The GM's Office: San Francisco Giants

Updated landing spots for Max Scherzer 

January, 15, 2015
Jan 15
12:18
PM ET
Max Scherzer Mark Cunningham/Getty ImagesMax Scherzer will have a season-altering effect on whoever signs him. But who will that be?
Here we are in the middle of January and the industry’s No. 1 free agent, Max Scherzer, is still unsigned. So I spent this week checking with as many sources as possible, on teams and otherwise, to find out what is really going on with the elite starter.

I found mostly denials of involvement from teams we believe to be in the Scherzer sweepstakes, and then it dawned on me: Most of my sources are MLB team presidents, general managers, assistant general managers, managers, players and agents. Under Scott Boras, Scherzer's agent, modus operandi for players of this stature (in the $140 million to $200 million range) is to go directly to the owners. He knows that every GM would love to have Scherzer in their rotation; it just comes down to money, years and risk. It’s really an owner decision, not one made by the executives under them.

For most clubs, the GMs are in the loop at all times, but that's not always the case. Boras has always had carte blanche, access to meet with most owners directly in person or on the phone. Owners also know that GMs might recommend not signing Scherzer for economic reasons because of dollars or contract length, but owners want to win at the end of the day, too. They also know that Scherzer could be the difference in reaching the postseason. Therefore, as I went digging, although I couldn’t find a raging fire, I did find smoke, some smoldering and an occasional small fire.

Players who benefit from 'non-moves' 

January, 12, 2015
Jan 12
1:09
PM ET
Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada Getty ImagesShortstops Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada had a combined OPS of just .655 for the Mets in 2014.
General managers use the offseason to improve their teams at various positions via free agency, trades, waiver claims and international signings. This offseason, we've witnessed more player movement than we've seen in more than a decade, and aggressive GMs throughout the industry have addressed most of their teams' perceived weaknesses and offseason goals.

However, some GMs simply haven't been able to improve certain positions because they didn't match up well with trade partners, they lacked the financial resources in their budget to persuade free agents to sign with them or they just weren't willing to pay the price, in terms of player talent or dollars, to get the deals done.

When this happens, players get opportunities to win a job in spring training that we otherwise didn't think they'd have a shot for. Or in some cases, players simply get a second chance to prove they belong. Unfortunately, it might their last or only chance.

Here are several pairs of players who, at the moment, look like they will get an opportunity to compete for an everyday job because their teams weren't able to address that position this offseason:

1. Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada, SS, New York Mets

The Mets were very thorough this offseason, checking in on practically every available and unavailable shortstop in baseball.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Likely landing spots for James Shields 

December, 22, 2014
12/22/14
10:30
AM ET
James ShieldsAP Photo/Colin E. BraleyJames Shields is beginning to make his rounds to determine where he'll call home next season.
James Shields has pitched more than 200 innings and won double-digit games eight consecutive years with a 3.64 ERA during that time, and as the leader of the Kansas City Royals' pitching staff, he was instrumental in the development of many of their young successful pitchers. His intangibles are as strong as his durability, and that's why so many clubs covet him.

He did not pitch well in the 2014 postseason, but most teams will overlook that in part because, including spring training, he threw more than 270 innings on the season. His best fits, in my opinion, are the San Francisco Giants and Boston Red Sox, but they're not the only teams that have a chance to sign him.

1. San Francisco Giants

The world champions have had a difficult offseason after losing third baseman Pablo Sandoval to the Boston Red Sox (for basically the same offer they made) and then falling short on their bids for free agents Jon Lester, Melky Cabrera and Chase Headley. (They were able to retain reliever Sergio Romo, who signed for less to stay home.) However, they're still hard at work, and Shields is atop their wish list. They would love to be able to slot him behind Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain and ahead of Tim Hudson and Jake Peavy in their rotation.

The fact that Shields takes the ball for 32-plus starts a year and you can pencil him in for 220-plus innings per season makes him a perfect fit for a team in need of starting-pitching innings, plus his leadership and winning attitude would fit nicely in a clubhouse that has three championships in five years. The Giants also aren't afraid to be the highest bidder here.

Odds they get him: 3-to-1


2. Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox failed in their attempt to bring Lester back to Boston, losing out to the Cubs by more than $20 million dollars. Given their unwillingness to spend a little extra on Lester, it's unlikely they would turn around and sign Max Scherzer for more years and money. Their best option on the trade market is Cole Hamels, but the prospect package it would take to get him makes that a reluctant option for Red Sox GM Ben Cherington. Jordan Zimmermann and Johnny Cueto also have been mentioned as trade options, but that's doubtful given that both of their clubs are potential playoff teams. Therefore, signing Shields might be the team's best option.

