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Will surgery bring back Posey's power?

MLB.com @mi_guardado

At some point this past season, Buster Posey's power numbers became a topic of conversation for Dodgers personnel gathered in manager Dave Roberts' office. Various staffers were asked to guess how many home runs Posey had hit in 2018, and their answers were fairly uniform.

"Everybody was guessing kind of in the teens," Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said of his former coworkers in Los Angeles. "From the other side, you still viewed him as a threat because he's such a good hitter, and it's such a tough at-bat, especially late in games."

At some point this past season, Buster Posey's power numbers became a topic of conversation for Dodgers personnel gathered in manager Dave Roberts' office. Various staffers were asked to guess how many home runs Posey had hit in 2018, and their answers were fairly uniform.

"Everybody was guessing kind of in the teens," Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said of his former coworkers in Los Angeles. "From the other side, you still viewed him as a threat because he's such a good hitter, and it's such a tough at-bat, especially late in games."

In reality, Posey's power had been diminished by a hip injury that prevented him from incorporating his lower half into his swing and led to surgery in August. He finished the season with five home runs, his fewest since 2011, when he appeared in only 45 games before suffering a season-ending leg injury in a brutal home-plate collision with the Marlins' Scott Cousins.

"It was a surprise," Zaidi said. "Obviously, he wasn't 100 percent. But I kind of mean it as a compliment because that's the perception that you have. He's such a threat that even in a year when he didn't hit a lot of homers, it felt like he was still that kind of guy."

Posey is entering his age-32 season and will be coming off major surgery next year, but Zaidi made it clear at the Winter Meetings last week that he still views him as a franchise player for the Giants.

"I think he's a middle-of-the-order hitter," Zaidi said. "Absolutely."

Video: MIA@SF: Posey opens the scoring with a solo homer

A healthy Posey could be just as impactful as any external acquisition in helping to revitalize the Giants' moribund offense, which finished 29th in the Majors in runs (603), homers (133), slugging percentage (.368) and OPS (.667) in 2018. Even with the hip injury, Posey managed to bat .284 with a .359 on-base percentage, the third-highest mark among MLB catchers with a minimum of 300 plate appearances this year, though his .382 slugging percentage and .741 OPS were career lows.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he's optimistic that Posey will to be able to regain his complete offensive profile next season.

"I think this surgery has all given us, including Buster, a little bit more hope on the hitting side," Bochy said. "Now he's going to be able to fire those hips like he used to. He just wasn't able to do it. As you get older, especially for a catcher, it's hard to say, well, he's going to get back to what he was at 23, 24. But I think they'll get very close to what he normally does with the bat. And that's with the catching part, too, holding up. I think we're going to see a different player, because we're going to see a healthy Posey."

Posey's rehab has been progressing well thus far, and he's expected to be cleared to start running sprints in mid-January. Bochy said it's still too early to say how much catching Posey will be able to handle in 2019, as the Giants will be cautious with his workload during Spring Training and at the beginning of the regular season.

"I can't tell you how much we can catch him," Bochy said. "That's a tough one to answer, but my hope is that he's going to be able to maintain his strength during the course of a season, and not just a season, a game. Last year you could see it catch up with him in the sixth, seventh inning where he wore down. I think he's excited about that."

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.

San Francisco Giants, Buster Posey

Bulk of heavy offseason lifting remains for SF

MLB.com @mi_guardado

LAS VEGAS -- Farhan Zaidi's first Winter Meetings as Giants president of baseball operations concluded with no major splashes, but he departed the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on Thursday feeling optimistic that the talks he had with teams and agents could spur more activity next week.

"I'm not sure we're going to see anything really finalized in the next 24 hours," Zaidi said on Wednesday. "But I could certainly see some of the conversations we're having leading to some moves next week before the holidays."

LAS VEGAS -- Farhan Zaidi's first Winter Meetings as Giants president of baseball operations concluded with no major splashes, but he departed the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on Thursday feeling optimistic that the talks he had with teams and agents could spur more activity next week.

"I'm not sure we're going to see anything really finalized in the next 24 hours," Zaidi said on Wednesday. "But I could certainly see some of the conversations we're having leading to some moves next week before the holidays."

The Giants arrived with only 34 players on their 40-man roster, though they filled three of those vacancies by claiming outfielder Mike Gerber from the Tigers and making a pair of selections during the Rule 5 Draft. But the bulk of the heavy lifting remains for the Giants, who will continue to focus their efforts on addressing deficiencies in their outfield and rotation this offseason.

