Donovan Solano

Giants re-sign Donovan Solano, non-tender four others before deadline

Giants re-sign Donovan Solano, non-tender four others before deadline

SAN FRANCISCO -- Kevin Pillar wasn't the only Giant to be let go ahead of Monday's deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players. 

The Giants also non-tendered left-hander Tyler Anderson, right-hander Rico Garcia and outfielder Joey Rickard while agreeing to one-year deals with outfielder Alex Dickerson, infielder Donovan Solano and left-hander Wandy Peralta. 

The Pillar decision was the surprising one of the day, but president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said the Giants wanted to take a look at younger outfield options. That did not include Rickard, a 28-year-old who made 26 appearances for the Giants last year and showed some promise as a platoon option. The sides apparently could not reach a deal despite some optimism as the deadline approached.

Solano, who broke through as a backup infielder in 2019, will be back and should provide depth behind Mauricio Dubon and Brandon Crawford. Peralta, a hard-throwing lefty acquired from the Reds late in the year, should get a shot to win a bullpen job. 

[RELATED: Giants reportedly looking to hire Indians infield coach Correa]

Other than Pillar, the most interesting decision might have come with Anderson. The lefty struggled in five starts for the Rockies last season but was a solid back-end starter the previous three years. The Giants claimed him off waivers earlier in the offseason and hoped to lock him up to a small one-year deal that could put him in position to win a rotation spot.

Like Pillar, Garcia and Rickard, Anderson is now a free agent. 

Giants have contract decisions to make on Kevin Pillar, other veterans

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USATSI

Giants have contract decisions to make on Kevin Pillar, other veterans

SAN FRANCISCO -- The move might not have made headlines outside of Baltimore, but it was one that had many within the industry grumbling. 

The Orioles, in full tank mode, opted to place infielder Jonathan Villar on outright waivers last week rather than pay him about $10 million in arbitration. Villar isn't a household name, but he arguably was Baltimore's best player, and in that sense, he's similar to a man who is awaiting a decision from the Giants. 

Kevin Pillar is projected to make nearly $10 million in his final year of arbitration and the Giants could argue that they would be better-served long-term by giving those at-bats to a younger option and spending their resources in a different way. But the Giants are not the Orioles, and in no way should they resemble them, really, which is what makes Monday's decision so fascinating.

The Giants have until 5 p.m. PT to tender a contract to Pillar and five others, and their decisions will tell us a lot about the direction the front office is going. 

President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has talked often over the last year of being competitive while building a new foundation, and Pillar, the Willie Mac Award winner, was a big part of the limited success the Giants did have in 2019, hitting 21 homers and driving in 88 runs while providing plenty of highlights in center field.

There are reasons why the tender decision isn't a slam dunk, though. Pillar ranked 68th out of 69 qualified hitters in the NL with a .293 on-base percentage and while his pitchers love having him in center field, the defensive metrics don't match the eye test. Pillar also turns 31 in January, although he said at the end of the season that he doesn't anticipate slowing down at all.  

"When I was in college and working towards getting to this moment, they used to say that baseball players enter their prime around 30 to 32, and I never forgot that," Pillar said. "I know the game statistically is getting younger, but to me age is just a number. I take care of myself, I eat the right foods, I believe in stretching and working hard and working out.

"I think it's no coincidence that at age 30 I'm having my best year."

Pillar's detailed pre-game routine had him on the field 161 times in 2019, and that's a big reason why the Giants are expected to agree to a deal with their center fielder, whether Monday or before a hearing in February. They might be rebuilding, but they still need to give fans a reason to show up next April, and Pillar was a big one in 2019. 

[RELATED: Giants weighing present vs. future with Pillar]

The other decisions don't involve nearly as much money, but they'll shed some light into what Zaidi and Scott Harris are planning. Alex Dickerson is projected to earn about $1.2 million, per MLB Trade Rumors, the same number the reliable site had for Donovan Solano.

Do Zaidi and Harris believe they can find cheaper, more flexible alternatives for the bench? 

Tyler Anderson, who the Giants picked up from the Rockies in early November, is projected at $2.6 million and a commitment that size would be a strong indication that Anderson is part of the 2020 rotation.

Joey Rickard ($1.1 million) is expected to be non-tendered and the Giants also have to make a call on pitcher Wandy Peralta, who is projected at just $800K but occupies a 40-man spot that may be more valuable if used on someone else later in the offseason. 

Giants Mailbag: Will this be another slow offseason for MLB free agency?

Giants Mailbag: Will this be another slow offseason for MLB free agency?

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Astros fly home today needing just one win for a second World Series title in three years, meaning the rest of Major League Baseball potentially is a week from the start of the offseason. 

The Giants could have a new manager by this time next week, and a new GM shortly after that, and then the heavy lifting starts. They have rotation holes, a lineup that doesn't hit at Oracle Park, and a bullpen that lost key pieces at the deadline and could see Will Smith and Tony Watson depart in free agency. 

