Giants

How Zack Wheeler's reported $118M contract affects Madison Bumgarner market

How Zack Wheeler's reported $118M contract affects Madison Bumgarner market

A former Giants top prospect is getting over $100 million on the free-agent market, while San Francisco's longtime ace looks to sign his own lucrative contract. 

Zack Wheeler, whom the Giants selected No. 6 overall in the 2009 MLB Draft and traded to the Mets in 2011, reportedly has agreed to five-year contract with the Phillies. The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported Wednesday that Wheeler is signing for $118 million. 

The Athletic's Marc Craig was first to report Wheeler had agreed to terms with the Phillies. 

Does this mean Madison Bumgarner is set for a major payday his first time as a free agent? There are arguments for both sides. 

It really shouldn't come as a shock that Wheeler is getting over $100 million on the open market. MLB Trade Rumors predicted the right-hander would sign a five-year, $100 million contract with none other than the Phillies. But the website has MadBum signing a much cheaper, four-year, $72 million deal with the Twins. 

Those predictions came one month ago on Nov. 5. Much could change in that span, and it appears Bumgarner now is believed to sign a much heftier contract. 

USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported Wednesday that the Braves turned to veteran pitcher Cole Hamels after feeling Bumgarner's price tag likely will exceed $100 million. There are plenty of reasons for Bumgarner and his representatives to believe he deserves nine figures after seeing Wheeler's deal, too. 

After two freak injuries in 2017 and 2018, Bumgarner proved he was healthy and still a workhorse in 2019. Despite turning 30 years old in August, he led the majors with 34 starts and pitched 207 2/3 innings. The left-hander's velocity actually rose, too. 

Bumgarner's average four-seam fastball was 91.72 mph last season, according to Brooks Baseball, which is his highest since 2015. While MadBum is considered an old-school personality, he gave those in the sabermetrics community a big reason for optimism last season. The spin rate on his four-seamer went from 2,081 in 2018 to 2,405 last season, according to Baseball Savant

Though Bumgarner's fastball velocity in 2019 was in just the 10th percentile, his fastball spin rate was in the 87th percentile. 

Wheeler is considered a statcast sweetheart around the industry. He averaged nearly 97 miles per hour on his fastball last year. According to data from Baseball Savant, Wheeler's fastball velocity is in the 94th percentile, his opponent exit velocity is in the 90th percentile and his hard-hit percentage is in 82nd percentile. 

[RELATED: Gabe Kapler hasn't spoken with free agent Madison Bumgarner]

And though Bumgarner only is 10 months older than Wheeler, he has thrown over 1,000 more regular-season innings than the former Met, along with an extra 102 1/3 in the playoffs. 

Don't be surprised if Wheeler still earns more than the World Series hero, but MadBum certainly could sign a much larger contract than first expected on the open market. 

MLB rumors: Jerry Blevins signs minor league contract with Giants

MLB rumors: Jerry Blevins signs minor league contract with Giants

The Giants have signed veteran left-handed reliver Jerry Blevins to a minor-league contract, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported Monday night, citing a source.

The deal includes an invitation to major-league camp, Rosenthal reported.

Blevins responded to Rosenthal's tweet, all but confirming the news.

Blevins has pitched parts of 13 seasons with four different teams. He's spent time with the A's, Nationals, Mets and Braves.

Last season with Atlanta, the 36-year-old posted a 3.90 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 32.1 innings over 45 appearances.

Blevins appears to be another low-risk, high-reward signing by the Giants' front office. If he makes the team out of spring training and shows that he has value, he could be a prime trade candidate ahead of the July 31 trade deadline.

[RELATED: Who starts for Giants on opening day?]

If Farhan Zaidi and Scott Harris can turn Blevins into a future asset, this will look like another stealthy move.

How Antoan Richardson's journey to Giants' staff showed his perseverance

How Antoan Richardson's journey to Giants' staff showed his perseverance

Antoan Richardson was drafted by the Giants in 2005, spent five seasons in the organization as a prospect, and returned last year to be a minor league instructor. But he still will be a fresh face to nearly all of the players when he walks into the clubhouse next month.

