Giants

MLB rumors: Yolmer Sanchez, Giants agree to minor league contract

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USATSI

MLB rumors: Yolmer Sanchez, Giants agree to minor league contract

With two weeks until workouts begin at Scottsdale Stadium, the Giants reportedly have added another player to the mix at second base. 

Yolmer Sanchez, who won a Gold Glove at second base for the White Sox last season, will be in camp as a non-roster invitee, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. According to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, Sanchez turned down two major league jobs in order to compete for the starting job in San Francisco. 

The Giants ended 2019 with Mauricio Dubon providing excitement at second base, but the plan is for Dubon to move around this season, getting starts at shortstop as well and possibly filling the hole in center field. Sanchez, a switch-hitter, will enter the spring competing with Dubon and Donovan Solano for playing time at second base. 

The 27-year-old was a surprise Gold Glove winner last season, beating out Jose Altuve and D.J. LeMahieu to become the first White Sox position player to win a Gold Glove since 1998. Sanchez grew up idolizing Omar Vizquel, and he led AL second basemen last season with 11 Defensive Runs Saved. 

That was not enough, however, to keep him on the roster of an up-and-coming White Sox team. The defense had Sanchez due for a raise in arbitration and the White Sox waived him in early December. 

While Sanchez is elite with the glove, he has been a light hitter in the big leagues. Sanchez had a .252/.318/.321 slash line last year with two homers in 555 plate appearances. By OPS+, he has been below league average as a hitter in all six of his big league seasons, but he did do a decent job against lefties last season -- posting a .738 OPS -- and that could put him in the lineup with Dubon or Solano at times.

Sanchez also has experience at third base and the Giants do not currently have a backup for Evan Longoria. 

[RELATED: Giants to have a competition for backup catcher]

The Giants jettisoned a player with a similar profile -- Joe Panik -- last summer and turned the job over to Dubon, who had a .754 OPS down the stretch. A starting group of Sanchez, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford and Longoria would give the Giants one of the strongest defensive infields in the NL, although they'll have to find offense somewhere.

The lineup still has not been notably upgraded this offseason, though.

Dereck Rodriguez to start Gabe Kapler's first game as Giants manager

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AP

Dereck Rodriguez to start Gabe Kapler's first game as Giants manager

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Gabe Kapler announced his starter for Saturday's Cactus League opener and then later noted, "I wouldn't read anything into" the decision. But it's still a big deal for the organization, with Kapler making his debut, and the game could be a pretty important one for the pitcher chosen to throw the first pitch. 

Dereck Rodriguez will kick things off against the Dodgers on Saturday, weather permitting. Two years after he broke through, Rodriguez is on the outside of the rotation race, with the far more likely scenario being a bullpen job. But even that race is crowded, and Rodriguez will be one of the first to get a shot to impress.

Asked about his conversations with Rodriguez, Kapler said he doesn't think the 27-year-old right-hander needs any extra motivation. 

"My sense is that he's pretty self-critical and is tough on himself, and I think some of the up and down has been tough on him," Kapler said. "Frankly there hasn't been as much velocity in 2019 as there was in '18. He's made some progress this spring with that. He's had a little bit more velocity in his bullpens."

[RELATED: Panda caught Kapler's attention during first live BP]

Rodriguez's average fastball velocity dropped about one MPH from 2018 to 2019. His ERA jumped from 2.81 to 5.64. Kapler said that Rodriguez, like many of the younger pitchers in camp, needs to focus on flexibility and being able to do both roles. He's expected to throw two innings Saturday.

Kapler plans to have Buster Posey, Evan Longoria and Brandon Belt in that first lineup. The plan has tentatively been for Brandon Crawford to play, too, although the shortstop missed a couple of days earlier this week because he got sick. 

Why Giants brought in ASU football coach Herm Edwards as guest speaker

Why Giants brought in ASU football coach Herm Edwards as guest speaker

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants brought puppies into their new facility at Scottsdale Stadium on Thursday afternoon and encouraged players to go spend some time with them as the organization's marketing arm took photos and videos.

The activity in the morning was a bit more serious. 

Herm Edwards, the head coach at Arizona State and a longtime coach in the NFL, visited the clubhouse in the morning to kick off a guest speaker series that the new staff has instituted. Edwards grew up in Seaside and was a Giants fan. He was an easy choice as a guest speaker since he's right down the road in Tempe.  

"He shared with our players that he recognizes that they're all independent contractors, but then once we're in that room together we're a team and we're fighting for one another," manager Gabe Kapler said. "I thought it was a really powerful message at a really good time of camp. I think our players and staff both benefited from having Coach Edwards in the building this morning."

Kapler had never met Edwards before Thursday morning. He said the staff has kicked around names to be brought in as other guest speakers. 

"We will be looking for people to come in and share stories but we're not going to overdo it, either," Kapler said. "We want impactful people to be spliced into camp and have a nice balance between fun and lighthearted things in the morning that keeps the entire group loose, and then some more serious messages. In some cases like this morning, a combination of both. He has the ability to make people laugh and hold the attention of the room. A powerful speaker."

[RELATED: Kapler shows support for Brandon Belt]

Kapler said players seemed to enjoy their time with Edwards, who was legendarily intense during his NFL days. And yes, when it came time to ask questions, one of them did raise his hand and ask Edwards why you play the game.