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MLB free agency: Three possible under-the-radar signings for Giants

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MLB free agency: Three possible under-the-radar signings for Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- For a second straight offseason, the Giants are using similar language. Team officials talk of transitioning to the future but also playing “competitive” baseball as long as they can in 2020.

Translation: They might not be in on a lot of marquee free agents, but they’re not tanking, either. 

Last season, that led to veterans like Kevin Pillar, Donovan Solano and Stephen Vogt getting a ton of time as the Giants tried to compete while also mixing in plenty of rookies. You can expect plenty more of that in 2020, so here are three under-the-radar options to bolster platoons and the bench without breaking the bank or blocking top prospects: 

Brock Holt

The Giants have talked of making Mauricio Dubon a super-utility player down the line, but for now, he figures to be the starting second baseman, and he could use a left-handed platoon partner as he breaks into the big leagues. 

Holt, 31, started 56 games for the Red Sox last season and posted a .318/.394/.438 slash line against righties last year. Holt doesn’t have huge platoon splits but he had a .788 OPS against righties for the World Series champs the year before and would be an asset as a bench piece who got plenty of starts around the infield. 

Holt can also play the outfield and has experience at third, where Evan Longoria could use left-handed help with Pablo Sandoval coming off surgery and headed to free agency. 

Eric Thames

A graduate of Bellarmine Prep in San Jose, Thames was a popular slugger in Milwaukee but is on the market after the Brewers declined their club option.

Thames hit 29 homers in just 396 at-bats last season and is two years removed from a 31-homer year. The power would play in any park, and Thames also reaches base at a decent career clip (.337) against righties.

The 33-year-old can play the outfield but was mostly a first baseman last year, so he only makes sense if the Giants trade Brandon Belt and commit to giving Buster Posey more time at first base as they break in Joey Bart. 

Wilmer Flores

The Giants know him well, because Flores hit about .600 against them last year. No, really, that’s not an exaggeration. Flores had 14 hits in 24 at-bats against the Giants in 2019, with three homers and three doubles.

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Overall, the 28-year-old had a .848 OPS, although he hit just six homers against teams that don’t play at Oracle Park. Flores has never fully broken out as a hitter, but he generally provides a little bit of pop in spots where it can be hard to find. 

Flores has started all over the infield but is primarily a second baseman currently. If the Giants don’t bring Solano — who is arbitration-eligible — back, they’ll need a veteran to back up Dubon and soak up starts at second when Dubon plays short. 

Bruce Bochy named Team France manager for World Baseball Classic

Bruce Bochy named Team France manager for World Baseball Classic

SAN FRANCISCO -- There was a poorly-kept secret as Bruce Bochy marched toward his final game as manager of the Giants: Bochy was going to manage again in 2020. This week, it became official. 

The France Baseball Association announced that Bochy will manage Team France in the World Baseball Classic qualifier taking place in Tucson, Arizona from March 22-27. France will be competing with Germany, Spain and others to get a spot in the 2021 WBC.

Bochy had met with the association during the summer but had to iron out some details after the season. 

Didier Seminet, the president of the French federation, said he was "proud to announce Bruce Bochy" as manager and noted that Bochy, born in Landes de Bussac, has a "special relationship" with the country. 

"We are very honored and excited that he wishes to seize this opportunity to help the development of French baseball," Seminet said in a statement. 

This is something Bochy has been looking forward to, and he recently said that he's excited about making it a family affair. His brother, Joe, will be on the coaching staff.

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Brett Bochy, a former Giants prospect who pitched for his father at the big league level, will be on the pitching staff. When Brett visited Oracle Park for his father's final series as manager, he said he already was working out in preparation for returning to the mound.

Ron Wotus, a third base coach for Gabe Kapler next season, is also expected to be on the staff

Where new Giants prospect Will Wilson ranks in team's farm system

Where new Giants prospect Will Wilson ranks in team's farm system

The Giants essentially bought veteran infielder Zack Cozart's contract from the Angels on Tuesday to add a talented young prospect.

San Francisco acquired Cozart and middle infield prospect Will Wilson from the Angels for a player to be named later or cash. The Giants are taking on all of Cozart's $12.67 million contract for the 2020 season. Cozart will become a free agent in 2021. The 34-year-old, who has hit just .190 with five home runs the last two seasons, was an All-Star when healthy in 2017, but Wilson is the real prize of the deal. 

Wilson was selected No. 15 overall by the Angels in the 2019 MLB Draft. He immediately became a top-10 Giants prospect after the trade. MLB Pipeline ranks him No. 10 overall in the team's farm system, and FanGraphs has him even higher. 

The 21-year-old hit .275 with a .768 OPS and five home runs in 46 games at rookie ball in his debut season. He played 28 games at shortstop and 13 at second base. President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said Wilson will play both positions in the minor leagues, and the front office believes he will stick as a middle infielder. 

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Wilson was a consensus All-American as a junior at NC State, and was voted ACC Defensive Player of the Year. He hit .352 with nine homers and a 1.089 OPS in his final season for the Wolfpack. 

Prior to being traded to the Giants, Wilson was ranked as the Angels' No. 4 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He comes in lower with San Francisco, showing how much the Giants' farm system is on the rise with top prospects like Joey Bart, Heliot Ramos, Marco Luciano and others.