There's a lot to figure out, and while it's not quite the offseason, it's about time to dive back in. I asked for some Giants/offseason questions on Instagram and got a lot of good ones, some of which were answered on the latest Giants Insider Podcast (with guest Logan Webb). If you have a burning question, hit me up on Twitter or Instagram for a future mailbag. 

Here's the first one of the offseason: 

Should Giants fans even have hope this free agency period? The past 2 years have made me cry. -- slaps29

Welp. Let's get right to it. 

I know the "Giants always finish in second place" thing drives fans nuts, but it's not necessarily a bad thing. I mean, they might have been one break away from landing Bryce Harper in February. It's good to be in the mix, and I think they'll be in the conversation for some marquee free agents this winter. 

On the other hand, I don't know that they're ready to make a splash. Harper was a special case last offseason because of his age -- and there was a marketability factor, given where ticket sales were and still are -- but this winter's free agents won't move the needle in the same way. 

Farhan Zaidi's style is to be in on everyone and see if there's an opportunity, so I don't think it'll be a boring offseason. Perhaps there will be a surprise, but they sure seem to still be in the "incremental improvement" stage of this Rebuild That's Not Called A Rebuild. 

With Crawford's down year do you think we'll see more Solano + Dubon (in) middle infield in 2020? -- irjimmyg

Solano had a sneaky-good year, but the Giants didn't seem to fully trust it. He lost time to Scooter Gennett and then Mauricio Dubon, who I do think is the guy who will cut into Crawford's playing time. 

Dubon has a limited track record in MLB, but he hit lefties well in the minors and certainly has the glove to handle shortstop. If the Giants increase their middle infield depth in general, you'll see Dubon -- who could be the everyday starter at second base -- cut into Crawford's time at short, as well.

This will be an interesting spring and season for Crawford and other core Giants. The new manager almost certainly won't have ties to them and won't be as committed to keeping them in the lineup (or the heart of the lineup in one case). 

Who is a sleeper player you can see surprising at big league camp? -- nilesgraham

I'm not sure if this qualifies, but I'm going to be fascinated to see what kind of runway the Giants give Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos next spring. More and more, big league teams are giving their best prospects a chance to win a job coming out of spring training (Pete Alonso and Fernando Tatis Jr. are two examples from this year), and while it's still a bit too soon for Bart and Ramos, I don't think it's out of the question that one of them puts himself in the conversation with a huge spring. 

Bart, in particular, is just about big league ready with the bat, and there will be plenty of at-bats waiting for him next spring. Both of these guys are ticketed for Triple-A, currently, but they'll get a chance to open eyes in February and March. 

Do you think names like Cyr and Adon will get a shot this year? -- _juanvillasenor_

That would be Tyler Cyr and Melvin Adon, two hard-throwing right-handed relievers who are in slightly different situations. I do think both will get a shot next year. 

Cyr was on the fast track and made it to big league camp in 2018 before suffering an elbow fracture that knocked him out for six months. At the time, he sent me a message that said "will be back pain free and stronger than ever," and his 2019 season was certainly encouraging. 

Now 26, Cyr had a 2.05 ERA in 37 Double-A appearances, striking out 57 and allowing just one homer in 48 1/3 innings. Cyr joined Sacramento's bullpen for a their postseason run and should start there next season. 

Unlike Cyr, Adon is on the 40-man roster, so he could get his first look pretty quickly. He actually was up on the taxi squad at the trade deadline just in case the Giants dealt another reliever or two. 

Adon has closer stuff, a triple-digits fastball and hard slider that dominated the Eastern League. Triple-A wasn't nearly so kind, as he allowed 16 earned runs in 10 1/3 innings, but he did have 18 strikeouts.

That rough PCL stint cost him a September look, but something would have to go seriously wrong for him not to get an opportunity in 2020. Cyr has a longer road because of the roster issue, but the Giants used approximately 324 relievers in 2018, so you'll see him if he keeps throwing as he did in Double-A. 

Are the Giants going to keep Smith? -- dominiclovesthegiants

They've been burned by paying relievers before, but I do think there's one path to a reunion. 

I wouldn't be surprised if Zaidi gives Smith the qualifying offer, and it might be hard for him to turn down $17.8 million for one season given some of the uncertainty in free agency in recent years. He should get much more than that, but long-term, might he be better off cashing in for a year and then hitting the market at 31? That would be an interesting decision.

Other than that, I have a hard-time seeing a long-term contract getting done. 

Do you think this offseason will be slow to develop like last year? -- kfitz023

I'll turn this one over to Zaidi. Here's what he said at his end-of-season press conference:

"The free agent market has extended an uncomfortably long time for all involved and I know that's a topic of conversation around the game. Unfortunately, I don't see any reason why it would be any different this offseason. I think some of the top names in free agency may wind up being out there for a while because there's just no incentive on either side to get something done sooner."

Yep, it'll be another slow one, especially with Scott Boras -- who had Harper sit out the start of last spring -- representing Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon and most of the biggest names. It's not good for the sport, but it is what it is. Get ready for another winter of rumors that won't lead to much until January and February ...