What to watch for from Giants over first week of 2019 MLB offseason


What to watch for from Giants over first week of 2019 MLB offseason

SAN FRANCISCO -- The most exciting month of free agency ahead of the 2019 Giants season was actually one that's not really supposed to be part of the offseason. 

In early February, Giants officials flew to Las Vegas to meet with Bryce Harper, kicking off a dramatic chase that ended February 28 when Harper signed with the Phillies, when the Giants were well into their workouts and Cactus League games. 

There's a chance that there's similar action -- with fellow Scott Boras client Gerrit Cole, maybe? -- late this offseason, but some of the biggest decisions will come early. Madison Bumgarner is about to hit the open market, and any decision he makes will have a huge impact on the Giants one way or the other. 

That decision could drag out, but here's what you need to know in the opening days of the offseason:

Bumgarner and Smith

The Giants have until Nov. 4 to place the $17.8 million qualifying offer on their free agents, and both Bumgarner and closer Will Smith are candidates. If they then go elsewhere, the Giants would recoup a draft pick. 

It's a lock that Bumgarner will get an offer, and while that hurt Dallas Keuchel's market last offseason, Bumgarner has never been all that worried. He's confident he'll find the right situation, and he's not at all the type to sit out half a season. If the QO does eliminate some suitors, though, that would help the Giants' chances of a reunion. 

Smith is fascinating and could be a surprise recipient of an offer. The Giants have been considering it, knowing that they don't have another steady option for the ninth inning and that top-of-market closers generally make about $15 million a year anyway. Smith, coming off an All-Star season, wouldn't be a bargain, but he wouldn't weigh down the payroll, either, and he once again could be used as a trade chip in July. 

Smith would have a tough decision to make if the Giants tag him. He's 30 and ready to cash in, but $17.8 million is a lot to turn down given where the market has been recently. 

Tony Watson

The left-hander signed an incentive-filled deal during spring training in 2018 and has a player option that will be worth roughly $7 million. With some second-half struggles that brought his numbers down, Watson may decide that free agency won't be any more fruitful. At the end of the season, the sense around the team was the 34-year-old would pick up his option, but Watson has until Nov. 4 to make a decision. 

The Others

Pablo Sandoval is about to get one last nice payday. He's due a $5 million buyout on his $17 million club option, which the Red Sox will pay. What a steal that ended up being for the Giants. 

Stephen Vogt is also about to hit free agency and he should find plenty of suitors after a strong season as Buster Posey's backup. Vogt recently said on MLB Network Radio that he wants to win a World Series, which makes the Giants an unlikely fit. Joey Bart is getting close, anyway.

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Roster Moves

The Giants currently have 46 players on their 40-man roster and the guys who were put on the 60-day IL have to be added back, causing a bit of a crunch. The free agents should clear most of the spots, but expect another steady stream of moves -- like the Tyler Anderson claim on Wednesday -- as the Giants scoop up guys who were let go elsewhere. 

MLB rumors: Yankees offer Gerrit Cole record seven-year, $245M contract

MLB rumors: Yankees offer Gerrit Cole record seven-year, $245M contract

Gerrit Cole is going to get paid. Everyone knew that headed into this offseason, but now we know the benchmark for his payday. 

The New York Times' Bob Klapisch reported Sunday that the Yankees offered the superstar pitcher a record-breaking, seven-year, $245 million contract. Those figures would surpass David Price's $217 million deal, and Zack Greinke's average annual value of $34.4 million per year. 

While Giants fans surely would love to see Cole pitching in San Francisco, it should be seen as a win if he does wind up in pinstripes. Cole, a Southern California native who just happens to be Brandon Crawford's brother-in-law, reportedly is being courted by the Dodgers and Angels as well. 

The Giants last faced Cole on May 22, 2018. The right-hander struck out eight batters over six innings in an 11-2 Astros win in Houston. In seven starts, Cole is 5-1 with a 3.15 ERA against the Giants. 

It's safe to say, the last thing San Francisco's front office wants to see is the 29-year-old returning to the NL to be a Dodger. The fewer times you face Cole in a season, the better. 

Cole taking his talents to the Bronx certainly would be a welcome sight for the A's, too. Sure, he still would be in the AL, but it definitely beats having him in the same division. 

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Oakland faced Cole twice last season, and he was brilliant in both starts, allowing only three earned runs over 13 innings to go with 15 strikeouts. He is 4-1 with a 3.08 ERA and 65 strikeouts over 50 2/3 innings in eight career starts against the A's. 

As Shohei Ohtani returns to the mound in 2020, the A's will have their hands full when they face the Angels. Adding Cole could be a disgusting cherry on top. 

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.'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.

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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.