Cleveland Indians

Should Giants explore signing nemesis Yasiel Puig in free agency?

Should Giants explore signing nemesis Yasiel Puig in free agency?

The Giants replaced franchise icon Bruce Bochy with Gabe Kapler as their new manager this offseason, and reportedly have "shown no inclination" in keeping Madison Bumgarner. 

Now imagine if they signed one of the most despised opposing players in franchise history. Glasses of IPA would be shattered, beanies would be burned, even Patagonia jackets might be on the wrong side of angry fans. 

The Athletic's Jim Bowden made one move for all 30 MLB teams at the Winter Meetings, and here's his wish for the Giants: Sign outfielder Yasiel Puig to a four-year, $48 million contract. 

Slow down, hold on to your garlic fries. Everything is going to be OK. There's no reason to spit out your Philz coffee. 

Bowden, who served as the Reds general manager from 1992 to 2003 and Expos/Nationals GM from 2005-08, links Puig to the Giants with his ties to Kapler and president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi. Kapler was the Dodgers' director of player development for three of Puig's seasons in Los Angeles, while Zaidi was L.A.'s GM for five of those years.

Puig became an instant Giants nemesis with the Dodgers immediately after debuting with San Francisco's rivals in 2013. He found himself in multiple scuffles with Bumgarner, and sparked a brawl in 2018 after fighting former Giants catcher Nick Hundley. 

Zaidi and the rest of the front office aren't worried about the past, though. This is a new era of Giants baseball, where nostalgia -- and apparently PR -- aren't top priorities. In a bubble, Puig makes some sense for the Giants. 

The Giants badly need right-handed power hitters and already have been linked to free-agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos. Puig would give them a big boost offensively, one that fans have been clamoring to get for years. 

Puig, who turns 29 on Dec. 7, hit 24 homers, drove in 84 runs and had a .785 OPS between the Reds and Indians last season. He also had a 1.2 fWAR, and FanGraphs has him worth at least one win above replacement in every season of his seven-year career. 

Puig has hit at least 20 homers in three straight seasons and has averaged 19 long balls in his major league career. The Giants ranked 26th in all of baseball last season with only 167 homers as a team. They also ranked 28th in slugging percentage (.392) and runs scored (678).

It's safe to say this team could use a slugger. They also need a right-handed bat to complement left-handed outfielders Mike Yastrzemski and Alex Dickerson. The most intriguing part of Puig's game, however, is his ability to hit in San Francisco. 

Puig hit .417 with two homers in three games at Oracle Park in 2019. That wasn't an outlier, either. In 45 road games against the Giants, Puig is hitting .299 with five homers, 17 RBI and an .838 OPS. 

Of Puig's 132 career home runs, 74 have been hit in NL West stadiums. 

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Take a deep breath. Now grab your Anchor Steam beer and carne asada burrito. Yes, Yasiel Puig on the Giants very well could make sense.

A's have no room for error in AL wild-card race after loss to Angels

A's have no room for error in AL wild-card race after loss to Angels

Tuesday was not a good day for the A's.

Not only did they lose 3-2 to the Los Angeles Angels, but the Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians both won, thus erasing any cushion Oakland had enjoyed in the AL wild-card race. Oakland now leads Tampa Bay by just half a game for the top spot and Cleveland by one game for the second position with five games remaining.

"I think it just wasn't a good day for us overall offensively," manager Bob Melvin told reporters in Anaheim after the loss Tuesday. "I think we maybe expected to do a little bit more early in the game. We've been pretty good against left-handed pitching here this year. Give (Angels starter Dillon Peters) credit. He threw a lot of changeups and curveballs in backwards counts and kept us off balance."

The A's record fell to 94-63, with the Rays right on their tails at 94-64 and the Indians close behind at 93-64. In other words, Oakland has no margin for error in these last five games of the regular season.

"I don't think any of us our panicking," said A's starter Homer Bailey, who allowed three earned runs in five innings to take the loss. "You're not going to win them all. We just kind of all had a little bit of an off day. It cost us a game and we lost 3-2. Big deal. Show up tomorrow, keep doing what we've been doing over the last week and-a-half or so."

Melvin added: "It's always been tight and it's going to continue to be tight. We've just got to take care of ourselves. You can't get too consumed in what other teams are doing. It's always been tight. It's going to be tight till the end, probably."

[RELATED: A's relievers Trivino, Treinen out for season with injuries]

The A's do own the tiebreaker against both the Rays and Indians, meaning Oakland would have home-field advantage in any play-in game. A three-way tie gets complicated, however. In that scenario, the A's would host the Rays on Monday, with the winner earning the top wild-card spot and the loser traveling to Cleveland to face the Indians the next night. The winner of that game would then capture the second wild-card position.

Of course, the A's would prefer to just lock up the first wild-card spot without relying on any tiebreakers. On Wednesday, they'll turn to Frankie Montas, the team's ace from the first half of the season.

Montas is set to return from an 80-game PED suspension and will now start the biggest game of the season, at least to this point. While he will not be eligible for the postseason, the right-hander at least has an opportunity to help his team get there.

AL wild-card race reset: Breaking down A's chances of making playoffs

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USATSI

AL wild-card race reset: Breaking down A's chances of making playoffs

OAKLAND -- With just nine games left in the regular season, the A's are in a great position to lock up a playoff berth for the second consecutive year.

Oakland sits atop the AL wild-card standings at 92-61, two games ahead of Tampa Bay and 2 1/2 games in front of Cleveland. The A's also have the easiest remaining schedule of the three clubs.

Here's a breakdown of each team's final three series and their odds to make the playoffs:

A's: 92-61 (9 games remaining)

3 vs. Rangers (74-79)
2 at Angels (69-83)
4 at Mariners (64-88)

Oakland will play its final nine games of the regular season against sub-.500 AL West opponents. With a magic number of eight to clinch the top-wild card position, the A's likely only need to win five of the nine games. A 6-3 record would just about guarantee them the top spot.

According to FanGraphs, the A's have a 96.3 percent chance of making the playoffs.

Rays: 90-63 (9 games remaining)

4 vs. Red Sox (79-72)
2 vs. Yankees (99-54)
3 at Blue Jays (61-91)

The Rays have the most difficult remaining schedule of the three wild-card contenders, with six games against the Red Sox and Yankees. New York still has something to play for as they try to beat out Houston for home-field advantage, while Boston's lineup is always dangerous.

FanGraphs gives Tampa Bay a 59.9 percent chance of making the playoffs.

Indians: 89-63 (10 games remaining)

1 vs. Tigers (45-106)
3 vs. Phillies (78-72)
3 at White Sox (66-86)
3 at Nationals (83-68)

The Indians have two tough series remaining as they battle the Phillies and Nationals from the NL East. Washington currently leads the NL wild-card race, while Philadelphia is three games out of the second spot.

According to FanGraphs, Cleveland has a 44.0 percent chance of making the playoffs.

Tiebreakers

The A's own tiebreakers against both the Rays and Indians, having won the season series against each club. That means, in the case of a two-team tie between the A's and either Tampa Bay or Cleveland, Oakland would still host the Wild Card Game.

[RELATED: Red-hot A's have work to do to attract fans]

It gets more complicated if all three teams tie for the two wild-card positions. The A's still own the tiebreaker, so they would host the Rays, with the winner earning the top wild-card spot. The Indians would then host the loser, with the winner of that game claiming the second wild-card position.

Of course, if the A's handle their business, it won't come down to tiebreakers.