Giants

Why George Springer should be Giants' Mookie Betts free-agency Plan B

Why George Springer should be Giants' Mookie Betts free-agency Plan B

Editor's Note: This week, NBC Sports Bay Area will theorize hypothetical front-office acquisitions for each of our teams. Today, we examine a potential move the Giants could make.

Giancarlo Stanton. Shohei Ohtani. Bryce Harper. Were these smokescreens in San Francisco or real pursuits by the Giants?

No, $310 million isn't a smokescreen. That's what the Giants offered Harper in February 2019 before the former NL MVP eventually signed with the Philadelphia Phillies. Harper, at 26 years old, was the rare free agent who made sense for the rebuilding Giants to offer such a larger, and long (12 years), contract. So, who's next in line for the Giants to make a run at as early as next offseason?

The obvious answer is Mookie Betts, who turns 28 in October. Regardless of if a shortened season is played or not this year, teams will line up to hand Betts a blank check. The first in line will be the Los Angeles Dodgers, and they rightfully will be the frontrunners to sign the 2018 AL MVP. 

After jumping through all the hoops and clearing all the hurdles, Betts headlined a five-player trade where he went from the Boston Red Sox to the Dodgers in February. The fact that someone named "Jeter" joining the Red Sox isn't the most absurd part of this trade shows just how bonkers this blockbuster was. San Francisco surely will test the waters when it comes to signing Betts, but if you're a betting man (yeah, I know) put your money on Mookie making Hollywood his home. 

That doesn't mean the Giants can't find a star on the open market, though. There's a cheaper, slightly older, power-hitting outfielder they can get their hands on. Farhan Zaidi should be all-in on making George Springer a Giant.

Before we dive into Springer and how he would fit the Giants, let's compare him and Betts by the numbers last season. 

Betts (150 games): .295/.391/.525, 29 HR, 135 R, 80 RBI, 16 SB, .915 OPS, 135 OPS+
Springer (122 games): .292/.383/.591, 39 HR, 96 R, 96 RBI, 6 SB, .974 OPS, 150 OPS+

Despite missing a chunk of games after straining his hamstring in late May and then suffering a concussion when running into the outfield wall in early September, Springer had a career year at the plate. He finished seventh in AL MVP voting, Betts finished eighth. Springer was worth a career-high 6.4 bWAR, while Betts was worth slightly more at 6.9. 

Betts has won four straight Gold Glove awards, but both players were worth 1.2 dWAR last year. FanGraphs had Betts edging out Springer, who can play center or right field, in Defensive Runs Saved at 16-12.

Springer also is three years older than Betts and won't get paid nearly as much. The Astros star will enter free agency having just turned 31 years old. It will be a wild offseason, too, with the league coming off the financial ramifications of losing games to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Springer could be hoping to hear offers starting around six years and $180 million. With past injury concerns and contract constraints after such odd circumstances, that number will come down. It could come down a long way, too. 

Justin Upton signed a five-year, $106 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels in November 2017 after hitting 35 homers that season. He was 30 years old, turning 31 in August, at the time of the signing. In his age-24 through 29 seasons, Upton averaged 28 homers, an .817 OPS and 122 OPS+. Springer has averaged 27 homers (in 164 fewer games) with an .849 OPS and 131 OPS+ in his first six seasons, when he was 24 through 29 years old. 

The Astros will do what they can to keep Springer in Houston, and they already have expressed their interest in a long-term deal. Springer also was one of the most remorseful and outspoken players regarding the Astros' sign-stealing scandal. 

"I feel horrible for our sport, our game, you know, our fans, our city, our organization -- just fans in general," Springer said to reporters in spring training. "I regret everything."

For those concerned about Springer's production away from Houston, he is a .278 career hitter with 87 home runs on the road, compared .262 and 73 homers at Minute Maid Park.

In this hypothetical world, the Connecticut native wants to come West and signs a five-year, $118.5 million contract with the Giants this Winter. 

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San Francisco has a lot of big contracts coming off the books in the near future. Jeff Samardzija will be a free agent this upcoming offseason. Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford's contracts both end after 2021. And Buster Posey and Johnny Cueto, who both have 2022 team options, could be out after '21.

The rebuild also will be ramping up by the time Springer would be on board. Joey Bart should be ingrained into the Giants' lineup by 2021, as should fellow top prospect Heliot Ramos. Hunter Bishop, and even Marco Luciano, could be playing at Oracle Park in 2022. 