Shields would fill the pitching leadership void that has been vacant since the Lester deal; his mentorship of the Red Sox's young pitchers could make overpaying to get him worthwhile here. A rotation of Shields, Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly, Wade Miley and Rick Porcello would make the Red Sox the favorites to win the AL East, in my mind. That said, this is the type of free agent the Red Sox normally offer at least one year less than other teams on the market, which could cost them Shields.

Odds: 5-to-1


3. Texas Rangers

The Rangers have quietly met with Shields and realize that he would not only be an important signing for them to place behind Yu Darvish and ahead of Derek Holland in their rotation, but he would also give them protection if Darvish, Holland, Martin Perez and/or Colby Lewis don't come back fully healthy. Like other teams, they also value his leadership and mentorship qualities.

The real question here is whether the Rangers are willing to spend the kind of money it's going to take to sign Shields after the dreadful results they had last year with their free-agent signing of Shin-Soo Choo and trade for Prince Fielder, who spent much of the season on the disabled list (making eight figures in the process). Rangers assistant GM Thad Levine told me they had a great meeting with Shields and his wife, but the team would have to make a trade or two to lower payroll in order to sign him. That lowers the odds, but it's still quite possible.

Odds: 7-to-1


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Most likely landing spots for Max Scherzer 

December, 17, 2014
12/17/14
11:22
AM ET
Max ScherzerBrad Penner/USA TODAY SportsMax Scherzer went 18-5 with 252 strikeouts and a 3.15 ERA with the Tigers in 2014.
Max Scherzer is considered the No. 1 free agent in this year's class and is expected to get the largest contract of the offseason. In fact, I predicted he will get a seven-year, $189 million deal, a prediction I stand behind despite the fact that he is asking for at least $200 million.

The 30-year-old Scherzer is 91-50 in his career with a 3.58 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. However, it's his performance over the past three years that has separated him from his colleagues. He has become a true ace, with an average wins above replacement of 5.6, which essentially means he alone turns an 88-win team into a 94-win team and a 94-win team into a true championship contender. Scherzer has won 39 games over the past two years, the most of any American League pitcher, with a 3.02 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 10.2 K's per nine innings.

His fastball remains in the 92-95 mph range, and he has a hard, nasty slider, a deceptive changeup and an impressive curveball. He can throw all of his pitches in any count for strikes and has learned how to keep hitters off-balance, with the ability to punch them out with any pitch in his repertoire. He has struck out a staggering 723 hitters over the past three seasons.

Still not impressed? Maybe you need to hear the spiel being laid out by his agent, Scott Boras, who compares him to Peyton Manning. While that's an absurd comparison, Boras certainly makes a strong case as to why the two compare favorably. The bottom line is that Scherzer is an ace and a difference-maker for any team that signs him.

Teams should be lined up for his services. But they're not. One prominent GM told me this week it's due to his asking price and contract length.

"He’s looking for too many years and too much money for the injury risk of any pitcher," said the GM, "let alone a right-hander with a power arm and that type of delivery.”

Only a few teams can afford him, but many of them are passing either because of price, risk or budget constraints.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Five potential trades for Justin Upton 

December, 15, 2014
12/15/14
1:40
PM ET
UptonScott Cunningham/Getty ImagesWith just one year remaining on his contract, Justin Upton has been the subject of recent trade talks.
When the offseason began, many insiders believed a trio of power-hitting outfielders would be dealt, including former Dodger Matt Kemp, former Red Sox left fielder Yoenis Cespedes and the Braves' Justin Upton. Kemp already has been traded (to the Padres), as has Cespedes (to the Tigers) … now we wait to see where the Braves trade Upton.

At age 27, Upton is just entering his prime years after another solid season (.270/.342/.491, 34 doubles, 29 home runs, 102 RBIs). The Braves would love to sign him long term, but with the recent signing of Giancarlo Stanton and the Braves' own signing of Freddie Freeman, the market has quickly inflated in terms of both years and dollars, which lessens the Braves' chances of retaining him. Atlanta also has Evan Gattis, who can play catcher and left field (albeit below average) and whom they control for five more seasons. If the Braves are unable to extend Upton, the smart business decision would be to trade Gattis as well. The team would take a step back in 2015, but the Braves would be building a squad that is ready to win when their new ballpark opens in 2017.

The Braves are ideally looking for young starting pitching and a second base upgrade in return for Upton, but like any other trade scenario, they're more concerned about the overall talent, affordability and controllability coming back in this type of transaction.

There are at least five clubs that remain interested in Upton, and here's an idea of what the return would look like with each of those teams:

1. San Diego Padres

Padres rookie GM A.J. Preller is focused on improving the Padres' lineup for 2015 and is off to a great start in landing Kemp.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

How do the Giants replace Sandoval? 

