Giants

How Giants see Patrick Bailey, Joey Bart coexisting in MLB one day

How Giants see Patrick Bailey, Joey Bart coexisting in MLB one day

On the first day of his first spring training in charge of the Giants, manager Gabe Kapler spent a good amount of time talking to reporters about top prospect Joey Bart. The two had met over the offseason and Kapler was excited to watch Bart develop with a month in big league camp. 

For an organization that hasn't made an offseason splash the last couple of years, Bart represents quite a bit. He is the player fans are most excited to see whenever baseball resumes, the one who gets the most attention every time the Giants take the field for drills, and the leader of a generation of good prospects that's storming towards Oracle Park. 

But Bart now has some company in the squat, with the Giants using their first-round draft pick Wednesday on fellow ACC catcher Patrick Bailey. Farhan Zaidi hopped on a Zoom call a couple hours later and explained that you always take the best player available and you can never have too much catching. Looking forward, there are a number of ways this can go. 

Catchers get hurt and they wear down, as Giants fans have learned all too well with Buster Posey's collision in 2011 and a more recent hip surgery. Second-rounder Tommy Joseph ultimately moved off the position because of concussions, which also changed Hector Sanchez's career. Andrew Susac had trouble staying healthy. Aramis Garcia, also a second-rounder, had injury issues in the minors and hip surgery this spring. Bart suffered two hand fractures last year while hitting, and that hand will take a beating over the years as he catches. 

Catchers also can become excellent trade chips. The Giants used Joseph to get Hunter Pence and Garcia was thought to be part of the proposed plan to get Giancarlo Stanton. 

The Giants don't know what their organization will look like in three years, but in an ideal world, Bart and Bailey will coexist. Bart already was headed for a similar situation with Posey and the Giants talked often this spring of making Bart comfortable at a second position. Versatility now is king at Oracle Park. 

"I think when we look at what our ideal team and our ideal roster looks like, the dream scenario is to have two catchers that can impact the game offensively and defensively," Zaidi said. "If you're lucky enough to have that, there are going to be times when you want both guys in the lineup.

"Who knows what the future holds in terms of whether we go to a universal DH, but I think that's something that we want all of our catchers to do. (We want) all the guys in the system to be able to play a different position."

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The Giants talked this over from every angle, and Zaidi also mentioned how a 26-man roster will change the future math. He thinks teams may carry three catchers for large chunks of the season, and that will make it more imperative that catchers are versatile. Zaidi came from the Los Angeles Dodgers, where backups Austin Barnes and Kyle Farmer often played infield spots. 

"Having that versatility speaks to aspirationally what we want the roster to look like," Zaidi said. 

That process already is underway in the organization, and soon Bailey will get a taste of it. He has always been a catcher and doesn't have an obvious second position, but you can bet that ultimately will be part of the conversation. The Giants shot down those questions with Bart when he was drafted but admitted this spring that a second position was in the plans. 

For now, the focus with Bailey will be on finding some way for him to continue his development as a catcher in 2020. He won't be on a taxi squad, but could be part of a "stay-hot" camp or even participate in the Fall League. You can expect Bailey to be in big league camp next spring with Bart, his opponent in a NC State-Georgia Tech matchup in 2018. 

[RELATED: Comparing Giants top draft pick Bailey to Bart in college]

One day they may be in a timeshare. Right now, Bailey simply is ready to soak up knowledge. He mentioned Bart as someone he was ready to learn from. 

"You learn from different guys and learn different ways of doing stuff and see if you can implement that in my game," Bailey said.

Farhan Zaidi, Giants front office reach milestone with latest trade

Farhan Zaidi, Giants front office reach milestone with latest trade

The Sunday morning trade with the Chicago White Sox for Luis Basabe might end up getting the Giants a nice piece for a future outfield. Or it might not. 

