MLB rumors: DJ LeMahieu agrees with Yankees after interest from Giants


MLB rumors: DJ LeMahieu agrees with Yankees after interest from Giants

The Giants slow offseason continues. 

Despite previous reports that the team was interested in former Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu, the 30-year-old agreed to a deal with the Yankees, per YES Network's Jack Curry: executive reporter Mark Feinsand reported the deal is worth $24 million, pending a physical.

The original report stating that the Giants had their eyes on the former All-Star indicated Joe Panik was being shopped around. Panik is coming off a career-worst season, where he boasted a .254 batting average with four long balls and 24 RBI in 102 games. 

Curry added the Yankees will be using LeMahieu all over the diamond, having him play first, second and third base. And while he's spent the majority of his career at second, his earlier years in the league show he can play just about anywhere in the infield, which would have been a nice treat for the Giants. Still, he's only played in 50 games anywhere other than second, so his success elsewhere will remain to be seen.

Brandon Crawford has shortstop locked up as his own, but being able to place LeMahieu wherever the job was needed would have been a huge plus.

LeMahieu finished his 2018 campaign with the Rockies slashing .276/.321/.428 where he earned the third Gold Glove Award of his career. 

How Giants' park dimensions, location can help free agent recruiting


How Giants' park dimensions, location can help free agent recruiting

SAN FRANCISCO — For years, Giants officials have grumbled about the impact their home ballpark has on negotiations with free agents.

It’s no secret that sluggers do not want to play 81 games at Oracle Park, and the Giants have been kept from large portions of the position player market over the past decade. 

Farhan Zaidi will have to figure out a way to build an offense for his new park, but when it comes to another set of free agents, he’s not shying away from the dimensions at Third and King.

Multiple agents for free agents pitchers have mentioned this winter that Zaidi is using the pitcher-friendly park as one of his main selling points, and Zaidi said that’ll be an emphasis going forward. 

“Especially for guys looking for short-term deals, it’s very attractive,” Zaidi said at the Winter Meetings. “It’s a platform for guys coming off down years to come in and be productive, help us win games, and then also set themselves up well going forward.”  

Giants pitchers had a 3.62 ERA at home last season but it jumped to 4.29 on the road. A year earlier, they were third in the NL with a 3.73 home ERA, but ranked 11th on the road at 5.34.

The ballpark can be a pitcher’s best friend, hiding issues for even the best on the staff. When the Giants engaged in trade talks about Madison Bumgarner this winter, you can bet executives on the other side of the table brought up the 4.97 ERA on the road last season, which was more than three runs above his home ERA of 1.63.

Tony Watson, another potential trade chip, saw his ERA jump 2.46 runs when he got away from Oracle Park. 

Zaidi will have to deal with those issues when negotiating with other teams. But the flip side of that is an ability to use the park as a major selling point for free agents looking for a soft landing spot.

“We’ve found that, for players that have been in the National League West and have played a lot of games at (Oracle Park), it is a draw,” Zaidi said. “They know how energetic the crowd is and what a fun atmosphere it is. Any place you can look for an advantage in recruiting, you try to have that be part of your game plan. For pitchers looking to come here, to pitch in a friendly environment is certainly something we’re going to look to take advantage of.”

Zaidi hopes to add at least one more starter to the mix this offseason, perhaps another reclamation project like Derek Holland. While Holland’s ERA was virtually similar at home and on the road in his first season with the Giants, there were some big differences in the underlying numbers. His walk rate was far higher on the road and he allowed 14 homers in road games as opposed to just five at Oracle Park. 

Holland also has given plenty of credit to pitching coaches Curt Young and Matt Herges and catcher Buster Posey, and the Giants use that as a draw, too. But the ballpark is the easiest sell, in part because it’s guaranteed to always be there. Lineups and coaching staffs will change, but the Giants have no plans to alter the dimensions of their outfield, making their permanent home an ideal spot for any type of pitcher. 

Perhaps this will allow the Giants to stay away from the types of massive contracts they have given to the likes of Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, and Mark Melancon, knowing that lesser pitchers can take a massive step forward at Oracle Park. If the Giants are able to consistently do that, they’ll be able to save their resources, which will be needed.

They’ll always need to overpay to get the other half of the game’s best players — hitters — to Oracle Park, and you might see them going after a few more like Troy Tulowitzki, a Sunnyvale native who was a target but chose the Yankees.  

[RELATED: Zaidi reveals timetable for Giants' next move]

"I love hearing that a guy is a Bay Area native, and if not a Bay Area native, a California native," Zaidi said. "I think that’s a certain pull. California guys want to play in this state."

Giants front office hire Matt Daniels boasts strong résumé in pitching


Giants front office hire Matt Daniels boasts strong résumé in pitching

The Giants finally made a move.

This time, however, the moves are in the baseball operations department with the recent addition of Matt Daniels.

On Tuesday, Daniels announced on Twitter he accepted a position as the coordinator of pitching analysis:

Daniels comes from the Driveline Baseball program in Kent, Wash. that prides itself on being a world-class pitching and hitting training facility driven by data.

"First of all, he has a very strong work ethic," Mike Rathwell, CEO of Driveline Baseball, told NBC Sports Bay Area. "So, I think that's one thing that's going to bode him well, and secondly as our company has grown and the volume of high-profile athletes that we have come into contact with has expanded, Matt has been there all the way, along the way."

Rathwell said originally Daniels was working with high school and college players, but he was with Driveline when they were working with Caleb Cotham, Casey Weathers and Indians All-Star pitcher Trevor Bauer very early on.

"That transitioned into working with fringe, Major League Baseball players, who were either rehabbing with us or trying to regain velocity," he added.

Most recently, in the last few years, Daniels has been a part of pitch design work as well as working closely with free agent pitcher Adam Ottavino.

Ottavino is one of many on an already impressive Driveline client list.

Former Giants Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum trained there as well as Bauer who sings the praise of the program in which he spends most of his time improving his craft, working on his velocity development and pitch design in the offseason. He even said he "wouldn't be anywhere close to where I am" without this approach.

Bauer has also spoken out about the research components that go into his pitching successes and Daniels has known the pitcher for a long time.

[RELATED: Giants sign Derek Holland to one-year deal]

Daniels will be a strong addition to a team that is trying to take a different, rebuilding approach to its organization.

And while it's interesting to see the rebuilding process is starting from as outward as possible, Daniels has risen through the ranks successfully and will only be a positive addition for the Giants.