Giants

Manny Machado doesn't fit with Giants even if they clear infield space

Manny Machado doesn't fit with Giants even if they clear infield space

SAN FRANCISCO -- Around the country, MLB executives currently are having the debate. Is Manny Machado worth $300 million? Is he a better bet than Bryce Harper? Should we be wary of a player who had a postseason filled with questionable decisions, and openly admits that he isn't big on hustling?

The Giants won't have any of these discussions. 

They are one of the few big-market organizations out on Machado -- the star shortstop/third baseman -- from the start, and not because of financial concerns. 

Machado's preference is to play shortstop, and the Giants have a homegrown three-time Gold Glove Award winner who is signed through 2021 and is one of the franchise's cornerstones. Oh, and just in case you were tempted to try and get creative, Brandon Crawford has a full no-trade clause.

Machado probably should move back to third, where he was one of the best defensive talents the game has seen. At shortstop, he was simply passable, according to metrics and scouts. Even at third base, though, he is blocked in San Francisco. Evan Longoria had a down year, but he is signed through 2022, and that contract wouldn't be easy to move.

It's here that we should stop and acknowledge the most interesting part of the Machado/Giants conversation. He isn't a fit, but when the Giants hired Farhan Zaidi away from the Dodgers, multiple people familiar with his past work noted that one of his first orders of business will be to try and get out from under some contracts. One predicted outright that he will find a way to ultimately trade Longoria's contract. The more likely targets early on will be Brandon Belt and Jeff Samardzija, if the latter can prove he's healthy.

Sound unlikely? The Dodgers swapped bad salaries with the Braves a year ago and managed to stumble upon an All-Star season from Matt Kemp in the process. 

None of this makes Machado any more likely to wear orange and black. If Zaidi, who saw Machado firsthand last season, is able to find takers for some big contracts, he won't turn around and hand another player $300 million. He'll look for breathing room and flexibility. 

Machado will take up the biggest chunk of some team's budget, but even if the Giants had an open spot on their infield, Zaidi likely would back away. Don't forget what he said about the Giants' roster construction on the day he was introduced.

"The No. 1 thing that stands out to me is the importance of selfless play in baseball," he said. "We're in a baseball culture at an amateur level where there's a little bit of a showcase culture and a lot of emphasis on individual performance over the team. I think when you can create a culture where players put team over the individual, that can be a competitive advantage."

Editor's note: This week across the NBC Sports Regional Networks, we'll be taking an in-depth look at some of the top free agents in baseball. Wednesday is dedicated to free agent infielder Manny Machado.

 

Baseball Hall of Fame: Good, bad news for two former Giants on ballot

kentomarap.jpg
AP

Baseball Hall of Fame: Good, bad news for two former Giants on ballot

SAN FRANCISCO -- A pair of former Giants middle infielders made modest gains in Hall of Fame voting, but only one of them seems to have a real shot. 

In his second year on the ballot, Omar Vizquel went from 37 percent to 42.8 percent.

Jeff Kent, now in his sixth year on the ballot, reached a new high of 18.1 percent, but he is far, far away from the 75 percent needed for induction, and he's running out of time. Kent has been between 14 and 18.1 percent in every year he has been on the ballot. 

The Kent case is a bit baffling, as he's the all-time leader in home runs among second basemen, a five-time All-Star and the 2000 National League MVP. He has seemingly been punished for playing in a homer-happy era and having a less-than-stellar defensive reputation, but Kent still seems worthy of far more discussion than he gets on a yearly basis. 

Perhaps Kent will benefit from a bit of a ballot purge, as four players were voted in Tuesday. Mariano Rivera became the first unanimous Hall of Famer and will be joined in the 2019 class by Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, and the late Roy Halladay. Barry Bonds, in his seventh year on the ballot, received just 59.1 percent of the vote. 

Vizquel is one of the best defensive shortstops of all-time and finished his career with 2,877 hits. The 11-time Gold Glove winner played four seasons with the Giants and is an interesting spot. He currently is far from induction, but there are always players who make massive leaps in their final years on the ballot and get to the threshold. Martinez was at 43.4 percent as late as 2016 and Mussina was at 43 percent that year. Both are now Hall of Famers, and with a similar trajectory, Vizquel could join them one day. 

[RELATED: Bonds gains ground, but falls short of Hall of Fame again]

Another player with Giants ties certainly will not. Miguel Tejada got five total votes in his first year on the ballot and will not be eligible again. 
 

Barry Bonds gains votes but remains far from Hall of Fame induction

bondssadap.jpg
AP

Barry Bonds gains votes but remains far from Hall of Fame induction

SAN FRANCISCO — Once again, Barry Bonds saw small gains in Hall of Fame voting, but it wasn't nearly enough. 

Bonds was listed on 59.1 percent of ballots this year, a bump from his total of 56.4 percent in 2018, but remains well short of the 75 percent required to make the Hall of Fame. This was his seventh time on the ballot, meaning he has just three more years of eligibility.

Four players will be inducted this summer, led by former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, who became the first player to be inducted unanimously. Former Mariners star Edgar Martinez easily made it in his final year on the ballot, the late Roy Halladay made it in his first, and longtime Orioles and Yankees ace Mike Mussina made it in his sixth year. 

Bonds, a seven-time MVP and the all-time home run leader, was first on the ballot in 2013, when he got just 36.2 percent of the vote. He dipped to 34.7 percent the next year before going 36.8, 44.3 and 53.8 the next three years. The final jump coincided with Bud Selig, who oversaw the steroid era, getting in, which led many voters to change their minds. 

Bonds has also slightly benefited from younger voters entering the process. According to Ryan Thibodaux’s vote tracker, Bonds was on the ballots of seven of the eight first-time voters who made their choices public before Tuesday’s announcement. Still, it has not been nearly enough. The climb has been slow, and he does not appear to be trending towards induction. 

Bonds and Roger Clemens have always been side by side because of their similar cases. They are all-time greats, worthy of unanimous inclusion if not for PED connections. In recent years, Bonds has mostly stopped commenting publicly about his fate, but he has become more visible in San Francisco. Bonds had his number retired last season as part of an ongoing effort to celebrate his achievements.