Why the Giants should call Yankees, ask about trading for Sonny Gray


Why the Giants should call Yankees, ask about trading for Sonny Gray

SAN FRANCISCO — In his first year with the Giants, pitching coach Curt Young received plenty of praise for his work with young starters Dereck Rodriguez and Andrew Suarez. He also was frequently mentioned by veteran Derek Holland, who needed a fresh start after a brutal year with the White Sox. 

What could Young do with a young starter who also happens to need a change of scenery? The Giants should find out. 

At his end-of-season press conference Friday morning, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman bluntly told reporters that he would attempt to trade Sonny Gray, a former All-Star who posted a 4.90 ERA in his first full season with the Yankees and quickly became a target for their fans. It’s a call the Giants should make for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, Gray, just 28 years old, has not lost his talent. In 15 appearances on the road, he had a 3.17 ERA and held opposing hitters to a .226 average. He allowed just three homers in 71 innings on the road, striking out 78.

At Yankee Stadium, where pop-ups to right can turn into homers, Gray had a 6.98 ERA and gave up 11 homers in 59 1/3 innings. This is a man who simply needs a new ballpark, and there isn’t a better one for pitchers than AT&T Park. 

At his peak in Oakland, where Young was his pitching coach, Gray was a five-WAR starter. Even in 2017, the year he was traded, he had an ERA+ of 122. A repeat of that season would have ranked him second on the 2018 Giants, behind Rodriguez. 

Gray should be a buy-low target for plenty of teams, but the Giants have one big advantage here. Because of his past success, Gray is estimated to make $9.1 million in arbitration, according to MLB Trade Rumors, which could price him out for some other teams, including the one playing across the Bay Bridge. For the Giants, that’s a drop in the bucket, and they could take on the full salary and then see what the Yankees want in return. 

That part is unclear, but Yankees reporters didn’t seem to think the trade ask would be too high. According to Marc Carig of The Athletic, Cashman said, “It’s probably best to try this somewhere else” and made it clear that if he finds a trade partner, Gray is being moved. The Giants — who are interviewing Cashman’s former assistant GM (Kim Ng) and have a former Yankee (Brian Sabean) currently running their operations — would appear to be the perfect fit, giving Cashman the chance to move Gray to the other league, where he couldn’t come back to haunt the Yankees. 

If he can find his old form, Gray could give the Giants a No. 2 or No. 3 starter on a one-year deal as they look to reload, setting the rotation and allowing the new front office to spend the rest of the offseason looking for bats. If he’s good and the team still isn’t, Gray would be a nice trade chip in July. And if it doesn’t work out in any respect, Gray would hit free agency next offseason, and the Giants wouldn’t be stuck with another long-term commitment to a starting pitcher.

Either way, this is a call they have to make.

MLB rumors: News, updates, trade talk Monday from 2018 Winter Meetings

MLB rumors: News, updates, trade talk Monday from 2018 Winter Meetings

Executives, agents and even some players descend on the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas for the MLB Winter Meetings, starting Monday.

Roster construction, either through signings and/or trades, is the goal for many teams, and both Bay Area teams figure to be heavily involved. The Giants, with new president of baseball operation Farhan Zaidi, have numerous questions to answer, particularly in the rotation and the outfield. The A's also need rotation depth -- heck, they need a rotation, period -- and finding a second baseman and a catcher would be nice, too.

Keep it here throughout Day 1 of the Winter Meetings for the latest news, rumors and trade talk, as MLB teams reshape their rosters for the 2019 season.

11:45 p.m. PT: Good news, Giants fans: You may not have to watch Yasiel Puig play for the Dodgers much longer. Los Angeles is making Puig available in trade talks, according to Fancred's Jon Heyman.

Giants-Dodgers will never lack for sizzle, but a Puig-less rivarly won't be nearly as entertaining. 

10:51 p.m. PT: Khris Davis doesn't become a free agent until next summer, but he's still a "huge prority" for the A's. 

9:43 p.m. PT: Jonathan Lucroy settled things down for the A's behind the plate in 2018. That may not happen in 2019, if the reports surrounding his contract negotiation are any indication. 

8:18 p.m. PT: The New York Mets are making a hard push for a rumored Giants target: All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto. 

The Giants were linked to Realmuto last month, and it was reported earlier Monday that the Marlins lowered their asking price for the catcher. Just not enough for the Giants' liking, apparently. 

7:08 p.m. PT: The Yankees ruled themselves out of the Bryce Harper sweepstakes, but that hasn't stopped "several teams" from meeting with the superstar in his hometown, according to Fancred's Jon Heyman.

