Yasiel Puig

Source: Giants' free-agency talks with Yasiel Puig 'all but dead'

Source: Giants' free-agency talks with Yasiel Puig 'all but dead'

SAN FRANCISCO -- There were two rumors that floated out Friday morning about the Giants, and the two players involved are as different as can be. 

The Giants are, in fact, signing Hunter Pence to a big league deal. Pence was having a physical Friday afternoon and will get a big league roster spot when the deal is finalized, NBC Sports Bay Area has learned. That means one of the most popular players in recent franchise history can be the highlight at FanFest on Saturday. 

As for the other outfielder the Giants have been connected to, don't hold your breath waiting for Yasiel Puig. 

The Giants did recently have interest in the former Dodger, sources told NBC Sports Bay Area, but they characterized those talks as all but dead. The team still could add an outfielder before position players report to Scottsdale later this month, but after the signings of Pence and Billy Hamilton, Puig is no longer considered a likely option. 

Even before Friday's additions, the Giants weren't sure if Puig was a fit. Aside from the off-field and character concerns, Puig has reverse splits, so he's not a great partner for the left-handed hitting outfielders the Giants already have set for significant time. 

Pence is a nice platoon partner for Alex Dickerson, but the Giants also want to make sure they're giving playing time to their younger outfielders. Jaylin Davis, Steven Duggar, Austin Slater and Chris Shaw are among those they want to take a longer look at. 

[RELATED: Why adding Pence makes sense]

"That's really the question and the challenge, leaving some opportunity for that group of players," president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said Thursday. "That may push us more, if we add someone, it's maybe not a 150-game everyday guy. It's maybe somebody who can be part of a rotation where there's still some playing time up for grabs for some of those younger guys."

MLB rumors: Giants interested in signing Yasiel Puig in free agency

MLB rumors: Giants interested in signing Yasiel Puig in free agency

There's a saying in sports that goes like this: If you're projected to be bad, at least be fun. The Giants seem to be big fans of that idea. 

San Francisco already brought back Pablo Sandoval for the 2020 season, and NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic has learned that the Giants and Hunter Pence are discussing a reunion. The band is coming back together, so why not add one of the biggest rivals in franchise history? 

Now we're having fun. 

MLB Insider Robert Murray reported Friday that the Giants have interest in signing free-agent outfielder Yasiel Puig. 

Sure, Giants fans might have mixed emotions on this news but it makes a ton of sense. The Giants badly need right-handed power hitters and Puig would give them a big boost offensively, one that fans have been clamoring to get for years. 

Puig, 29, hit 24 homers, drove in 84 runs and had a .785 OPS between the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland 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).

Oh, and he can hit at Oracle Park. Puig hit .417 with two homers in three games playing in San Francisco last season. 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. 

Puig became an instant Giants nemesis with the Los Angeles 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. 

[RELATED: Zaidi believes impact of Astros' sign-stealing overstated]

Both of those players are gone with MadBum on the Arizona Diamondbacks and Hundley working for MLB. In recent years, a lot of fun has left the ballpark in San Francisco, too. Let's bring some back. 

Remember kids, if you're projected to be bad, at least be fun. When you add entertainment, wins certainly could follow.

MLB free agency: Which players still on market fit Giants' 2020 plans?

MLB free agency: Which players still on market fit Giants' 2020 plans?

If you want Giants news these days, your best bet is probably Instagram. Logan Webb got engaged a few days ago, and Steven Duggar got married. Brandon Crawford is in Switzerland, Tyler Beede made a cameo in his wife's movie and Johnny Cueto's workout videos are providing consistent entertainment value. 

As for the actual roster, it has been, uhh, remarkably slow. 

The Giants have another month to make an impact, but as they did a year ago, they've been filling in around the edges. A starting pitching candidate here and catching depth there. You can expect them to once again try to lock up some veterans to non-guaranteed spring deals, but before the market hits that point, there are some big names that still need to come off the board. 

Here, in the first full week of January, let's take a look at what's remaining, and what might make sense for the Giants ... 

Outfield

Josh Donaldson is the best player still available, but the third baseman is not a fit for the Giants in any respect. They do desperately need outfield help, though, and Nicholas Castellanos, Marcell Ozuna and Yasiel Puig are still out there. 

Castellanos has been linked to the Giants a couple of times this offseason, but there has been no smoke in recent weeks. He reportedly is seriously considering the Texas Rangers, who have been trying to add a right-handed bat.

Castellanos is young enough -- he turns 28 in March -- that he would still theoretically be in his prime when the Giants are ready to contend again, but Farhan Zaidi hasn't given out a multi-year deal since coming over. Ozuna is 29 and brings similar thump, but he also figures to get three or four years at a healthy annual salary. 

Puig is a true wild card, as he has always been. Years of antics have cost him any hope of a long-term deal, so in theory he's a fit -- a right-handed power bat who can play right field and possibly would get just a one-year deal. But the Giants have spent the last two months talking about the importance of culture. Bringing Puig into Madison Bumgarner's old clubhouse would be an odd way to change the culture. 

After those three, it gets pretty shallow. Hunter Pence might be the next best corner outfielder. Kevin Pillar is the best center fielder remaining. Neither reunion is happening. 

Starting pitching

The market is pretty much aligned on veterans with some warts. The better ones get one year at around $9 million, and the next tier comes in at one year and $5 million to $6 million. The Giants are taking flyers on Kevin Gausman, Tyler Anderson and Tyson Ross, and they're probably not done. 

Ivan Nova, Alex Wood, Taijuan Walker, Jimmy Nelson and Felix Hernandez are among the veterans still out there. When you're a rebuilding club that figures to be a seller on July 31, you want to take bigger swings, so Walker and Nelson could be particularly intriguing. Nelson had a huge 2017 season but then needed shoulder surgery; Walker is a former top prospect who showed flashes in Arizona before having Tommy John surgery, and he's still just 27. 

Wood was an All-Star for Zaidi in Los Angeles but made just seven starts for the Reds last year. The Giants are awfully right-handed in the rotation, so Wood might make a lot of sense as starting depth for a team that signed Derek Holland and Drew Pomeranz this time a year ago. 

Bullpen

Last February, Nick Vincent walked into the room well after camp had started. The Giants can follow that path again to add veterans to their very young bullpen mix, and there are plenty of established pitchers still out there. Steve Cishek, Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon and Jerry Blevins are among the group of relievers still looking for a home. 

Expect the Giants to add at least one established big leaguer, but there's no reason for them to do it in January. There will be relievers looking for a home and a fresh start as reporting day approaches next month. 

[RELATED: Why Krukow's 'excited' about Giants' improved farm system]

General depth

If you've been paying attention, it's not really a surprise that the Giants haven't made a splash. They want to give opportunities to younger players and avoid giving out any deals that will look bad in a couple of years, so the top of the market was never all that realistic. But they still could use backups in several areas, or else a few injuries to core players will leave them with a borderline Triple-A lineup. 

Brock Holt would be a nice choice as a utility man, and Ben Zobrist, Brian Dozier and Jason Kipnis are all free agents. Matt Duffy and Joe Panik are still out there, although a Panik reunion certainly isn't happening. A Duffy reunion might please a lot of fans who have given up on the team in recent months, though.

Zaidi wants flexibility with roster spots, so the preference certainly is going to be toward players who can start the year in Triple-A or be optioned back and forth. But manager Gabe Kapler could use more experience on his bench, and the 26th roster spot should make it a bit easier to carry another veteran.