Andrew Benintendi

Giants poised to take advantage with teams desperately shedding salary

Giants poised to take advantage with teams desperately shedding salary

SAN DIEGO -- There isn't actually a salary cap in baseball, but with teams acting like there is, Farhan Zaidi and Scott Harris have found an opportunity. 

The Giants traded for the remaining $12 million or so on Zack Cozart's contract on Tuesday afternoon and got rewarded with a prospect they thought about taking 10th overall in June. It was an interesting deal, the type you would normally see in the NBA, and Zaidi hinted that he could go back to that well. Asked if he had the financial flexibility to make another such deal, Zaidi nodded.

"Yeah, I don't think we're done," he said. "We're kind of weighing all kinds of different deals. We'll continue to evaluate those opportunities."

The Giants find themselves with this opportunity because, while there's no salary cap, teams will make poor baseball decisions to avoid the Competitive Balance Tax, which is at $208 million for the 2020 season. 

The Red Sox are eager to get under that line and have made big-money players available, potentially with a prospect or good young player being attached. There has been some industry speculation that they could pair 25-year-old outfielder Andrew Benintendi with a high-salaried starter, possibly David Price, who was Gabe Kapler's teammate in Tampa Bay.

The Cubs, Harris' old organization, are looking to cut back and reportedly have made former MVP Kris Bryant available. The Athletic reported Tuesday night that the Astros, looking to shed payroll, could trade Carlos Correa. The Yankees could attach prospects to some of their own veterans if they sign Gerrit Cole and want to clear payroll space.

This is still a relatively new concept for baseball, but it's not new to the Giants. They're just on the other side this time. Just 17 months ago, the Giants attached a prospect to Austin Jackson and Cory Gearrin in a deal with the Rangers that was made in order to dip under the CBT line, which they went over the previous three seasons. 

There no longer are payroll concerns, and Zaidi entered the Winter Meetings with somewhere in the range of $70 million in space before hitting the line. Even after dishing out nearly $22 million Tuesday to take on Cozart and sign Kevin Gausman, the Giants still have plenty of flexibility, and they're doing exactly what they should with it.

[RELATED: Report: Giants 'likely' mystery team pursuing Gerrit Cole]

There aren't many teams, period, that have an ownership group willing to take on big deals. The Giants are one of them, and they also are in a position where they desperately need prospects and younger players. That has created a perfect storm. 

"There are clearly teams out there that are looking to create financial flexibility -- it's been a very active market -- and I think for us we're trying to balance our competitive aspirations in 2020 with some of our long-term goals," Zaidi said. "The fact that there are teams searching for financial flexibility, obviously we've created some of that, it gives us different options like we've been talking about. I think today is an example of the types of moves we can make with that."