Giants

Stephen Vogt's championship desires might hinder Giants return in 2020

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Stephen Vogt's championship desires might hinder Giants return in 2020

Perhaps the biggest surprise for the Giants this season came from a 34-year-old who grew up rooting for San Francisco. Catcher Stephen Vogt had one of the best seasons of his career, after not even playing in the major leagues in 2018. 

Vogt suffered a possible career-ending shoulder injury while on a minor league rehab assignment as part of the Brewers in May 2018. He battled his way back and signed a minor league contract with the Giants in February. 

The former two-time All-Star for the A's hit .241 with three homers and an .889 OPS in 17 games with Triple-A Sacramento. The veteran catcher was even better once he was called up to the Giants. 

Vogt played in 99 games for the Giants, serving as a perfect backup spot starter behind the dish and bat off the bench. He even played a little bit of left field. The versatile left-handed hitter finished with a .263 batting average (his highest since 2014), a .490 slugging percentage (career high), .804 OPS (career high) and 10 home runs. 

His 1.2 bWAR was the sixth-highest of all Giants position players. 

After resurrecting his career, Vogt, who now is a free agent, has championship aspirations for his next team. 

“I want to go somewhere where I have the opportunity to win a World Series,” Vogt, who turns 35 on Friday, said Tuesday on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM, via KNBR. “That’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. I’m really looking forward to hopefully having opportunities to do that.”

That might not bode well for a possible return to San Francisco. As NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic put it Wednesday night after the Nationals won the World Series, the Giants have a long list of question marks going into the offseason. 

Vogt likely doesn't have many years left in his playing career. He's one of the most liked clubhouse presences in the game, though, and proved he can still hit in the big leagues. Any contender could use him, despite his age and inability to throw out runners attempting to steal second or third base.

[RELATED: Sources: Giants down to three in search for new manager

With top prospect Joey Bart on the way and the Giants hoping a healthy offseason will get Buster Posey back on track, it could be hard to get Vogt his desired, and earned, at-bats in 2020. In a perfect world, he would return and be used off the bench and as help in the squat and possibly even left field and first base, while serving as a mentor for San Francisco's young players. 

Don't count on that, though. Vogt wants a ring. The odds don't favor the Giants going to a jeweler next year, at least not right now.

MLB rumors: Cardinals 'entering the fray' to pursue Madison Bumgarner

MLB rumors: Cardinals 'entering the fray' to pursue Madison Bumgarner

With the Winter Meetings rapidly approaching, MLB free agency is heating up.

One of the top available pitchers -- Madison Bumgarner -- is expected to be in high demand, particularly now that Cole Hamels has signed with the Braves and Zack Wheeler reportedly has agreed to a five-year contract with the Phillies. For teams who scoff at Gerrit Cole's price tag, Bumgarner might be the logical compromise.

The Giants have been "in communication" with Bumgarner, but rumor has it another interested team has entered the mix.

MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reported Thursday that the St. Louis Cardinals have been linked to Bumgarner, citing a source.

St. Louis already has brought back veteran Adam Wainwright on a one-year deal, and after he, Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas and Dakota Hudson, there appears to be an opening for Bumgarner in the starting rotation. Signing with the Cardinals would not only allow Bumgarner to continue pitching in the National League, but would also allow him to continue taking his own at-bats, which we know he loves so much. He also has been linked to teams such as the Twins and White Sox, but would forfeit his at-bats to a DH in each of those situations.

[RELATED: How Wheeler's reported $118M contract could affect MadBum]

While Bumgarner is expected to receive a contract in excess of $100 million, Feinsand suggests Wheeler's reported $118 million payday might serve to increase the total.

MLB rumors: Yankees make signing free agent Gerrit Cole top priority

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MLB rumors: Yankees make signing free agent Gerrit Cole top priority

Gerrit Cole is far and away the gem of the 2019 MLB free-agent class.

The former Pirates and Astros ace led the American League in both ERA and strikeouts last season and finished just behind teammate Justin Verlander in the AL Cy Young Award race.

The team that historically always has had the deepest pockets in baseball -- the New York Yankees -- have made Cole a priority in free agency, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported Thursday, citing a source.

Cole is a Southern California native with familial ties to the Giants, a team that also features one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks in the MLB. San Francisco also has been mentioned as a destination for the ace, who reportedly desires a return to the West Coast.

But if the Yankees, who always have jumped to outbid every other team for talent in free agency, decide to back up the proverbial Brinks truck for the 29-year-old, the Giants might be swiftly eliminated from contention for Cole.

Reports indicate that Cole’s price tag will “shatter” the record set by David Price when he signed a $217 million contract with the Boston Red Sox in 2015.

[RELATED: Report: Giants targeted UGA's pitching coach for same role]

While San Francisco has plenty of money to spend this offseason, it likely won’t engage in a bidding war that could approach $300 million.

Even if longtime Giant and current free agent Madison Bumgarner elects to go elsewhere in free agency, it remains to be seen how much money San Francisco would be willing to shell out for an elite talent like Cole in the heart of his prime.