Rangers should trade for Brandon Belt from Giants, ESPN analyst writes


Rangers should trade for Brandon Belt from Giants, ESPN analyst writes

Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi finds himself in quite the conundrum before the July 31 MLB trade deadline.

With an 11-5 win over the Rockies on Wednesday, the Giants completed a four-game sweep at Coors Field and have now won 12 out of their last 14 contests. Prior to the Arizona Diamondbacks facing the Rangers later in the night, San Francisco currently is 2.5 games out for the second NL wild card spot. 

But the Giants appear to be still be sellers at the deadline, ESPN's Jeff Passan reported earlier in the day. If that's the case, the front office could move more than just pitchers Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith. 

If the Rangers -- who recently have slipped in the AL wild card standings -- are buyers, they could be suitors for a Giants bat. Brandon Belt would be a major upgrade at first base over Ronald Guzman, which is one reason why ESPN's Dave Schoenfield believes Texas should make a move for the long-time Giant. 

"They need a first baseman and Belt's numbers would take a leap moving over from San Francisco," Schoenfield wrote Tuesday.

Belt, a Texas native, has hit eight of his 11 home runs on the road this season and his batting average nearly is 70 points higher -- .272 compared to .203 -- away from Oracle Park. He is signed through 2021 at $17.5 million per season, and might not have an easy contract to move, however. 

Trading Belt could open a spot for Zach Green, who is not on the 40-man roster but has hit 22 home runs in Triple-A for the Sacramento River Cats this season. With Belt gone, the Giants could also move Chris Shaw back to first base. The former first-round pick has caught fire in Sacramento and has 18 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A this season. 

[RELATED: How Dickerson has conquered the horrors of Oracle Park]

All of this is speculation, though. Belt hasn't been a name thrown around in trade rumors yet, and it's highly unlikely the Giants actually move the former All-Star this season. 

How Giants manager Gabe Kapler plans to handle veteran core of lineup

How Giants manager Gabe Kapler plans to handle veteran core of lineup

SAN FRANCISCO -- Gabe Kapler spent the last month talking to Giants employees about why he would be the right fit for the job, and on Wednesday he spent nearly an hour on a podium discussing his past and future. But now Kapler plans to listen.

The new Giants manager is three months from the start of spring training and soon after that he'll have to start putting together lineups. On the Giants Insider Podcast, Kapler said he plans to talk to core players before revealing any preferences. 

"An executive in Los Angeles once said to me: 'Know where they've been, know where they are, know where they're going," Kapler said. "In order to know those three things, I need to be able to ask those questions and hear what's going on in their brains."

The arrival of Kapler -- and general manager Scott Harris -- should lead to big changes even if the Giants aren't able to trade any veterans. Bruce Bochy had too much respect for Buster Posey's past accomplishments to move him out of the heart of the order, but Kapler enters without that history.

Brandon Crawford is coming off a down year and could lose time to Mauricio Dubon or a newcomer. Brandon Belt didn't hit for much power last year, but Bochy hit him leadoff at times because of his ability to have good plate appearances, and Kapler complimented Belt during his press conference Wednesday. 

"I've thought a lot about Brandon Belt (and) how impressive it is to watch him take an at-bat, independent of the outcome of the at-bat," Kapler said. "He tends to look over pitches and make really good swing-or-don't-swing decisions."

It'll now be up to Kapler to figure out the best configuration. He said he already has started digging into his new options, and he's excited about meeting the longtime Giants. 

"In preparing for an interview like this, you start to learn the players: The areas where they've taken off since you might have seen them last, the areas where they might have regressed a little bit," he said. "Before any real lineup decisions are made or any strategic decisions are made, tactical decisions, you have conversations with the players. I think that's a really important part of the process that sometimes gets blown past.

"I don't think it makes any sense for me to come in here and say Brandon Belt is going to lead off for us and Evan Longoria will hit in this spot and Buster Posey is going to play 'X' amount of games. All of those things we have an idea and a feel for, but much more importantly, before I make any decision like that or suggest any decision like that, I'll have a conversation with Buster, have a conversation with Evan, find out where they've been."

The perception in some circles is that Kapler was brought in partly because he can have those conversations before taking lineup suggestions from Zaidi, a close friend. But Kapler said he had autonomy in Philadelphia and doesn't expect a change, although he's happy to have input from the front office.

[RELATED: Zaidi lands his guy in Kapler, who must prove he fits Giants]

"I see it as a plus and a positive that Farhan will be invested in what happens on the field," he said. "That's the way it should be. But it's also important to note that I have a fairly strong personality. I've always shared my opinions. I always will share my opinions. We'll just come to the best decisions that help the San Francisco Giants win baseball games."

For more of Kapler's thoughts on strategy, bullpen usage, developing top prospects, his reunion with Zaidi, and those ice cream urban legends, you can stream the Giants Insider Podcast here or download it on iTunes here.

Click here to watch the full Kapler interview

MLB rumors: Yankees interested in free agent pitcher Madison Bumgarner

MLB rumors: Yankees interested in free agent pitcher Madison Bumgarner

This isn’t exactly breaking news, but Madison Bumgarner will be a hot commodity in MLB free agency.

The Atlanta Braves reportedly are the favorites to land the three-time World Series champion, but now another title contender is hoping in adding Bumgarner's services in 2020, after his 11-year run with the Giants.

“I will definitely talk to Bumgarner’s agency,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman reportedly told The San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea at the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz. “I haven’t. But I will.”

The Yankees' interest is far from a surprise. Not only does the franchise have one of baseball’s most expansive payrolls, but it could use a pitcher who sports a series of dominant playoff performances, considering the Yankees haven’t participated in the Fall Classic since 2009, despite seven postseason appearances in that span.

[RELATED: How Kapler explained 'problem solving' in 2015 blog post]

It remains to be seen how aggressive the Giants will be in trying to re-sign Bumgarner, but it’s clear they won’t be the only ones after the left-hander this winter.