The front office is adding another lottery ticket, but no matter how it works out, the trade did represent a bit of a landmark moment in the Farhan Zaidi regime. With the addition of Basabe and Jordan Humphreys, acquired from the New York Mets the previous Sunday, to MLB Pipeline's top 30, the Giants now have a list that is for the first time half-filled with players acquired since Zaidi took over in November 2018. 

Zaidi's biggest task when he was hired was kickstarting the player development machine, mimicking what has made the Dodgers so successful in the NL West, and he went straight to work on filling holes. 

There's only so much you can do when it comes to getting high-end talent. Zaidi and new scouting director Michael Holmes have had just two drafts to work with and this year's international signing period was pushed back by the coronavirus. While many fans wanted Zaidi to trade Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith last July, neither would have brought back a Hunter Bishop or Heliot Ramos type.

But the Giants now have a top 10 farm system because they've greatly improved their depth. Basabe, for example, was 11th in Chicago's rankings but came in at No. 18 when moved over to the Giants' list. Humphreys was 14th with the Mets but is 26th with the Giants. 

The 15 additions have come from traditional ways, but also creative ones, which is what ownership was counting on when a new front office was brought in. Here's a breakdown:

Draft

Hunter Bishop (4th), Patrick Bailey (6), Kyle Harrison (12), Nick Swiney (15), Logan Wyatt (20), Casey Schmitt (23), Grant McCray (29), Jimmy Glowenke (30).

The accounting there: Three players from the 2019 draft and five from 2020. Bishop, taken 10th overall in 2019, is the highest-ranking player added under Zaidi. 

Trade deadline

Jaylin Davis (13), Tristan Beck (19), Kai-Wei Teng (22)

This list doesn't even include Mauricio Dubon, who came over in the Drew Pomeranz deal and has played enough since then that he's not eligible for prospect rankings anymore. 

The jury still is out on Davis, so let's focus here on the other two. It would have been enough just to get out from under the final year of Mark Melancon's deal last July, but the Braves threw in two pitchers, including Beck, a tall right-hander who had a 2.27 ERA after the trade and pitched well in the Fall League. The former Stanford star could be in the mix for a rotation spot at some point next season. 

In exchange for Sam Dyson, who pitched horribly for the Twins and then had shoulder surgery, the Giants got Davis, right-hander Prelander Berroa and Teng, who has really interesting minor league numbers. He has allowed just one homer in 122 1/3 pro innings and has 135 strikeouts and a low walk rate. The 21-year-old was in Low-A last year, but scouts think he can be a rotation option in the future. 

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International signing

Aeverson Arteaga (21)

Bobby Evans and the previous regime deserve a ton of credit for getting Marco Luciano, Alexander Canario, Luis Toribio and Luis Matos into the system. If someone like Luciano has come through two or three years earlier, perhaps no jobs would have been lost. 

Zaidi's regime has had just one international signing period because this year's was moved back to next January. But last year the Giants spent $1 million on Arteaga, a Venezuelan shortstop who turns 18 next March. MLB Pipeline says he has the quickness and instincts to stay at shortstop and "an easy right-handed swing."

Using Their Cash

Will Wilson (11)

When the Dodgers hired Andrew Friedman and Zaidi from the Rays and A's, respectively, the goal was to combine small-market ingenuity with deep pockets. The Giants are trying to do the same thing. 

The Wilson trade is the most creative move yet by Zaidi and new GM Scott Harris. With the Los Angeles Angels looking to make a splash in free agency, the Giants took on Zack Cozart's $12.67 million with Wilson, a 2019 first-rounder, attached as the sweetener. Wilson looked good during the Summer Camp and manager Gabe Kapler recently noted he's been a standout in Sacramento. 

"Really strong reports on Will Wilson and his ability to play all three infield positions: second base, shortstop and third base," Kapler said. "He's driving the ball to all parts of the field."

The only downside to this deal was that the Giants cut Cozart so early that he was due his full salary even in a prorated season, weirdly making him the highest-paid Giant this year.

