When the Giants released their roster Monday, everything looked pretty normal. But technically, a day earlier, they had released a pretty big name in franchise history and three other veterans.
As a procedural move, the Giants released Pablo Sandoval, Billy Hamilton, Yolmer Sanchez and Trevor Cahill before re-signing all four and putting them on the roster for Summer Camp. The Giants had to rework the contracts of all four, but president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi shot down speculation that opt-outs were removed from the contracts.
Generally, veterans who come to camp as non-roster invitees have an opt-out in late March that lets them seek a job elsewhere if they're concerned about their roster spot. Contracts also sometimes include opt-outs spread over the start of the season for guys who end up in Triple-A, but none of that is possible this year.
"All four of these guys still have the ability to opt out before Opening Day if they're not added," Zaidi said. "Given their service time that (removing the opt-out) wasn't going to be an ask that we made of them. We wouldn't want them going to our alternative site (in Sacramento) without their consent anyway. We didn't ask that. We did revise terms some.
"I don't want to get into specifics, but part of the motivation was reevaluating performance bonus structures given the value of cost certainty in the current environment. That was a primary driver of those discussions. The players were all agreeable to those revisions."
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The 60-game season came with unforeseen issues for front offices, and one of them is dealing with performance bonuses. Sandoval, for instance, returned in January on a deal that has just a $2 million base salary but includes $750,000 in potential bonuses. Those bonuses though were negotiated on the assumption he could try to reach them over 162 games.
Like the other three, Sandoval was on a minor league deal this spring, which normally would mean the Giants would have to pay a $100,000 bonus to keep him in the organization if he wasn't on the initial roster. That part of the CBA was still being negotiated over the weekend, but it won't matter in this case anyway. Zaidi made it clear that all four veterans have an inside track to a roster spot.
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"Importantly, I think all four guys feel good about their opportunities to make the active roster," he said. "They all have great shots to make the active roster and they're happy in the organization, so we were able to get that resolved."
Sandoval is fully recovered from Tommy John surgery and should serve as a valuable bench bat for Gabe Kapler while also potentially platooning at third with Evan Longoria. Hamilton will be particularly valuable in a short, intense season that could be heavy on pinch-runners, especially in extra innings. Sanchez is a strong defender and switch-hitter who is a good fit alongside Mauricio Dubon, Wilmer Flores and Donovan Solano in the infield mix, and Cahill, a starter and reliever in the past, is a perfect fit for a pitching staff that won't have a set rotation.