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MLB rumors: Yolmer Sanchez, Giants agree to minor league contract

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MLB rumors: Yolmer Sanchez, Giants agree to minor league contract

With two weeks until workouts begin at Scottsdale Stadium, the Giants reportedly have added another player to the mix at second base. 

Yolmer Sanchez, who won a Gold Glove at second base for the White Sox last season, will be in camp as a non-roster invitee, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. According to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, Sanchez turned down two major league jobs in order to compete for the starting job in San Francisco. 

The Giants ended 2019 with Mauricio Dubon providing excitement at second base, but the plan is for Dubon to move around this season, getting starts at shortstop as well and possibly filling the hole in center field. Sanchez, a switch-hitter, will enter the spring competing with Dubon and Donovan Solano for playing time at second base. 

The 27-year-old was a surprise Gold Glove winner last season, beating out Jose Altuve and D.J. LeMahieu to become the first White Sox position player to win a Gold Glove since 1998. Sanchez grew up idolizing Omar Vizquel, and he led AL second basemen last season with 11 Defensive Runs Saved. 

That was not enough, however, to keep him on the roster of an up-and-coming White Sox team. The defense had Sanchez due for a raise in arbitration and the White Sox waived him in early December. 

While Sanchez is elite with the glove, he has been a light hitter in the big leagues. Sanchez had a .252/.318/.321 slash line last year with two homers in 555 plate appearances. By OPS+, he has been below league average as a hitter in all six of his big league seasons, but he did do a decent job against lefties last season -- posting a .738 OPS -- and that could put him in the lineup with Dubon or Solano at times.

Sanchez also has experience at third base and the Giants do not currently have a backup for Evan Longoria. 

[RELATED: Giants to have a competition for backup catcher]

The Giants jettisoned a player with a similar profile -- Joe Panik -- last summer and turned the job over to Dubon, who had a .754 OPS down the stretch. A starting group of Sanchez, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford and Longoria would give the Giants one of the strongest defensive infields in the NL, although they'll have to find offense somewhere.

The lineup still has not been notably upgraded this offseason, though.

Giants Mailbag: Does management care about vocal fans' displeasure?

Giants Mailbag: Does management care about vocal fans' displeasure?

I walked past a Giants team store the other day while doing some last-minute shopping and wasn't all that surprised when I looked inside. There was nobody there. 

It would be hard to find many Giants fans right now who are excited about gifting someone a jersey or game-used bat after the year the organization just had. It probably doesn't help that there's a rack of No. 40 shirseys prominently displayed near the front door. It's been a rough year in just about every respect, but it'll soon be 2020, and a new year brings some new hope. At the very least, it gets you a bit closer to 2021, which is a more realistic goal for any fans hoping to see a competitive product. 

To put a bow on 2019, I asked my Instagram followers for their questions about the team, the offseason and the future. Thanks to everyone who reached out. There were so many good ones that I'm splitting this mailbag into two parts, with Friday's version focusing on prospects and minor leaguers. Here's a run through some of the better ones about this offseason and the state of the franchise ... 

I'm confused, they haven't done anything but to dismantle. Anything expected? -- @giantroby

As I wrote after Madison Bumgarner signed with the Diamondbacks, this is what a rebuild looks like. The Giants will never come out and say it, but they spent most of 2019 taking a step back and focusing on future rosters, and they're doing even more of that next year. 

Every decision should be viewed this way: How does this help the Giants in 2021 or 2022? This is why Kevin Pillar, a free agent after next season, is gone in favor of younger outfielders. It's why Kevin Gausman will get the opportunity to turn into a good July trade chip. I do expect the Giants to be active in January, but I don't think those moves will make them all that much better next season. 

Do the Giants know how discouraged and worried the fans are? -- @romareb
What's the Giants management reaction to the discontent among their fans? -- @woodiewoodf14
Does the Giants management care the fans didn't want Kapler as the manager? -- @berto613

I grouped these together because a lot of people asked similar questions. Since Gabe Kapler was hired, I've spent a lot of time chatting with people at just about every level of the organization. Ownership. Front office. Coaching staff. Players. Marketing. They are all very, very aware of how discouraged and upset the fan base is, and I can tell you that team executives truly do care.

