MLB rumors: Nolan Arenado, Rockies agree to $260M contract extension


MLB rumors: Nolan Arenado, Rockies agree to $260M contract extension

SAN FRANCISCO — Like Bryce Harper, Nolan Arenado was one of those players some Giants people had quietly circled over the years. He’s a California native who has told Giants folks that he loves playing in the ballpark, so a couple of years ago, they could dream of Arenado and Brandon Crawford once teaming up for a Gold Glove left side of the infield. 

A lot has changed since then. What hasn’t changed is that the Giants will have to continue to search for a solution to their issues against an all-time Giants-killer. 

Arenado and the Rockies are finalizing an eight-year extension worth $260 million, according to multiple reports. The deal gives him the highest annual salary of any position player, and if that’s the path the Giants were going with Bryce Harper, perhaps it raises that price a bit. 

What it certainly does is guarantee a really, really tough out will be around for years to come. Arenado enters the season with a .300 batting average in 107 games against the Giants, but the power numbers are off the charts. He has 24 homers and 91 RBI in 426 at-bats, with a .575 slugging percentage. He’s one of the few sluggers not affected by Oracle Park, with 10 homers and a .525 slugging percentage in 200 at-bats there. 

Those numbers have been mostly put up in recent years, as Arenado was a relatively average hitter against the Giants in 2013-14 as he broke in. Then, in 2015, he hit 10 homers against them in 75 at-bats. The next year he hit five more and drove in 24 runs in 19 games. Early in that season, with Arenado sitting at 14 RBI through seven games against the Giants, I jokingly asked him why he liked destroying them so much. 

“I don’t know what it is,” he said, shrugging and laughing. “They’re a good team. I feel good coming here, and I enjoy coming here and playing here. Whenever you play the Giants you know there’s going to be a game with a lot of drama. I respect them for their competitiveness, and I definitely respect their pitching.”

In 2017 he had just two homers against the Giants, but one was a walk-off that gave him the cycle. Last year, the Giants actually did a pretty good job against Arenado. He had three homers and 13 RBI against them, but his .791 OPS was well over 100 points lower than his total for the season.

[RELATED: Bryce Harper's decision expected by 'end of this week'

Perhaps they can keep that going, or perhaps they can take solace in this: Arenado might have 24 homers against the Giants, but he also has 23 against the Dodgers.

Plus, Paul Goldschmidt is no longer in the division, so there's that. 

Giants lose on Cole Tucker's first career homer, PNC Park lightning policy

Giants lose on Cole Tucker's first career homer, PNC Park lightning policy

PITTSBURGH -- The Giants have found all sorts of different ways to lose games over the past two-plus years, especially on the road. But this was a new one. 

Derek Holland gave up a two-run shot moments before the tarps came out for good. It didn't seriously rain for about 25 more minutes, but PNC Park has a rule that the tarps come out if lightning strikes within four miles of the field. 

The Giants didn't immediately get a chance to counter at the plate, and when the rain started pouring, they could do nothing but wait before the game was called after three hours and eight minutes. They lost 3-1 in five innings

"If it wasn't for bad luck right now," manager Bruce Bochy said, "We wouldn't have any. That's how things are going."

Holland had thrown well early and was in his last inning, with the game tied at one. With a runner on and two outs, rookie Cole Tucker got a fastball that wasn't as far in as Holland wanted and blasted it into the shrubbery in center field. The homer was the first hit of Tucker's career and came in his first start. As Tucker took a dramatic curtain call, Holland struck out the next batter. He thought the game would continue, but the Giants never got another crack at Jameson Taillon. 

"That sucked," Holland said of the final sequence. "It's very upsetting. I felt like I pitched a pretty good game (and) that's the way it's going to finish.

The Giants lost for the fourth time in five games on this trip, dropping six games under .500. It's not like they should have been overmatched, either. The Pirates called up two rookies after a collision in the outfield Friday night and started both former Giants prospect Bryan Reynolds and Tucker, a shortstop who certainly enjoyed his debut.

Holland didn't take exception to that, saying he was focused on getting the final out of the fifth. 

[RELATED: Giants open to moving relievers]

"I don't have anything against the curtain call," he said. "The kid hit a homer in his first game, so congrats. The kid is living in the moment. It's his Major League debut and he hit a homer."

MLB rumors: Giants willing to talk about trading veteran relievers now


MLB rumors: Giants willing to talk about trading veteran relievers now

PITTSBURGH -- After a busy start to the season, Farhan Zaidi has gone nearly two weeks without making a move. The Giants are not currently considering adding any of their Triple-A bats to a struggling lineup, but there still is stuff percolating behind the scenes. 

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported Saturday that the Giants are willing to talk about some of their veteran relievers right now, which would be a continuation of a spring where the Giants tried to deal some of their bullpen depth but ultimately held everyone through Opening Day. 

Before that first game, Zaidi explained why a reliever-for-hitter trade never materialized. 

"When we talked about this over the course of the offseason it was a really deep reliever market in free agency this offseason, and we like our relievers, so they weren't just kind of fodder for us to trade them and acquire other pieces," Zaidi said. "A deal like that certainly made sense on paper, but we didn't line up on anything that we thought made sense for us."

It would continue to make sense for the Giants to seek those kinds of deals. They were right about their bullpen depth and talent, and through 21 games the group has a 2.33 ERA, more than a run lower than any other bullpen in the National League. The .605 OPS allowed is 57 points lower than the next best bullpen. 

It would be hard to get much for some of the newcomers, but if Zaidi could find the right deal for a Sam Dyson, for example, Trevor Gott and Nick Vincent could fill some of those innings, along with a resurgent Mark Melancon, who hasn't allowed a run. The Giants could then bring up a Ray Black or Tyler Beede to fill out the bullpen.

[RELATED: Reynolds' call-up a reminder Giants took too long to change]

The left side is where the Giants really have intriguing pieces to offer, and they got calls on both Will Smith and Tony Watson in the offseason. Either one could help any contender, and there is some left-handed depth with Travis Bergen at the big league level and Andrew Suarez, Pat Venditte and Ty Blach in Triple-A. 

There are plenty of teams out there -- hello, Nationals and Braves! -- who could use the bullpen help right now, and Zaidi has shown he's not afraid to pull the trigger on an early deal, trading for two outfielders in the season's first two weeks. If someone out there is willing to give up a nice package for a Giants reliever, you can bet Zaidi will take that call seriously.