Giants

Potential trade partner set to get up-close look at Madison Bumgarner

Potential trade partner set to get up-close look at Madison Bumgarner

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants are still more than two months from what will be one of the most important trade deadlines in franchise history, but team officials aren't waiting around for July 31 to get closer. 

The prep work started long ago, with the front office identifying potential fits for their most tradable players. The biggest fish is Madison Bumgarner, and as some in the organization started to scout potential destinations, they found themselves laughing over a similarity. 

The Giants have a pretty good idea of the teams, fewer than a dozen, that could realistically make a deal work, and when Bumgarner and his representatives presented their updated no-trade list, they had hit just about every option. The list, first reported by The Athletic, is a slick one.

Forget about location or the DH or any of that. Bumgarner picked eight teams that should be contending and could be in need of a starter: the Braves, Red Sox, Cubs, Astros, Brewers, Yankees, Phillies and Cardinals. 

A few of those teams have scouted him already, but the Braves on Thursday will become just the second, joining the Yankees, to face him this year, and the Braves long have been rumored as a top choice. Atlanta is as close as it gets to Bumgarner's North Carolina home, and the young team certainly could use a seasoned starter to lead a potential postseason rotation.

The Braves have key members of their front office, including GM Alex Anthopoulos -- who worked with Farhan Zaidi in Los Angeles and spent plenty of time with him this week -- in San Francisco, but if they truly are after Bumgarner, they could find themselves in the middle of a staring contest. 

Bumgarner put together a list that would allow him to keep some leverage and control, but the Giants do not seem all that worried. Ultimately, a trade is best for Bumgarner's financial future because it would keep the Giants from hitting him with the qualifying offer that shrunk the markets of Dallas Keuchel, Craig Kimbrel and others. 

Some rival officials surveyed in recent weeks on Bumgarner's next deal are split. There are certainly plenty of admirers still out there in front offices, but most say Bumgarner will definitely be hurt if he's attached to a draft pick. 

The Giants do not seem to be anticipating having to pay any sort of assignment bonus to Bumgarner in order for him to accept a trade, although it's possible a new team could do so in order to make a deal come together more quickly and get an extra start or two out of the left-hander. Bumgarner also could ask for a window to negotiate an extension with a new team, although again, his best shot at a huge payday is true free agency.

It's common for veterans to have some sort of no-trade protection -- just about every high-salaried Giant has a clause in his contract -- but it's relatively rare for a player to actually block a trade at the deadline. Adam Jones was a notable exception last year, rejecting a proposed trade from the Orioles to the Phillies. 

"I earned this, and it's my decision," he said at the time. 

[RELATED: Bochy mixes up pregame routine hoping for quicker starts]

Part of this will be Bumgarner's decision, too, and he has said repeatedly that he would like to stay in San Francisco long-term. But he now plays for an organization that has accepted the high likelihood of a Bumgarner trade this summer, and people close to the pitcher say the constant losing has weighed heavily on him. More than anything, Bumgarner wants another shot at October, and ultimately the teams on his no-trade list are the ones who can give him that opportunity. 

The odds are good he'll end up in one of those eight spots. The Braves are one of them, and they'll get their best look at a potential target this afternoon. 

Farhan Zaidi knows Buster Posey's backup is big decision for Giants

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AP

Farhan Zaidi knows Buster Posey's backup is big decision for Giants

Joey Bart is not making the Giants' Opening Day roster, no matter how well he does this spring in big league camp. It's simple as that. 

San Francisco's top catching prospect likely will start the season in Triple-A Sacramento. He might be the Giants' most talented catcher behind Buster Posey, but the backup job will have to go to someone else. 

The Giants' battle to be Posey backup currently consists of 30-year-old Rob Brantly and 28-year-old Tyler Heineman. Both players spent the majority of last season in Triple-A and haven't played many games in the big leagues. That's a huge step down from Stephen Vogt, who had a great season for the Giants last year. 

And Farhan Zaidi knows it. Zaidi, the Giants' president of baseball operations, recently showed belief in the two catchers but made it clear the front office might make another move. 

"That backup catcher role, if you're playing once or twice a week -- having a guy who can give you quality at-bats is really important," Zaidi said Monday on KNBR's "Murph & Mac Show." Both of those guys can do that. 