But they also believe that the best way out of this is to let Farhan Zaidi do whatever he feels is necessary to build a sustainable winner, which includes hiring Kapler. They believe that the fans will return when the team wins, and I actually agree with them there. 

I don't think the Giants are putting a great product out there for their fans right now, and I disagree with some of their recent moves (you can rebuild and spend money, for instance). But if they're winning in two years, fans will flood back. Think about how popular guys like Gregor Blanco and Travis Ishikawa still are in this town. It's because they helped the Giants win. 

[RELATED: What Kapler has learned during first month with Giants]

Do you predict a free agent signing or a big trade? -- @rltuckjr

The prices haven't really come down -- $80 million for Hyun-Jin Ryu feels particularly aggressive -- so it's hard to predict a big signing. But I do think the Giants will swing a noteworthy trade in January. There are too many big-market teams out there with a stated desire to cut payroll -- the Cubs and Red Sox are at the top of the list -- and the Giants have made it clear they're willing to take on your bad contracts if you sweeten the pot enough.

Will the Giants sign Castellanos? -- @haileyllanez 

Nicholas Castellanos is one of the few impact players still out there this late, and it's clear there's mutual interest. He's only 27, so he would certainly fill a need and also the timetable for this franchise. Bryce Harper's age was a big part of the appeal earlier this year. 

But ... I still don't get the sense the Giants are ready to give someone a massive four- or five-year deal, and Castellanos reportedly still has some big-market teams chasing him. I think the Giants like the player, but sources say their status as the frontrunner is overblown. I wouldn't bet money on them signing any big free agent this offseason. 

What will the payroll look like going into 2022? -- @stayathomebuzz

This is the most fascinating question for me going forward. 

The Giants are currently around $150 million in CBT payroll, which is nearly $50 million less than what we grew accustomed to for most of the decade. They're cutting back because there are so many bad contracts on the books, but by 2022, Evan Longoria will be the only veteran under contract. 

Will they spend more as the Samardzijas, Cuetos, Brandons, etc. come off the books? That, I think, is the biggest question to be answered. It's worth noting that the Dodgers only have $16 million committed to their 2022 roster, and Zaidi will aim to have that same flexibility as he builds. But at some point, you also need to overpay to bring in the best players. The Dodgers have been unwilling to take that final leap, so the hope for Giants fans should be that this team takes a slightly different approach.

Who do you see the Giants looking (at) for starting pitching? -- @elizlk

I ran through some of the familiar names after Bumgarner departed. All of the marquee free agents are off the board, but I would expect the Giants to find another veteran or two looking for a soft landing spot (Alex Wood, in particular, makes a lot of sense). Remember, they signed Derek Holland and Drew Pomeranz last January. There are similar players still out there. Hell, Holland himself is still out there. 

Samardzija and Cueto are still on the roster and should lead the way (although I do think Samardzija could be a decent trade chip right now), but after that you'll see a lot of veterans on one-year deals and younger pitchers like Tyler Beede and Logan Webb. 

Will MadBum ever return in some way? (Veteran FA or player development position) -- @daniel_rmills

The days of bringing #ForeverGiants back are over, so you can cross out the first option. Bumgarner would be a fantastic pitching coach or instructor if he wanted that life, but he's much more in the Tim Lincecum mold than the Ryan Vogelsong one. I don't think you'll see Bumgarner that often once he retires. 

Are the Giants gonna be worse next year? -- @johan_kia

Late in the season, a pre-mustache Kerry Crowley made a fantastic point as we were discussing the future. The 2019 Giants went 13-3 in extra-inning games and an MLB-best 38-16 in one-run games. Can you really see a young team with an inexperienced bullpen coming even close to matching that next year?

Even if the Giants find ways to improve the roster, they're going to lose a lot more of those coin-flip games. There's variance there year-to-year anyway. So yeah, it may be really tough for them to get back to last year's 77-win mark. 

What do you think the starting outfield will be 2020 opening day? -- @kfitz023

The Giants started Connor Joe and Michael Reed on opening day last year, so it's a bad idea to try to predict what the outfield will look like in three months. 

