Why Kieran Lovegrove signed with Giants after Farhan Zaidi hiring


Why Kieran Lovegrove signed with Giants after Farhan Zaidi hiring

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- No team has had more success with minor league free agents over the past decade than the Giants, who put together a priority list every season and then go hard when players are let go by their previous organizations in the fall. 

The front office has generally had success selling minor league free agents on their ballpark, their culture, their coaching staff and, for pitchers, their catcher. But for one of last offseason's biggest targets, the most important factor wasn't even part of the organization until Nov. 6. 

"When Zaidi came on, that was pretty much my decision-maker," right-hander Kieran Lovegrove said. "I was very interested in following him wherever he went."

Lovegrove had a lot of qualities that put him right near the top of the wish list for the team officials who kept everything running smoothly as Larry Baer looked for Bobby Evans' replacement. He's just 24 and is coming off a season in which he posted a 2.73 ERA at three minor league levels, struck out 10 batters per nine innings, and pitched in the Futures Game.

Lovegrove has a mid-90s fastball that ticks higher at times, and the Giants' analytics people and scouts felt there were tweaks he could make to his pitch mix to break through. 

When the Indians failed to put Lovegrove on their 40-man roster, the Giants were aggressive. They felt they had a good shot at landing the California product regardless, but the addition of Farhan Zaidi put Lovegrove over the top. 

"I had kind of heard what he had done in Oakland and then I got to see what he did in L.A. as I followed the way that they helped to develop players and find players that had been told, 'Here's your ceiling and you can't go above that,'" he said. "He took them and it seemed like he would just say, 'Look, I believe you can do more so go out there and do more.'"

Lovegrove had a chance to pass that message along earlier in camp when he met with Zaidi, Bruce Bochy, Curt Young and Matt Herges. He already has made adjustments, leaning on Michael Schwartze, an analyst who was hired a year ago and travels with the team, to alter the way he attacks hitters. 

[RELATED: Kieran Lovegrove stands against racism in Black History Month shoes]

Lovegrove talked about those adjustments on this week's episode of The Giants Insider Podcast, along with a lot more. We touched on mental health, what he has learned from Trevor Bauer, fastball spin efficiency, supporting causes that are not usually affiliated with baseball players, minor league pay issues and much more. 

You can stream the podcast here or download it on iTunes here. 

Barry Bonds likely will fall short of 2020 Baseball Hall of Fame class

Barry Bonds likely will fall short of 2020 Baseball Hall of Fame class

When he had a bat in his hands, Barry Bonds had more control over a game than just about anyone in the history of the sport. But Bonds can do nothing but watch these days, and on Tuesday afternoon, he'll once again be disappointed by the end result. 

Bonds is tracking well below the 75 percent needed for induction in the Hall of Fame, and when results are announced this afternoon, he'll be left with just two more chances at induction.

According to Ryan Thibodaux, who closely tracks the vote every offseason, Bonds has been listed on 71.3 percent of ballots that have been made public. He traditionally takes a significant hit when non-public ballots are added to the mix. The 2020 Hall of Fame class will be announced at approximately 3:15 p.m. PT on MLB Network. 

This year's class should be a small one, and it's possible that only Derek Jeter has his named called. Jeter has been listed on every ballot thus far and has a chance to join former teammate Mariano Rivera as the only unanimous selections in MLB history. 

Larry Walker, in his final year on the ballot, is currently at 83.3 percent. Curt Schilling also is currently in position to get inducted (77.8 percent) but he is expected to drop off when all votes are counted. Walker could end up being one of the tightest decisions in HOF voting history. 

Bonds might get that "final year" bump in 2022, but thus far he has not gotten particularly close to induction. He got up to 59.1 percent last year, but the steroid cloud has kept him off too many ballots to even make the annual January announcement day remotely dramatic. 

[RELATED: Antoan Richardson's journey showed perseverence]

Bonds, a seven-time MVP who is the sport's all-time leader in home runs, will be on the ballot two more times, and a couple of his former teammates garnered enough support that they will remain on the ballot. Omar Vizquel currently is at 49.1 percent and Jeff Kent is tracking at 32.9 percent.

Former A's Jason Giambi and Eric Chavez are among those who will fail to get the five percent required to stay on the ballot another year. 

MLB rumors: Jerry Blevins signs minor league contract with Giants

MLB rumors: Jerry Blevins signs minor league contract with Giants

The Giants signed veteran left-handed reliever Jerry Blevins to a minor league contract, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported Monday night, citing a source.

The deal includes an invitation to major league camp, Rosenthal reported.

Blevins responded to Rosenthal's tweet, all but confirming the news.

Blevins has pitched parts of 13 seasons with four different teams. He's spent time with the A's, Washington Nationals, New York Mets and Atlanta Braves.

Last season with Atlanta, the 36-year-old posted a 3.90 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 32.1 innings over 45 appearances.

[RELATED: Who starts for Giants on opening day?]

Blevins appears to be another low-risk, high-reward signing by the Giants' front office. If he makes the team out of spring training and shows he has value, he could be a prime trade candidate ahead of the July 31 trade deadline.

If Farhan Zaidi and Scott Harris can turn Blevins into a future asset, this will look like another stealthy move.