How Will Smith signing with Braves in free agency affects Giants' future


How Will Smith signing with Braves in free agency affects Giants' future

SAN FRANCISCO -- So much of the talk in recent weeks has been about Madison Bumgarner heading home to play for the Atlanta Braves. But Bumgarner, from nearby North Carolina, wasn't the marquee Giants free agent who truly had strong connections to Atlanta. 

Closer Will Smith is from the Georgia area and spends his offseasons in Atlanta, where he lives and dies -- usually the latter -- with his beloved Falcons. Smith had hoped for an opportunity to go back home as a free agent, but more than that, he wanted a chance to play for a contender.

On Thursday, he found his perfect situation. 

A free agent for the first time, Smith turned down the Giants' $17.8 million qualifying offer and instead signed a three-year deal with the NL East-champion Braves that guarantees him $39 million and includes a club option that could make it a $52 million deal. 

According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Smith's agent, Jeff Berry of CAA, told teams that Smith would sign the one-year qualifying offer with the Giants if they did not come up better offers by Thursday's 2 p.m. ET deadline to accept or decline. The Braves took him up on it, announcing the deal 19 minutes before the deadline.

For Smith, an All-Star closer and very popular Giant, this is the best possible outcome. For the Giants, there are pluses and minuses. 

Given their situation, the Giants were unlikely to pay that much for a closer in free agency, so Farhan Zaidi took a risk and put the QO on Smith. While $17.8 million would be a lot for a reliever, Zaidi knew that it was not far from the average annual salary you would expect to pay for a high-end free agent closer. He would have been fine with paying Smith that much for one year, knowing that he could try to trade him again in July, and that the ninth inning would be taken care of in the meantime. 

That leads to the downside here. The current closer is ... Tony Watson? Maybe Shaun Anderson? What was one of the best bullpens in the National League in the first half of 2019 has been decimated, with Mark Melancon and Sam Dyson being traded in July, Smith leaving as a free agent, and Reyes Moronta having shoulder surgery.

Looked at individually, those moves have worked out well. The Giants somehow got out from under Melancon's contract and Dyson, once viewed as the 2020 backup plan if Smith left in the offseason, had his own shoulder surgery. The Giants were likely to lose Smith all along, and because of the risk Zaidi took, they'll now get a compensatory draft pick somewhere around the 80th pick in next June's draft, along with excess pool money. 

But grouped together, all these moves have left the new-look front office with some serious lifting to do. They basically have to build an entire bullpen for Gabe Kapler, who didn't get rave reviews for the way he handled that part of the game in Philadelphia. Kapler has vowed to be better the second time around, but he certainly won't be starting out with an experienced group of relievers. 

This is a hit to the 2020 Giants' chances and a hit to the clubhouse. Smith, a Willie Mac Award winner, was well-liked by staffers, coaches and teammates and took young relievers under his wing. He was as dependable as it got in the ninth inning, eliminating the "torture" that's become so infamous at Oracle Park. 

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But it's a hit the Giants expected, and one that was probably unavoidable. Privately, Smith always wanted to head back home. He is desperate to wipe away the sour memories of the 2016 NLDS, his lone postseason experience.

He should get a chance to do it in 2020, playing in front of family members and friends. 

Giants' Mike Krukow, Duane Kuiper tell hilarious Will Clark sushi story

Giants' Mike Krukow, Duane Kuiper tell hilarious Will Clark sushi story

Not everyone has a taste for sushi, especially Will Clark.

The Giants legend is the guy who simply orders a steak at dinner -- he’s simple and to the point.

Giants broadcasters Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper told a funny story in a recent interview with Giants reporter Amy Gutierrez from a night out at dinner with "The Thrill."

Clark glanced at the menu at the sushi restaurant and was nice about it of course, but it wasn’t his cup of tea. Where Clark is from in Louisiana, they refer to that type of food as “bait.”

That's fair. 

The Giants announced they will retire Clark’s No. 22 jersey this season -- and rightfully so.

His sweet swing and swagger made him one of the organization’s most well-known players to ever wear orange and black.

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Clark is a six-time All-Star selection, a Gold Glove Award winner and two-time Silver Slugger Award recipient across his 15-year career, eight of them with the Giants.

A great career, just perhaps no salmon for him in the future? 

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Why Giants' Alex Dickerson finally can play MLB The Show once again

Why Giants' Alex Dickerson finally can play MLB The Show once again

While baseball continues to be on hiatus amid the coronavirus pandemic and MLB comes up with wild, "Looney Tunes" hypotheticals to start the season, players all across the majors are testing out their thumbs. 

This might be the most professional baseball players ever have played the video game, MLB The Show. Giants outfielder Alex Dickerson is among the many players getting on the sticks in the latest iteration, MLB The Show 20. 

"That's always kind of been my go-to ever since I was a kid," Dickerson said Wednesday on KNBR's "Murph & Mac Show."

This is an odd time for Dickerson for many reasons. Somehow his video game habits have even gone haywire. 

Yes, he always has been a big fan of gaming. But, he usually has to stay away from MLB The Show. 

"The one of thing I've always avoided is MLB The Show, because the game has gotten too realistic, that if I play it in-season and I'm struggling to pick up curveball down or something, I go home and just re-live the experience of not being able to pick it up," Dickerson said. "So that just frustrates me." 

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That's a totally understandable reason to stay away from the game. Luckily for Dickerson, he put up video game-like numbers in late June and July last season after joining the Giants in a trade from the San Diego Padres.

From June 21 through July 30, Dickerson hit .386 with six homers and a 1.222 OPS over 19 games. With baseball on break, he's back to playing the game and certainly could be once again in the future if he has another hot streak like last season. 

"I've actually been playing it because I miss baseball so much," Dickerson said. "But yeah, I tend to cut that game out as soon as I'm actually playing."

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Players aren't the only ones firing the game up, too. Even Giants manager Gabe Kapler is finding ways to learn through MLB The Show. Dickerson isn't surprised, either.

"I can definitely see how he can use it to his advantage," Dickerson said.