Jay Bruce

Giants should trade for Mitch Haniger after Mariners-Mets blockbuster

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USATSI

Giants should trade for Mitch Haniger after Mariners-Mets blockbuster

Well, it’s happening: Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz will be members of the Mets, pending physicals, according to multiple national reports. They’re leaving Seattle in a blockbuster trade and that means a lot.

The Mariners weren’t supposed to trade Diaz unless they were “super overwhelmed to consider a deal for him." 

This “overwhelming deal” turned out to be the Mariners acquiring outfielder Jay Bruce plus prospects Jarred Kelenic, Anthony Swarzak, Justin Dunn, and Gerson Bautista.

With that said, it’s possible the Mariners are going to continue to do Mariner-like things at the hands of Jerry Dipoto. And we haven’t even arrived at the Winter Meetings yet.

Still, this doesn’t mean bad news, especially for Bay Area baseball fans.  As bizarre as some of the trades the Mariners GM makes are, the Giants could use that to their advantage. That means an outfield that possesses Mitch Haniger, another Mariner who was thought to be out of trade talks but very well could be now.

Hometown boy

For starters, the outfielder is a Bay Area-native which means he wouldn’t mind revisiting his old stomping grounds. He was born in Mountain View, attended Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, and went to Cal Poly. 

Sure -- those are just the feel-good storylines that you put to a “homecoming” theme song during a video montage, but there’s more. 

The Giants really  need him

Another important reason would be the fact that well, the Giant are starving for outfielders like Dipoto is starving to make weird trades. So why not take advantage of it?

At the moment, the depth chart for the Giants looks as follows:

A bit young, right? 

Yes, we know the “rebuilding” phrase is going to be used over and over again. But that doesn’t mean someone with years under his belt roaming the outfield and being one of the most underrated players in the league shouldn’t be considered. If anything, he’s needed. 

[RELATED: Giants rebuild could be full year away]

No stranger to NL West

OK, before you get all in my mentions about how he performs at AT&T Park -- we don’t really know. It’s a ridiculously small sample size: Seven at-bats and nine plate appearances in two games. In those few outings, however, he did slash .286/.444/.286. 

But …

He played in 34 games with the D-backs in 2016. And while it’s still a relatively small sample size, it’s not like this will be a complete culture shock for him. He’s had enough time in the NL West to hopefully feel comfortable. 

The FA outfield market … or lack thereof

Alex Pavlovic reminded us that the market for outfielders isn’t filled to the brim with moments to gather them up like a bushels of apples. So, in order to get the type of talent the team needs, it’s important to acquire the Haniger-types in deals like this. 

And with the Hot Stove at a mere simmer, sometimes you have to light that baby yourself. 

Would Dipoto be “overwhelmed” with a package centered around Joey Bart, Heliot Ramos or Shaun Anderson? Perhaps, but you never really know with Dipoto. 

Ramos has the highest ceiling of any Giants prospect since Buster Posey -- so it goes without saying he’s good. Can the outfielder take the place of Haniger? Well yes, but not now. The 19-year-old still has a few years to be spent in the minor leagues, but it’s certainly something to think about.

The Mariners outfield will be just fine

Yes, the Mariners outfield situation would take a hit, but they’ve got plenty of talent covering space at Safeco.

Ben Gamel can come through in the clutch when he’s needed. The team has a hidden gem in Kristopher Negron, and Mallex Smith is fast and dominates defensively when he’s playing right field. And remember -- the team is getting Jay Bruce. 

So, perhaps -- see you soon, Mitch Haniger? 

Report: Linked to Giants, Jay Bruce agrees to multi-year deal elsewhere

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USATSI

Report: Linked to Giants, Jay Bruce agrees to multi-year deal elsewhere

Jay Bruce is not coming to San Francisco.

The 31-year-old free agent outfielder is returning to New York, reportedly agreeing to a three-year, $39 million deal to stay with the Mets according to multiple national outlets.

The Giants were rumored to have interested in the services of Bruce, and according to USA Today, they were "heavily" in on him.

Back in December 20, ESPN reported that they Giants wanted to sign Bruce but were not willing to go beyond a three-year deal.

That same day, Bruce's agent went on the radio and made it sound like San Francisco was his client's top choice.

"I think if Jay ends up in San Francisco he'd be thrilled," Matt Sosnick said on KNBR on Dec. 20.

Bruce began the 2017 season with the Mets but was traded to the Indians mid-season. In 146 games between the two clubs, he hit .254/.324/.508 with 29 doubles, 36 home runs and 101 RBI.

Could Kelby Tomlinson be part of Giants' solution in outfield?

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Could Kelby Tomlinson be part of Giants' solution in outfield?

SAN FRANCISCO — The “hot stove” seemed to finally get going Wednesday morning when several reporters tweeted that Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole was headed to Houston. 

Would that lead to free agent starters signing deals they had in hand? Would the Pirates finally tear it down and trade Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison, too? Would the Giants be on the other end of a McCutchen deal?

Well … none of the above. Cole hasn’t been traded, at least as of this posting, and the offseason remains as quiet as ever. 

But, there are still Giants topics to go over, so here’s another round of Q&A as we wait for real moves. Thanks to everyone who reached out on Twitter and Facebook, and as a reminder, you can ask your questions here on Twitter or here on Facebook and I’ll get to them in these mailbag pieces or on the podcast. 