Here's hoping the "mystery owner" is unmasked, Scooby Doo-style. They would've gotten away with the meeting, too, if it wasn't for those meddling reporters. 

6:38 p.m. PT: Giants fans can breathe easy that Paul Goldschmidt is out of the NL West, but that almost wasn't the case. The Colorado Rockies apparently pushed to trade for Goldschmidt, according to The Athletic's Nick Groke.

The only thing scarier than Goldschmidt raking against the Giants? Him doing it at Coors Field. 

6:04 p.m. PT: The Giants confirmed a trio of reported hires. 

Ricciardi was the Toronto Blue Jays' general manager for eight seasons (2002-09), then worked in the New York Mets front office as a special assistant to general manager Sandy Alderson for the past eight seasons.

Minasian worked with the Milwaukee Brewers for the last 14 seasons, and most recently as a special advisor for scouting in the Brewers' front office. Holmes worked alongside Zaidi in the A's front office, and was most recently their assistant scouting director. 

5:59 p.m. PT: Giants president of baseball operations Neal Huntington? It almost happened, according to the Pirates general manager himself. 

5:06 p.m. PT: For the second straight offseason, the Marlins are probably going to trade one of their best players. Miami dropped the asking price for catcher J.T. Realmuto, according to the New York Post's Joel Sherman.

The Giants reportedly checked in on the All-Star catcher earlier in the offseason, even though they have an All-Star cather of their own. With a lower asking price, will the orange and black explore the possibility again? 

4:55 p.m. PT: The A’s could use some starting pitchers -- heck, they could use any starting pitchers. MassLive’s Chris Costillo dropped interesting tidbits on two bargain-bin options who might fit.

The A’s, of course, know Pomeranz well, as he pitched for them in 2014 and 2015 before they traded him to the Padres in the Yonder Alonso deal. His 2018 statline of a 2-6 record with a 6.08 ERA for the Red Sox might drop the left-hander’s price this offseason.

Oakland also knows Santana well from his eight seasons pitching for the rival Angels, from 2005 to 2012, although he’s about to turn 36, had a horrible 2018 and is showing significant signs of wear.

3:30 p.m. PT: While Yankees GM Brian Cashman all but ruled out the team adding Bryce Harper, he acknowledged he has spoken with the agent for free agent third baseman Manny Machado. The Yankees don't necessarily need a third baseman with Miguel Andujar in the mix, but they could use Machado at shortstop while Didi Gregorious recovers from Tommy John surgery.

3:26 p.m. PT: If you're a Yankees fan hoping the team will sign Bryce Harper, we have some bad news for you. What GM Brian Cashman just told reporters in Vegas pretty much squashed any thought that there is room for the outfielder on the Yankees' roster.

If you're a Giants fan holding out hope that Harper will come to San Francisco, knowing the Yankees aren't in the mix should make you feel good.

2:38 p.m. PT: The A's still would like to bring back second baseman Jed Lowrie, but if the sides can't come to an agreement, former NL batting champ D.J. LeMahieu could be an option. The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that the A's have expressed interest in the former Rockies second baseman.

1:15 p.m. PT: Former A's draft pick, Bishop O'Dowd and Cal alum Tyson Ross is headed to MoTown on a one-year, $5.75 million contract, according to The Athletic.

12:28 p.m. PT: Everyone needs their very own boomstick, and the Twins, Astros and Rays reportedly are in the mix for veteran designated hitter Nelson Cruz.

The 38-year-old spent the last four seasons with the Mariners. The A's probably would like to see Cruz pick the Twins or Rays over the Astros, to get him out of the AL West.

11:36 a.m. PT: Earlier, Jon Morosi reported the Dodgers are involved in trade talks for Corey Kluber. Now we know what the Indians want as the headliner of the return: Dodgers No. 1 prospect Alex Verdugo. That would be a hefty price to pay, but the Dodgers are flush with outfielders at the major league level.

11:33 a.m. PT: New president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has made his first 40-man roster addition, as the Giants claimed 26-year-old outfielder Mike Gerber off waivers from the Tigers.

10:46 a.m. PT: In the aftermath of the Diamondbacks letting Patrick Corbin leave and trading Paul Goldschmidt, we wrote last Thursday that the A's should inquire about left-hander Robbie Ray. But according to USA Today, Arizona is telling teams the All-Star pitcher is not available.

10:41 a.m. PT: The Dodgers have won the NL West the last six seasons and made it to the Fall Classic the last two years. But they have yet to end their World Series drought, so could a big splash put them over the top? According to Jon Morosi, the Dodgers are involved in trade talks with the Indians regarding two-time AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber.

