Giants

How veteran Stephen Vogt helped young Giants through up-and-down 2019

How veteran Stephen Vogt helped young Giants through up-and-down 2019

Stephen Vogt was one of the Giants' bright spots in 2019. 

The backup catcher slashed .263/.314/.490 and hit 10 home runs and 40 RBI in 2019, a year after it looked like his major league career was all but over following shoulder surgery. The two-time All-Star was worth 1.02 wins above replacement, his highest WAR total since 2015. 

But Vogt's impact might have been bigger off the field. Bruce Bochy's final season as Giants manager was one of transition, as San Francisco integrated younger and inexperienced players into its lineup. KNBR's Mark Sanchez reported Sunday that Vogt took his younger teammates under his wing in a variety of ways, providing advice at key times and helping them prepare for life in the big leagues. 

“I’ve been all over the map,” Vogt told KNBR. “If there’s any experience that I’ve been through that I can relate to a guy with, of course I want to try to help him get through it faster than it took me to get through it. I wish I would have had more people in my life that would come talk to me when I was struggling. I had people – it’s not like no one would ever help me, a lot of people helped me. So that’s what you do.”

During a road trip to Los Angeles, Vogt purchased suits for rookies Tyler Beede, Shaun Anderson and Mike Yastrzemski to wear on road trips. A veteran had done the same for Vogt early in his career, and he wanted to ensure the tradition would continue. 

“He always made sure that whenever he had the means to do it or he was in a position to buy a suit for a rookie, he would do it,” Beede told KNBR. “And his only thing in return he wants from us is to pay it forward to the next rookie that comes up when we’re in his position to do the same thing. He just has a passion for keeping the positive traditions in baseball going, and you need a guy like that, you know?”

Vogt also helped Anderson, Yastrzemski and outfielder Jaylin Davis through their own rookie-year struggles, advising the trio on how to maintain perspective early in their careers. As a catcher who didn't debut in the big leagues until he was 27 and didn't record his first hit until he was 28, Vogt has enough experience to relate to just about anyone. 

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

The 34-year-old Vogt can become an unrestricted free agent this winter. Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi did not go into specifics about the team's free-agency plans, but he did note San Francisco has "a certain level of interest in bringing all [their possible free agents] back."

Buster Posey's decline and Vogt's experience would make him a good fit at Oracle Park once again, but his ability to connect with young players might be even more important for the rebuilding Giants. 

MLB rumors: Cardinals 'entering the fray' to pursue Madison Bumgarner

MLB rumors: Cardinals 'entering the fray' to pursue Madison Bumgarner

With the Winter Meetings rapidly approaching, MLB free agency is heating up.

One of the top available pitchers -- Madison Bumgarner -- is expected to be in high demand, particularly now that Cole Hamels has signed with the Braves and Zack Wheeler reportedly has agreed to a five-year contract with the Phillies. For teams who scoff at Gerrit Cole's price tag, Bumgarner might be the logical compromise.

The Giants have been "in communication" with Bumgarner, but rumor has it another interested team has entered the mix.

MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reported Thursday that the St. Louis Cardinals have been linked to Bumgarner, citing a source.

St. Louis already has brought back veteran Adam Wainwright on a one-year deal, and after he, Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas and Dakota Hudson, there appears to be an opening for Bumgarner in the starting rotation. Signing with the Cardinals would not only allow Bumgarner to continue pitching in the National League, but would also allow him to continue taking his own at-bats, which we know he loves so much. He also has been linked to teams such as the Twins and White Sox, but would forfeit his at-bats to a DH in each of those situations.

[RELATED: How Wheeler's reported $118M contract could affect MadBum]

While Bumgarner is expected to receive a contract in excess of $100 million, Feinsand suggests Wheeler's reported $118 million payday might serve to increase the total.

MLB rumors: Yankees make signing free agent Gerrit Cole top priority

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MLB rumors: Yankees make signing free agent Gerrit Cole top priority

Gerrit Cole is far and away the gem of the 2019 MLB free-agent class.

The former Pirates and Astros ace led the American League in both ERA and strikeouts last season and finished just behind teammate Justin Verlander in the AL Cy Young Award race.

The team that historically always has had the deepest pockets in baseball -- the New York Yankees -- have made Cole a priority in free agency, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported Thursday, citing a source.

Cole is a Southern California native with familial ties to the Giants, a team that also features one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks in the MLB. San Francisco also has been mentioned as a destination for the ace, who reportedly desires a return to the West Coast.

But if the Yankees, who always have jumped to outbid every other team for talent in free agency, decide to back up the proverbial Brinks truck for the 29-year-old, the Giants might be swiftly eliminated from contention for Cole.

Reports indicate that Cole’s price tag will “shatter” the record set by David Price when he signed a $217 million contract with the Boston Red Sox in 2015.

[RELATED: Report: Giants targeted UGA's pitching coach for same role]

While San Francisco has plenty of money to spend this offseason, it likely won’t engage in a bidding war that could approach $300 million.

Even if longtime Giant and current free agent Madison Bumgarner elects to go elsewhere in free agency, it remains to be seen how much money San Francisco would be willing to shell out for an elite talent like Cole in the heart of his prime.