What is Kelby’s role? Can’t they groom him for center field and put him in the leadoff spot? — Frankie Jai Barker, via Facebook. 

Kelby Tomlinson has played parts of three seasons in the big leagues and the staff has simply never really viewed him as a starter. It’s a bit weird when you look at his career splits: he has a .280/.347/.352 slash line as a starter and a .292/.359/.348 line off the bench. I mean, he is what he is, an average-dependent player with intriguing speed and little power, but that’s a nice piece on a team without much depth. 

Tomlinson is blocked at every infield spot, and to answer this specific question, the Giants don’t believe that he can really transition to the outfield.

At the same time, I watched this front office and coaching staff put Aaron Hill in left field at the end of his career. I watched Travis Ishikawa move out there. I watched Ryan Theriot take fly balls. I have no idea why Tomlinson got just two starts in the outfield on a 98-loss team. The most underrated failure of the 2017 season is that the Giants saw practically no development at the big league level. A lot of that had to do prospects getting hurt, but the staff certainly missed an opportunity to experiment a bit with guys like Tomlinson or Chris Shaw, who I still believe should have gotten September at-bats.

Steve Young retired after his fourth concussion in three years. Brandon Belt is in that ballpark. Has he or the team given retirement a thought? — Patrick Connolly, via Facebook

Belt’s concussion in August was his third in the last four seasons and fourth in eight years when you include a really bad one he suffered while playing at the University of Texas. There was concern when this latest one happened and I’m sure Belt and the team still have concerns, but in talking to Belt and team officials, I’ve never heard a hint of retirement talk. In September, when he admitted his season was over, Belt said he was focused on 2018, and added that none of the doctors he has seen have told him he should stop playing. 

“There are always going to be some questions about whether this has some long-term effects, and hopefully it doesn’t,” Belt told me. “But right now it’s not going to keep me from playing baseball … It’s not like I’m repeatedly banging my head against something. If that was the case, it might affect me more in the long term. This is more sporadic and the hits aren’t too terrible. Once I get over these concussions, they tell me that I won’t have to worry about them anymore.”

For the sake of Belt and his family, you hope that that’s true. This is different than football in that Belt doesn’t really have any other collisions that have gone undiagnosed, and there’s no reason to think he’ll take another blow to the head. As I always say when people call him injury prone, people just need to stop throwing baseballs at Belt and he’ll be fine. Hopefully that’s the case for the rest of his career.

Why would the Giants pursue either a free agent (Bruce) or a rental player (McCutchen), rather than try to get a player that they would have more control over the next few years? I would think that the allure of having a stable lineup would be better than the volatility of the market. — Eric Quertermous, via Facebook. 

In a perfect world, the Giants would have walked away from the Winter Meetings with Marcell Ozuna, or they would be at the front of the line for Christian Yelich, or they would have a deal ready for Jackie Bradley Jr. Unfortunately, they live in a world where they just don’t have very many prospects that appeal to other teams. The Marlins made it clear that the Giants didn’t have enough to get Ozuna, who would have solved a ton of their problems, and there’s no way they can outbid others for Yelich, who is 26 years old and owed just $44.5 million over the next four years. 

This is why Brian Sabean has said that he doesn’t want to give up draft picks (second and fifth rounders) for a player like Lorenzo Cain, and it’s why I believe strongly that they need to stick to those guns, no matter how weird this offseason gets. To compete as this core ages, they’ll need a better farm system so they can be more competitive on the trade market. 

Or, a more ideal situation: Start developing homegrown stars again and then lock those guys up. That’s light years more efficient than their recent run of spending hundreds of millions in free agency. 

With Matt Moore gone, is Ty Blach back in the rotation? Stratton, Beede, Suarez or get a vet starter to round out the top five? — @Jeff_Henig

After the Moore trade, I kept thinking back to a conversation I had with Bruce Bochy in September. I asked him if Chris Stratton was legit and if he would be the No. 5 starter in 2018. “I think he’s more than that,” Bochy said. He always viewed Stratton as more than a swing guy, and I would expect the right-hander to open the year as the No. 4 starter. The Giants have been hesitant to say much about Blach’s role before he gets to spring training, but my gut says he’s headed for the bullpen as another lefty/long reliever. As I wrote in an earlier mailbag, don’t overlook Andrew Suarez in the race for the No. 5 spot, but my guess is that the Giants will sign a veteran to a minor league deal, and that he will win the job in Scottsdale. That’s what they do. 

Alex, wondering if Eduardo Nuñez is still available? Would definitely prefer to see Nuñez over Pablo Sandoval. — Mark Hanes, via Facebook. 

Mark, I’m sure the rest of the fan base agrees, and Nuñez is still looking for a job. Ken Rosenthal wrote recently that some established big leaguers have started to ask their agents if they’ll have to take minor league deals, and if Nuñez is sitting there in a month and looking at nothing but cheap one-year offers, I would absolutely make the call. He would be perfect as super-utility backup, and man, this team sure could use more guys with energy. I’ve got to think that eventually someone will give him $4-5 million or so, and the Giants would be better served using that kind of money on their bullpen, but who knows … this continues to be the weirdest offseason in recent memory.