"They both have legitimate shots, but we also told those guys, 'Hey, we may go out and get somebody else. Either somebody else who's in the competition or maybe even jumps to the front of the line.' So those guys are aware of that, and we'll keep an eye out. We'll keep looking for the best possible option."

With only a handful of spring training games in the book, it seems a move isn't imminent. 

"I don't want to diminish the in-house chances that these guys have to win that job," Zaidi continued. "Again, they're not necessarily the most proven options at the big league level, but we like what we've seen so far." 

[RELATED: Bochy praises Bart, will have large role in minor leagues]

Posey caught 101 games last season, and 88 the year before. He still is one of the best defensive catcher in baseball, but as he turns 33 years old in one month, manager Gabe Kapler would be wise to limit Posey's innings behind the plate. Quietly, backup catcher is one of the most important positions on the Giants. 

Bart is expected to be in San Francisco at some point this season. That won't be right away, though. Either Brantly or Heineman figure to be on the roster next month. That is, unless the Giants make a move. 

Help eventually is on the way, but the Giants have a big decision to make in order to get the best out of Posey and the rest of their roster.

Giants excited to see Yolmer Sanchez's revamped swing, fun celebration

Giants excited to see Yolmer Sanchez's revamped swing, fun celebration

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — When Derek Holland was designated for assignment last July, the Giants lost their best celebration. Holland’s water jug became a staple of walk-off wins, so much so that a couple of teammates grabbed jugs to cap the walk-offs that occurred after Holland had been let go. 

This year’s team will have a new set of signals and celebrations, and the Giants have a new infielder who seems well-positioned to earn fan-favorite status. Yolmer Sanchez takes walk-off wins to a different level:

Sanchez said he started dousing himself because he simply likes to have fun, and he pointed out that you never know how long your big league career will last. You have to make the most of it. 

“I try to enjoy my time and enjoy everything that we do as a group,” he said. “I did it and the fans liked it so I continued to do it.”

The Giants are hoping Sanchez is doing more than just celebrating big hits. They are confident in his bat and the adjustments he’s making, and they’re counting on him to add production to the infield. 

Sanchez won a Gold Glove at second base last year -- he said his goal is to repeat and also win the Platinum Glove given to the league’s best defender -- and the Giants already have seen his slick feet and quick hands in action this spring. But they were more encouraged by what they saw in an early live BP session, when he pulled a homer comfortably over the wall. 

“That was kind of cool to see him square up a fastball and be on time with his swing and drive the ball to the air on the pull side,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “One thing we always know about Yolmer is his defense is always going to be there, so to the degree that some of those swing changes can take effect, we see him as being a really impactful player for us.”

Like most in camp, Sanchez is making subtle changes with a new Giants hitting coach. But his version of the story has a twist. He started working with hitting coach Justin Viele earlier this offseason when Sanchez was still with the White Sox and Viele was a minor league coach for the Dodgers. The two have reunited at Scottsdale Stadium, continuing to work on a new swing path that ideally will have Sanchez hitting more balls up the middle and to the gaps.

“I think that’s one of the things that was exciting about coming here,” Sanchez said of Viele. “He knows what I can do. If I feel good, if I feel comfortable, I believe in my talent and I believe I can do way better than last year, and I’m going to prove it.”

The 2019 numbers were low enough that the White Sox, who spent heavily over the offseason, non-tendered one of the league’s better defenders. Sanchez had a .638 OPS and just two homers, and his OPS+ was below league average for the sixth consecutive season.

But the Giants see some stretches in Sanchez’s past that could make him a good fit for their infield. He had a .738 OPS against lefties last year and was at .724 with eight homers the year before against righties. If the switch-hitter swings that way from either side, he would fit the platoon-heavy roster. 

Regardless, the glove work is so elite that Sanchez has been worth 8.2 WAR over the past three seasons. That should put him in the middle infield mix with Brandon Crawford, Mauricio Dubon, Wilmer Flores and Donovan Solano.

[RELATED: Bochy praises Bart, will have large role in minor leagues]

Sanchez turned down big league offers to come to San Francisco as a non-roster invitee. He’s hoping to win an everyday job and provide some production for the lineup, but if he’s in the dugout when the winning run is scored, Sanchez will be ready to contribute in a far funnier way. He smiled when asked if the Gatorade dumps will make a comeback. 

“We’ll see, that’s something that I don’t practice,” Sanchez said. “But I think at the right moment, I will do it, yeah.”