Move Buster to 1B, trade Belt? -- @haroldstuart

Ahhh, our first Trade Belt question. Long live the #BeltWars. 

I'll just say this, Brandon Belt has a lot of fans in the revamped front office/coaching staff. You would also be selling low right now. I think the newcomers are eager to work with him, and perhaps they can unlock some production that's been missing the last couple of years. The new ballpark dimensions should help, too. 

Basically, Belt isn't nearly as obvious a trade candidate as most fans might think.

[RELATED: What it was like covering 2012, 2014 Giants]

What are you most excited about the 2020 MLB season -- @mattynorris 

More ballpark food! 

In all seriousness, if you understand that the Giants are rebuilding, I think 2020 might actually be really enjoyable sometimes. You'll see Joey Bart's debut and should see Heliot Ramos and Sean Hjelle and other prospects. Beede and Webb have a ton of potential, and I really do want to see what Shaun Anderson can do as a full-time reliever. Maybe Jaylin Davis breaks through? Maybe Steven Duggar stays healthy? Maybe Mauricio Dubon becomes a versatile, energetic fan favorite like Matt Duffy was? 

Young players won't win right away, but they bring hope and they can be exciting. If you embrace all of that, you'll have a lot more fun next season.

MLB rumors: Madison Bumgarner, D-backs agree to five-year, $85M contract

MLB rumors: Madison Bumgarner, D-backs agree to five-year, $85M contract

SAN FRANCISCO -- Madison Bumgarner took his batting helmet off and tipped it to all corners of Oracle Park, acknowledging a crowd that had come to see Bruce Bochy's final game and hoped to get a glimpse of the manager's longtime ace. It looked to most in attendance that day like Bumgarner was saying goodbye to the Giants and their fans. It turns out he was.

The Madison Bumgarner Era, one of the most successful and thrilling in franchise history, reportedly has reached its end. According to multiple reports, Bumgarner and the Arizona Diamondbacks have agreed to a five-year, $85 million contract.

ESPN's Jeff Passan, who first reported an agreement was near, also reported that Arizona was MadBum's top choice, and the deal was complete once the D-backs decided to give him a five-year contract. 

This was not a surprise that Bumgarner isn't returning to the Giants, or at least it shouldn't be to anyone following closely. The Giants stayed in touch with Bumgarner's camp but were never at the forefront of talks as he hit free agency for the first time, focusing instead on a rebuild that will lead to significant roster changes. Bumgarner expected to be traded throughout much of the first half of 2019, but a winning streak before the deadline kept him in San Francisco two additional months. 

If you go back further, this day has been looming for years. The Giants gave Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt massive extensions and spent $220 million on Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto, but they never ripped up the below-market deal Bumgarner signed as a 22-year-old. The sides played it out until the end of the contract, never coming close to an extension as free agency approached.

Still, for as much as this was telegraphed, it is still a body blow for a fan base that has taken quite a few uppercuts in recent months. 

Bumgarner won more games as a Giant than any other member of the dynasty, going 119-92 with a 3.13 ERA in 11 seasons. He is fourth in franchise history with 1,794 strikeouts and started more games as a San Francisco Giants than anyone other than Juan Marichal and Matt Cain. 

For all that he did in the regular season, Bumgarner will be forever known for his October heroics. He is the best big-game pitcher of his generation, twice throwing shutouts in the Wild Card Game and dragging the Giants to a third title with 52 2/3 masterful innings in the 2014 playoffs. Bumgarner capped that run, the likes of which we will likely never see again, with a five-inning save in Game 7 of the World Series. He finishes his time with the Giants with a 0.25 ERA in World Series appearances.

[RELATED: Giants appreciated how Kershaw handled Bumgarner's moment]

Bumgarner was beloved for much more than the pitching dominance, though. It was appropriate that his final appearance came as a pinch-hitter, because he hit 19 homers in 11 seasons, becoming a mythical figure in San Francisco. There was seemingly nothing he couldn't will himself to when standing between the lines, but that run is officially over for the Giants and their fans.

The Giants are moving in a different direction, building towards 2021 and beyond and turning their pitching staff over to the next wave. It will be a painful process at times, and the organization might look back at this day as the hardest one of them all.