[RELATED: Zaidi flexes creative muscle in two Giants trades in a week]

Minor trades

Basabe (18), Humphreys (26)

Humphreys, 24, came over for Billy Hamilton, who was added as a non-roster invitee a few days before spring training started. Hamilton never played for the Giants and was never even on the 40-man, but stashing that inventory paid off. 

Basabe cost the Giants just some cash and a roster spot, which they opened up by putting Humphreys on the restricted list because of a family issue. Trevor Gott also was acquired for cash considerations at one point, and a year and a half later, he's the team's closer. 

Kapler said the report he got on the 23-year-old Basabe is that he's "tooled up," has good arm strength and speed, and has a solid ceiling. 

"I think this is what makes Farhan and Scott so good at what they do," Kapler said. "To be able to bring in a guy who slots immediately into our top prospects list without giving up too much in return."

Why Giants' Gabe Kapler pulled Kevin Gausman after 80 pitches vs. Dodgers

Why Giants' Gabe Kapler pulled Kevin Gausman after 80 pitches vs. Dodgers

The Giants coaching staff spent weeks preparing for the opening series against the Dodgers, and while some of the pitching decisions looked strange at the time, there's no doubt that overall they worked. The Giants came out with a split, a great result for any team that visits Dodger Stadium these days. 

The second time through called for a bit more spontaneity, coming in the middle of a tough three-city trip. For the second straight night, a decision made when a starting pitcher was nearing the end of his leash backfired. This time it cost the Giants the game and a chance at a series win. 

On Saturday night, Johnny Cueto was allowed to extend to 93 pitches, but a three-run homer on his last one nearly proved costly. A day later, Kevin Gausman was pulled after just 80 pitches, and he watched from the dugout as Tyler Rogers gave up a three-run homer, blowing the lead in a game the Giants would go on to lose 6-2. 

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Gausman had an outstanding fastball going on an 82-degree afternoon, averaging 97 mph for the first time in four years and hitting 99 mph several times. His final pitch was his hardest of the day, a 99.3 mph heater that Cody Bellinger redirected into center field for a one-out single. Kapler came out and held up his right hand as he got to the mound. 

"I think it was just a hot day, seventh time up, third time through the toughest part of the order," Kapler said of the decision. "He had done a tremendous job. He had carried his stuff into that inning, he had carried his location into that inning, and it just felt like the right time to keep him healthy and strong and safe all the way through the season based on getting into the seventh for the first time. 

"At the same time we had a reliever ready who we felt confident could get us a groundball with a runner on first base and get us out of that inning."

Rogers gave up a single to Justin Turner and then struck out Max Muncy. He was on the verge of getting out of the inning, but he grooved a 3-2 curveball to A.J. Pollock and it sailed into the empty bleachers in left. 

Rogers had pitched two strong innings the night before, and the Giants feel he's someone who can bounce back. But the Dodgers were seeing Rogers for the fifth time in 17 days. Pollock had faced him a night earlier and flown out on a curveball. 

[RELATED: What you might've missed as Giants blow lead vs. Dodgers]

Kapler disagreed with the notion that the novelty had worn off when it came to the submariner. 

"I think it's not just novelty with Rog, it's the ability to throw strikes with two pitches that are unusual. It's an unusual look. He can attack the strike zone with those two pitches and they're actually just flat-out good pitches," Kapler said. "Pollock made a nice adjustment, got to two strikes and two outs, and he was able to elevate the ball."

The blast cost Gausman a win on a day when he became the first Giants starter to record a quality start this season. Gausman gave up just three hits in 6 1/3 innings and struck out six. He made a sour face as he came off the field and threw his gum, and said later that he would have liked an opportunity to finish the seventh. 

"I definitely felt like I had more in the tank. My limit is not 80 pitches, but Kap's job is to make those decisions. That's his job description," Gausman said. "I'm not the one that's calling down to the bullpen and getting guys loose, that type of thing. Obviously I thought I pitched well enough to warrant getting a couple more guys out, but we're trying to win the series and it's a hot day. Maybe those were factors in his decision."