rewarded. 

Pence, 2-for-32 at the time, hit a three-run homer in the seventh. Brandon Crawford, hitting just .204 this year, had the game-winning hit in the 10th. Rogers entered with an 11.88 ERA and stranded a runner in scoring position for his first career save. Tyler Heineman, who has taken some heat for three catcher interference calls this season, picked up his own save by gloving a wild breaking ball with the tying run on third. 

"He has expressed confidence and understands that these kinds of things go on in baseball and it's about the process, it's about doing the work and having good approaches," Pence said of Kapler. "I'm really enjoying a lot of work these hitting (coaches) have done and also the support of Kap. It's been really a big lift for me."

While Pence has seen all the highs and lows one can expect in this game, Rogers, a second-year reliever, is dealing with his first real doubt in the big leagues. He pitched well in Triple-A, dominated in a September call-up, and had two camps this year that were so impressive he looked like a potential closer. 

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But Rogers has had high-profile blowups in the first three weeks of his first full season. After he gave up a game-swinging homer to A.J. Pollock in Los Angeles on Sunday, Kapler approached the reliever. 

"He came to me and was like, 'I haven't lost any confidence in you, you're still one of my guys,'" Rogers said. "That's big when a manager does that. After a couple tough games, to be able to validate his decision tonight to put me back in there was just rewarding for me."

Rogers took the mound the first time the Giants ever dealt with the new extra-innings rule, a game that ended up being an embarrassing loss. The Giants gave up six runs in the top of the 10th that night and Kapler pulled Rogers when he wasn't allowed to, a move he later apologized for. Given another shot, though, he went right back to Rogers. 

"I tell you what, it was good to get another crack at it," Rogers said. 

With George Springer on second, Rogers got a grounder and two strikeouts to pick up his first save. His twin brother, Taylor, has 36 of them in the big leagues, and you can bet at some point Kapler will give his version another shot at closing the gap. 

[RELATED: How Slater's adjustment hints at a breakout with Giants]

There will be nights when Kapler pays dearly for being so loyal. He already has several times this season. But on Tuesday, it all led to perhaps the best win of the year for a team that's proven to be pretty resilient. 

"We've been scoring a lot of runs late," Pence said. "We do have a team mindset of keep fighting, be as scrappy as we can, grit it out and keep going."

Giants takeaways: What you might have missed in 7-6 win vs. Astros

Giants takeaways: What you might have missed in 7-6 win vs. Astros

BOX SCORE

The Giants' second experience with the new extra-innings rule was considerably better than the first. San Francisco completed a huge comeback in the ninth and held on in the 10th for a 7-6 win over the Astros, bringing the placed runner home in the top half and then stranding him in the bottom of the inning. 

The Giants started the 10th with Wilmer Flores on second and Brandon Crawford brought him home. George Springer started the bottom of the inning on second but Tyler Rogers stranded him on third for his first career save. 

A night after a comeback attempt fell just short in the ninth, the Giants trailed 6-2 after six but tied it up. Hunter Pence hit a huge homer in the seventh and his single pushed the tying run to third in the ninth. Darin Ruf found a hole on the left side, completing the comeback. 

Welcome Home 

Pence started his career in Houston and spends his offseasons there. He even has a coffee shop in the city. It was the perfect spot, then, for Pence to finally get going. 

Gabe Kapler sent him up with two outs in the seventh and Pence lined it the other way, sneaking a three-run shot just over the wall in right as Josh Reddick's jump came up a few inches short. The homer, Pence's first of the year, cut a four-run deficit to one. It was the fourth pinch-hit homer of Pence's career. 

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A (Bad) Record 

When Alex Bregman took Tyler Anderson deep in the fourth, it marked the 15th consecutive game that the Giants had allowed a home run, a franchise record. Three previous Giants teams had allowed a homer in 14 straight. The staff entered the night with 28 home runs allowed, which was tied for the Mariners for second-most in the majors. The Diamondbacks had allowed an astounding 39 homers coming into play Tuesday. 

[RELATED: How Slater's adjustment hints at a breakout with Giants]

More Pitching Issues 

Anderson was good in Denver, but Houston wasn't so kind. The left-hander was charged with four earned in five innings, walking three and striking out two. Most of the damage was done in the second, when the Astros scored three runs on doubles by Martin Maldonado and Reddick. 

Rico Garcia followed Anderson and continued his slide. The hard-throwing right-hander gave up two runs on five hits and was saved from more trouble by a slick double play by Evan Longoria. After starting his Giants career with six scoreless outings, Garcia has allowed five earned in his last three appearances and recorded just five outs.