10:13 a.m. PT: The Tigers have a 26-year-old outfielder in Nick Castellanos who hit 49 homers over the last two seasons, and he's drawing trade interest, according to Jon Morosi. Could the Giants be interested? We're not sure, but it's an interesting name on the market.

9:36 a.m. PT: Manny Machado plans to show off his hustle by going on a Image Rehabilitation Tour Free Agent Tour! Will he stop by San Francisco or Oakland?

9:12 a.m. PT: Billy Hamilton reportedly will receive a total of $5 million in base salary and incentives from Kansas City.

8:15 a.m. PT: Will Farhan Zaidi move fan favorite Brandon Belt? According to USA Today, the first baseman is available, and several teams are interested.

7:56 a.m. PT: In previous offseasons, the Giants tried to acquire speedy outfielder Billy Hamilton from the Reds, but the sides never agreed to a deal. This winter, Hamilton was non-tendered by Cincinnati.

Now, it appears Hamilton has found a new home, as he's reportedly close to a deal with the Royals.

7:30 a.m. PT: We're not sure if Bryce Harper will meet with Farhan Zaidi and the Giants contingent in Vegas, but the top free agent on the market reportedly is warming up to the idea of playing for the White Sox. But is he really willing to go to a team that lost 100 games in 2018?

6:49 a.m. PT: The Arizona Diamondbacks finished third in the NL West, nine games ahead of the Giants, last season. That likely won't be the case in 2019. Patrick Corbin left in free agency. Paul Goldschmidt has been traded. And now, it appears the team is trying to trade ace Zack Greinke.

But that will be difficult because Greinke has a 15-team no-trade clause, and has put most big market teams on it, according to Jon Heyman.

MLB Winter Meetings notes: Giants part ways with popular staff member


MLB Winter Meetings notes: Giants part ways with popular staff member

LAS VEGAS -- When the Giants fired their general manager and their strength coach before the end of the regular season, employees throughout the organization prepared for a bloodbath. 

That didn't end up happening, but there still will be additional changes behind the scenes.

Chad Chop, who served a do-everything role in the clubhouse and partnered with Shawon Dunston to handle replays, was not retained. Bob Tewksbury, the mental skills coach for two seasons, also was let go. 

The Giants already have replaced Carl Kochan, the strength coach let go on the final homestand. Brad Lawson, previously the organization's minor league strength and conditioning coordinator, will take that role. The rest of the training staff is returning intact. 

Chop's departure is notable for a couple of reasons. He was an expert with the replay computer system, and the Giants generally did well on reviews. Chop joined the Giants in a fascinating way -- the former minor leaguer started training with Hunter Pence early in his Giants career and initially joined the team as a left-handed batting practice pitcher. Pence recommended Chop to the Giants. Over time, Chop's role expanded, and he was popular in the clubhouse.

Chop's next role won't be as popular with Giants players. He has been hired by the Dodgers. 

Here are some more nuggets from the first full day of the 2018 MLB Winter Meetings ... 

--- Former Giant Brett Pill was among the scouts walking around the Mandalay Bay lobby Monday morning. Pill is in his second year working for the Kia Tigers, a South Korean team he played for late in his career. He's close to getting his degree, too, after going back to school.

--- Casey Kelly and Pierce Johnson both have signed to play overseas next season, and you can expect that to happen more with veterans in the coming offseasons. Multiple agents noted how hard it now is for non-established big leaguers to find jobs as they approach or cross 30. Almost every team prefers to go young -- the Giants were a holdout, but that will change under Farhan Zaidi -- and give those shots to players in their early twenties who have more upside -- and also make far, far less. Playing in Asia is a lucrative way for veterans such as Kelly and Johnson to continue playing when big league opportunities dry up.

Kelly is just 29 and Johnson is 27. Tommy Joseph, a former Giants prospect, also recently signed to play in Asia. He's 27. Chase d'Arnaud, 31, is another former Giant said to be on the radars of South Korean and Japanese teams this offseason.

--- Zaidi said the Giants, who currently have five open roster spots, might take a player in the Rule 5 Draft for a second consecutive year. 

"I could see us taking somebody," he said. "We haven't had our specific meetings about it, but we have enough roles on the roster that we're looking to fill, and we certainly like some of the players that will potentially be available."

Last December, the front office selected hard-throwing reliever Julian Fernandez. He had Tommy John surgery before ever pitching for the Giants and now is a Miami Marlin.

--- If you missed any of the news from Monday, the Giants added an outfielder to their roster, Zaidi believes he'll add two more, and he explained why Hunter Strickland and Gorkys Hernandez now are looking for jobs.