Zaidi and the rest of the Giants' front office could use San Francisco's rising farm system as a selling tool to Springer. They also might make it clear they have their eyes on a handful of the 2021-22 free-agent class that includes the likes of Noah Syndergaard, Nolan Arenado, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Francisco Lindor, Trevor Story and Carlos Correa.

If the Giants want to get back to get back to wearing championship rings, adding a former World Series MVP won't hurt. Springer doesn't just smash in the regular season -- he already has 15 postseason homers and hit .379 in the 2017 World Series.

Mookie Betts will be baseball's biggest star when free agency starts this offseason. George Springer is a hell of a backup plan, and the Giants already should be plotting ways to get him in Gabe Kapler's lineup.

Dereck Rodriguez impressed by top Giants prospects at alternate site

Dereck Rodriguez impressed by top Giants prospects at alternate site

There wasn't a player at the Giants' alternate site in Sacramento who had a better feel for high-upside talent than Dereck Rodriguez. He's the son of a Hall-of-Fame catcher and grew up in big league clubhouses. 

Rodriguez, then, was the perfect person to ask about the top prospects who are spending their summer getting reps against more experienced pitchers like him and Trevor Cahill, both of whom were called up Wednesday. He gave a glowing scouting report, too. 

"(Joey) Bart is unbelievable. Bart, he's a big league player if I could say it. He's awesome to throw to," Rodriguez said. "He's awesome calling games, and he looks like a veteran at the plate

"Heliot Ramos, that dude has some pop like no other, and Luciano, for how young he is, he is really disciplined at the plate. He takes some pitches that are tough. Him and Ramos were tough at-bats down there. I don't think I got Ramos out once, and Luciano, man, Luciano was good. He was battling. He would walk here and there. I would have to throw him pitches and he would sit on them. Usually younger guys -- 2-0, 3-0 counts are usually fastball counts -- but to him you have to treat him pretty much like a veteran. He makes good adjustments, it's pretty cool. He's a big boy, man, he can hit."

Bart, Ramos and Luciano are the organization's top three prospects, and are among the 30 or so players working out in Sacramento every day. When the minor league season was canceled, the Giants brought most of their top prospects to Northern California, hopeful that they could accelerate their development with daily reps against guys like Rodriguez, a breakout star in 2018 who has seen an uptick in velocity and is back in the big league mix after a down 2019. 

Luciano hasn't even played Low-A ball yet, so this summer is all about learning. But Bart should debut at some point this year, and Rodriguez said he didn't think Ramos would be overmatched. Like Bart, Ramos reached Double-A last season, and as an outfielder he could have an easier adjustment to the big league level. 

"He's a great runner, he reads the ball well off the bat, he has a really good arm, and he sees spin really well. He's a good, disciplined hitter up there," Rodriguez said. "In my opinion I think he could be up here at any moment. And Bart, everybody loves Bart. I think a lot of the guys up here (in the big leagues), a lot of the pitchers that threw to Joey in camp were really impressed and are excited honestly. 

"We're really excited to try to get him up here at some point, either by the end of the year or next year.  It's going to be a lot of fun seeing him up here and throwing to him."

Zack Greinke calls pitch out loud, reaches new level of Giants ownage

Zack Greinke calls pitch out loud, reaches new level of Giants ownage

Zack Greinke was so good Wednesday night that the Giants couldn't make contact when he told them what pitches were coming.

No, seriously.

Greinke signaled his pitch to Astros catcher MartÍn Maldonaldo in the top of the seventh inning of Houston's 5-1 win ... with runners on first and second, nobody out and Giants shortstop Mauricio Dubon stood in the batter's box.

Dubon then flew out to center on the pitch Greinke called.

“Today, there was a man on second base and it got all messed up and it took longer than I was hoping it would take,” Greinke told reporters on a video conference call (H/T MLB.com's Brian McTaggart). “It’s 50 percent my fault and 50 percent Maldy’s fault. ... I don’t like taking a long time with a man on second base especially. I’m trying to find a way to speed that up. So far this year, it's been good. It got messed up today.”

[RELATED: Slater, Solano injuries expose Giants' offensive weakness in loss]

Greinke wasn't just showing off, but he had every right to with Wednesday's performance. The longtime thorn in the Giants' side struck out seven and allowed just one earned run 6 1/3 innings of work. Greinke picked up his first win of the season, improving to 14-3 in his career against the Giants and lowering his all-time ERA versus San Francisco to just 2.18. The 36-year-old has now won more games against the Giants than all but one other team.

Ownage is ownage, but signaling your own pitches ownage? That's something else entirely.