November, 25, 2014
11/25/14
9:05
AM ET
Brian SabeanChristopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY SportsGiants GM Brian Sabean might have to be creative in figuring out a way to replace Pablo Sandoval.
The San Francisco Giants have won the World Series every other year since 2010,
and the departure of Pablo Sandoval to the Boston Red Sox via free agency makes it even more likely the Giants will continue that pattern of not being able to repeat as champs. But don't tell that to GM Brian Sabean or manager Bruce Bochy, who plan to get to work immediately on replacing Sandoval's bat in the middle of their lineup while improving or maintaining the starting rotation and the depth in their bullpen.

The Giants can go in many different directions here with both left field and third base now in need of a big bat. Their first option is free-agent Cuban defector Yasmani Tomas, whom the team is in the bidding process for.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

10 bold predictions for this offseason 

November, 20, 2014
11/20/14
11:17
AM ET
Major League Baseball's offseason is in full swing, complete with 13-year contracts, a trade including a Gold Glover and a good, young pitcher, and a key free-agent signing or two. But that's just the beginning of this wild and wooly offseason.

With that, here are 10 bold predictions I see happening in the weeks ahead:

lastname
1. Jon Lester re-signs with the Boston Red Sox

Most analysts think Lester has pitched his last game for the Red Sox. … I'm not one of them. I think the Chicago Cubs will offer the most years (six) and dollars, but a return to Boston for fewer years (five) and less money is my prediction. The Red Sox desperately need a top-of-rotation starter and won't be a legitimate contender unless they get one. Lester was happy in Boston, and unless the Cubs blow the Sox's offer away, I think that's where he lands.


lastname
2. Marlins sign James Shields

The Marlins shocked the baseball world with the signing of Giancarlo Stanton to a 13-year deal, and they'll do it again by landing a top-of-rotation starter.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

What's next for the San Francisco Giants? 

October, 30, 2014
10/30/14
1:30
AM ET
Pablo Sandoval, Jake PeavyGetty ImagesThird baseman Pablo Sandoval and pitcher Jake Peavy are expected to become free agents soon.
What's next for the San Francisco Giants? Well, how 'bout a parade back in San Fran, with the expectation that starting pitcher Jake Peavy will buy a trolley to ride in the parade. (He rode a duck boat last year to celebrate the Red Sox's World Series win in their parade.) After the parade, the Giants will prepare for speaking engagements, vacations and an eventual trip to the White House to celebrate their third championship in five years.

In terms of baseball operations, there's a lot of work ahead for GM Brian Sabean, assistant GM Bobby Evans and manager Bruce Bochy. On the top of the their list is trying to retain their key free agents, starting with third baseman Pablo Sandoval, starting pitchers Peavy and Ryan Vogelsong, and setup reliever Sergio Romo. Both Sabean and Evans told me they didn't think they could afford to bring them all back, and Sabean added that the team's payroll will not spike in 2015 despite the World Series win. Evans said it might come down to what players want to return the most and are willing to accept salaries within the team's budget.

Sandoval will be the team's top priority, but it will not be an easy sign after baseball's new Mr. October dominated the postseason once again.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Value of impending FAs Sandoval, Shields 

October, 20, 2014
10/20/14
11:12
AM ET
Pablo SandovalGetty ImagesPablo Sandoval and James Shields are both expected to hit the free-agent market soon.
When the World Series is over between the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants and all the champagne bottles have been popped, the general managers of the respective teams will not be able to enjoy their celebration or wallow in their mourning (in the case of the losing GM) for very long because each of them could be looking at a significant free-agent loss.

In the case of Giants GM Brian Sabean, it's third baseman Pablo Sandoval; for Royals GM Dayton Moore, it's the team's No. 1 starter, James Shields.

Let's look at where things stand right now:


Pablo Sandoval, 3B, age 28

lastname
The Giants have tried to extend Sandoval's contract on several occasions

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Ranking the World Series players, 1-50 

October, 19, 2014
10/19/14
1:10
PM ET
Royals and GiantsGetty ImagesThe Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants both have great roster depth.
With the start of the World Series just two days away, let's take a look at both rosters. Every year someone rises to the occasion and has a profound impact. It could be one of the team's stars, or it could be a role player called upon to do a specific task.

Here is my annual ranking of the 50 World Series players, putting all active players from the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants on one handy list. They are ranked based on their potential positive impact in the World Series only (not on their regular-season performances or their future potential). One final note: Position designations are pretty standard. However, I use RHR and LHR for relievers and RHS and LHS for starting pitchers.

