Giants

MLB free agency: Will Smith signs three-year, $39M Braves contract

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MLB free agency: Will Smith signs three-year, $39M Braves contract

Will Smith is going home. 

The former Giants closer signed a three-year, $39 million contract to join the Braves on Thursday. 

The Georgia native made his first All-Star Game last season with the Giants. He finished 2019 with a perfect 6-0 record, 2.76 ERA and had 34 saves. 

San Francisco acquired Smith from the Brewers on Aug. 1, 2016, right before the MLB trade deadline. The Giants sent former top prospect Phil Bickford and catcher Andrew Susac to Milwaukee, which proved to be a steal of a trade for San Francisco. 

Smith went 1-1 with a 2.95 ERA to finish the 2016 season for the Giants, but then underwent Tommy John surgery the next spring and missed the entire 2017 season. 

The left-hander was stellar in 2018, going 2-3 with a 2.55 ERA and was even better this past season. Smith nearly was automatic on the mound for the Giants and had 96 strikeouts in 65 1/3 innings. 

The Giants handed Smith a $17.8 million qualifying offer going into this offseason that would have kept him in San Francisco for the 2020 season. He signed a multi-year deal with the Braves instead, and the Giants now will receive an extra draft pick next June.

[RELATED: How Smith signing with Braves affects Giants' bullpen]

Smith's tenure in San Francisco certainly was a success, but the Giants now have to find a new closer for next season.

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.