It helps to come into that situation with some background in the majors, and Richardson will enter every conversation with two pretty cool highlights in his back pocket.

A speedy outfielder who reached the big leagues with the Braves and Yankees, Richardson notched his first career hit when he poked a single to right off Clayton Kershaw. In one of his final big league games, Richardson raced home from second, beating a strong throw from Baltimore's Nick Markakis to give Derek Jeter a walk-off single in his final at-bat at Yankee Stadium.

Those highlights are nice conversation starters, but what really will stand out as the Giants get to know their new first base coach is a trait that has defined his career: Perseverance. 

Those career highlights came three years apart, as Richardson got four at-bats for the Braves in 2011 as a 27-year-old and then bounced around Double-A and Triple-A before the Yankees called him up in September of 2014. For Richardson, there was never any doubt that he would keep going through those lean years. 

"I come from the Bahamas, it's a small country and I think a lot of my motivation is the people of the Bahamas and recognizing that when you take on a responsibility like this, a responsibility to get to the Major Leagues, there are people that put you in the spotlight," Richardson said last week. "I think continuing to not give up and continuing to pursue things and inspire others and be inspired by others is what kept me going and it's continued to keep me going."

Richardson was beating the odds long before he slid headfirst across the plate as Yankee Stadium erupted. He signed with the Giants as a 35th round pick out of Vanderbilt and was one of just seven players from that class (highlighted by Sergio Romo) to ever suit up in the big leagues. Years before that, Richardson kept pushing after he was cut from his seventh-grade fast-pitch softball team in the Bahamas. 

"You know what it is? It's life, right?" Richardson said, laughing. "Life is going to throw you so many challenges and some of them aren't going to be fun, but you've got to keep going.

"I always tell the story of the buffalo. The buffalo, whenever a storm comes, the buffalo knows that at some point he's going to be on the other side of it. So that's kind of the way I look at it. Whenever the storm comes, keep walking. It feels like forever but at some point you'll be on the other end of it."

Richardson, 36, was one of the last additions to a young staff that will try to lead the Giants out of their current storm. He finished his career in Triple-A with the Dodgers at a time when Farhan Zaidi was the team's general manager and Gabe Kapler was the director of player development, but he didn't know them personally until he met with Kapler at the Winter Meetings last month. Richardson was there to speak at an MLB diversity event.

Less than a month later, the Giants announced that he would be their new first base coach

Kapler said Richardson stood out during the interview process for being thoughtful, introspective and good at self-evaluation.  

“As I was going through my own interview process, I reconnected with Antoan and learned how impactful he is at creating and building a culture dedicated to open communication,” Kapler said. “He brings energy, enthusiasm and excitement to the clubhouse. He’s inquisitive and asks why.

"What 'AR' doesn’t already know about outfield play and baserunning, he’ll go find out. Baserunning is going to be a major point of emphasis for us this year, and Antoan will help everyone on the team improve.”

Richardson’s rise, like so many on this current staff, was meteoric. He was an outfield coordinator in the minors for the Toronto Blue Jays but came back to the Giants last offseason to be a field coordinator for their farm system. He roved throughout the system, overseeing on-field instruction, baserunning, outfield and infield work everywhere from the team's facility in the Dominican Republic to Triple-A Sacramento.

[RELATED: Why Giants' hitting coach compares rebuild to 49ers' rise]

While Richardson is somewhat familiar to many of the team's prospects, he has just one day of experience with the current big leaguers. When previous first base coach Jose Alguacil attended his son’s graduation in June, Richardson was called up to do the job for a day.

He had walked past Oracle Park as a prospect and marveled at the size and look of the place. When Richardson joined Bruce Bochy’s staff for a day, he didn’t take it for granted. Richardson spent some time talking to fellow Vanderbilt alums Tyler Beede and Mike Yastrzemski and then got to work trying to find something that would give the Giants an edge that day. 

The cameo ended up being a preview of a major career move. 

“That was a really cool day,” Richardson said. “I remember Pablo (Sandoval) hit a home run and almost hit my hand off my body when he was coming around first base. And then we won the game, right, so I got to give a high five at the end of that, so that was cool.”