Giants

MLB free agency: Should Giants explore Anthony Rendon this offseason?

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MLB free agency: Should Giants explore Anthony Rendon this offseason?

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Nationals are World Series champions, but for the second straight offseason, they face a hell of a dilemma. Like Bryce Harper before him, Anthony Rendon is the top hitter on the free-agent market, and the Nationals could find that they're outbid and lose a second superstar. 

Rendon has quietly been one of the most valuable players in baseball over the past four years, and he finally got the attention he deserves as the Nationals stunned the NL field and then the Astros. Rendon repeatedly swung games in the late innings, further bolstering what was already going to be a very, very strong case to suitors:

Depending on your preferences, he is either the top player on the market or 1A to Gerrit Cole. We looked at Cole and the Giants yesterday. Today, we look at the case for chasing Rendon. It might seem farfetched, but the Giants went after Harper a year ago, and Rendon is actually the better player. 

Pros

No, seriously, Harper got all the attention but Rendon was the best Nationals hitter in recent years. He batted .319 last season with a .412 on-base percentage, .598 slugging percentage and a WRC+ of 154 that trailed just Christian Yelich and Cody Bellinger in the National League. 

Rendon finished behind only those two in the MVP race and ranked seventh in the Majors with a 7.0 fWAR. Over the last four seasons, Rendon trails just Mike Trout, Yelich and Mookie Betts in FanGraphs' version of WAR. 

There's absolutely no doubt about his talent, but what about the fit? The Giants have Evan Longoria locked in at third but could move pieces around for the right hitter. They tried to swap Longoria's salary for similarly-paid outfielders last offseason and could go down that path again. Or they could move him to first and trade Brandon Belt. 

Rendon might not be as famous as a Harper or Manny Machado but he's absolutely the type of player you get creative for, and he's exactly the type of hitter the Giants need. This is still a lineup that has too many wasted at-bats, and Rendon's patience and simple approach would fit well as the Giants work in their next generation of potential cornerstones. 

Cons

This is where we usually go, "Well, the money is going to be insane." But the Giants went down this same path with Scott Boras last year, so the real question is, "Why would a Rendon chase be different than the Harper one?"

First, there's the age. Rendon turns 30 next summer and his defense already is starting to slip a bit. The Giants were ready to pay for Harper's late 20s with the knowledge that they could always slide him over to left field as he slowed down. It's a bit trickier when you're talking about a 29-year-old infielder. 

Second, as mentioned yesterday with Cole, there was a business side to the Harper conversations that wouldn't be there with Rendon. He is not one who seeks the spotlight and the word around the game is that he's not the face-of-the-franchise type. That matters when you're talking about $300 million deals. 

While the Giants could clear a spot for Rendon, it's not the cleanest fit because Longoria was one of their better hitters last year and the holes elsewhere are much larger. That's a lot of shuffling for a roster that's at least a year away from contention. 

[RELATED: Would Gerrit Cole be right for Giants?]

The Giants went after Harper nine months ago thinking that he could be their cornerstone moving forward but also help an aging core in 2019. It turns out there was nothing that could have made that group competitive, so they'll be better off taking a step back this offseason when it comes to the market's top hitter. This upcoming season will again be about building and transitioning. 

They should probably still make the phone call, though. While most around the game think Rendon will end up back in Washington D.C., the Dodgers are looming and could easily move Justin Turner across the diamond. At the very least, getting involved with Rendon would raise the price for rivals. 

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.