1. Buster Posey, C, Giants
He's won the Rookie of the Year award in 2010 and the NL MVP award in 2012, and this is already his third World Series. He entered the poststeason on a tear, posting a .354/.403/.575 slash line in the second half.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Stability, continuity key to Giants' success 

October, 18, 2014
10/18/14
1:49
PM ET
San Francisco GiantsAP Photo/David TulisManager Bruce Bochy has exemplified loyalty in his leadership of the San Francisco Giants.
The San Francisco Giants hired Brian Sabean as their senior vice president and general manager on Sept. 30, 1996. Since then, he has led the Giants to seven postseason berths and, with this year’s team, four World Series appearances, including two world championships and counting. He is presently the longest-tenured GM in the sport.

One of his best moves was made almost exactly a decade after he took the job -- on Oct. 26, 2006, he hired Bruce Bochy away from the San Diego Padres to be the manager of the Giants. Together they have become this generation's best general manager-manager combination. They have a strong working relationship, but most importantly, are closest of friends both on and off the field.

They represent the stability and continuity that every major league owner strives for.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Ranking the MLB playoff lineups 

October, 1, 2014
10/01/14
11:15
AM ET
Los Angeles DodgersRobert Hanashiro/USA TODAY SportsThe Dodgers scored 21 more runs than any other team in baseball during the month of September.
We ranked the playoff rotations and starting pitchers Monday and the playoff bullpens Tuesday; today we rank -- and discuss -- the lineups of the nine remaining playoff teams.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers
MLB ranks (regular season):
Runs: 6th | OPS: 3rd | HR: 16th | SB: 2nd

Projected lineup
Dee Gordon, 2B
Yasiel Puig, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, RF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Carl Crawford, LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C

The Dodgers enter this postseason with a much better lineup than last year's team, which reached the National League Championship Series before falling to the St. Louis Cardinals.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Ranking the playoff bullpens 

September, 30, 2014
9/30/14
9:52
AM ET
HollandPeter G. Aiken/USA TODAY SportsGreg Holland anchors a Royals bullpen that was sixth in ERA in the second half of this season.
We ranked the playoff rotations and starting pitchers Monday; today we rank -- and discuss -- the bullpens of the 10 playoff teams.

1. Kansas City Royals

Closer: Greg Holland
Setup man: Wade Davis
Situational righties: Kelvin Herrera, Aaron Crow
Situational lefty: Brandon Finnegan

The Royals might not have the deepest bullpen, but they have the best, thanks mostly to a dominant trio of relievers in Herrera, Davis and the league's best closer in Holland, who has converted 46 of 48 save opportunities this year and has the most saves and best conversion rate of any closer in baseball since May 10, 2013.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Playoff starting pitcher, rotation rankings 

September, 29, 2014
9/29/14
12:03
PM ET
Kershaw/GreinkeUSA TODAY SportsZack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw anchor a formidable Dodgers rotation.
The most important element of every major league team in the playoffs is its starting rotation; it's the closest equivalent to a quarterback on an NFL team or the top three players on an NBA team. History has shown us that elite starting pitching has played a greater role in winning championships than any other aspect of a team's infrastructure.

Evaluating starting rotations for the postseason is much different than doing so for the regular season. During the regular season, you concentrate on the team's depth, even the Nos. 6 and 7 spots on the depth chart. In the postseason, you emphasize the top three starters on each team, with little weight given to the fourth starter and no weight to the fifth starter, who's normally in the bullpen. You especially focus on the team's No. 1 starter, who often pitches twice in a five-game series and as many as three times in a seven-game series. You also must factor in how much workload a pitcher has had in the regular season, how they've pitched at the end of the season and any signs of fatigue, something that's not controllable outside of a cortisone shot to lessen the inflammation in a shoulder or elbow.

History shows that pitchers who can miss bats and post higher strikeout rates often perform better in the postseason than contact pitchers. Why is this? Well, these hurlers are facing the game's best lineups, and they need to have the stuff and command to win those battles. Having impeccable command of all pitches in and out of the strike zone is a necessity, because many hitters on playoff teams don't have many weaknesses to exploit.

With that as a preface, here are my rankings of this year's postseason rotations based on scouting, statistical and sabermetric analysis, with specific matchups, workloads, trends and intangibles all factored in:

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Possible pennant race X factors 

September, 5, 2014
9/05/14
3:40
PM ET
    Jarrod DysonAP Photo
    It's coming down to the wire, and every game counts in the pennant race. With several teams still clinging to postseason hopes, even the slightest developments -- an injury, a surprise performance, an emerging rookie -- can make the difference. These X factors can decide whether a team is playing October baseball or going home.

    Here are 14 American and National League players or managers who could be X factors for their teams as they march to the postseason.

    American League

    Kansas City Royals | Jarrod Dyson and Terrance Gore | OFs

    The Royals have the best two-speed weapons in the pennant race. Dyson and Gore, along with the Reds’ Billy Hamilton, are considered two of the fastest players in baseball right now. Dyson, 30, has stolen 33 bases this year and been caught just six times.

    To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

SPONSORED HEADLINES