BIGGEST REMAINING NEEDS
1. Outfield depth: Gerber and Rule 5 Draft pick Drew Ferguson joined Steven Duggar, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater and Chris Shaw in the Giants' outfield mix, but the group is still short on Major League experience and will require more reinforcements. Earlier this week, Zaidi said he hopes to add at least two outfielders and will look for players who can help add punch to the club's anemic offense. The Giants are not expected to make a run at superstar Bryce Harper, but they could target other established free-agent outfielders, such as Michael Brantley or utility man Marwin Gonzalez.

Video: How will the Giants fix their outfield?

2. Rotation help: Aside from Madison Bumgarner, there's a lot of uncertainty revolving around the Giants' projected rotation for 2019. Johnny Cueto is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, Jeff Samardzija is attempting to rebound from shoulder issues and the Giants plan to carefully manage Dereck Rodriguez and Andrew Suarez's workloads following their successful rookie campaigns. The league-wide demand for pitching could make it difficult to land an impactful acquisition, though the Giants are among several teams that have expressed interest in Japanese left-hander Yusei Kikuchi.

Video: Bochy confident in Bumgarner's conditioning

3. Backup catcher: There's a chance that Nick Hundley could re-sign with the Giants, but Zaidi has said he prefers to acquire a backup backstop who can offer more defensive versatility. In Los Angeles, Zaidi had Kyle Farmer and Austin Barnes, both of whom played infield positions in addition to catching. The Giants could carry three catchers to start the season, as Buster Posey will be coming off right hip surgery, and it's unclear if 25-year-old Aramis Garcia will be ready to assume full backup duties.

Video: Bochy gives update on status of Posey's injured hip

RULE 5 DRAFT
The Giants selected left-handed reliever Travis Bergen from the Blue Jays and Ferguson from the Astros in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. In the Minor League phase, the Giants selected third baseman Peter Maris from the Rays and left-hander Sam Moll from the Blue Jays. They lost relievers Ian Gardeck and Dusten Knight as well as outfielder Jeffrey Baez. More >

GM'S BOTTOM LINE
"It's a long offseason, and for us, it's plenty of time to get things looking like what we want to have going into the season. As we've talked about, some of the best moves we made in L.A. were not headline moves at the time. So that's not going to be our objective. It's going to be more really thinking through what we do and making moves that are going to help us both short term and long term." -- Zaidi

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.

San Francisco Giants

Giants select Bergen, Ferguson in Rule 5 Draft

MLB.com @mi_guardado

LAS VEGAS -- Earlier this week, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi joked that the team had enough vacancies on its 40-man roster to "take four or five guys" during the Rule 5 Draft.

The Giants were certainly more active than expected on Thursday, selecting left-handed reliever Travis Bergen from the Blue Jays and outfielder Drew Ferguson from the Astros during the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. Assistant general manager Jeremy Shelley, who has worked for the Giants since 1994, said he couldn't personally recall another instance in which the club made more than one pick during the Rule 5 Draft.

LAS VEGAS -- Earlier this week, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi joked that the team had enough vacancies on its 40-man roster to "take four or five guys" during the Rule 5 Draft.

The Giants were certainly more active than expected on Thursday, selecting left-handed reliever Travis Bergen from the Blue Jays and outfielder Drew Ferguson from the Astros during the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. Assistant general manager Jeremy Shelley, who has worked for the Giants since 1994, said he couldn't personally recall another instance in which the club made more than one pick during the Rule 5 Draft.

"We feel like between the center fielder and the left-handed reliever, you got two premium position-type guys," Shelley said before departing the Winter Meetings. "You're just looking to improve the overall depth of the roster. I think that's the biggest thing. With two picks, I think we accomplished that here in the draft."

Clubs pay $100,000 to select a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. If that player doesn't stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $50,000. Bergen and Ferguson will both be in big league camp during Spring Training and will be given the opportunity to compete for jobs.

Tweet from @MLBPipeline: Curious about the players picked in the Rule 5 Draft? @jimcallisMLB provides scouting reports on all 14 players selected in the @MLB phase: https://t.co/37xiuRkGAR pic.twitter.com/8z7xWM9zHJ

Bergen, 25, was a seventh-round Draft pick of the Blue Jays in 2015 out of Kennesaw State University. He mixes a low- to mid-90s fastball with a curveball and posted an 0.95 ERA over 56 2/3 innings in 43 appearances between Class A Advanced Dunedin and Double-A New Hampshire. Bergen could help give the Giants' bullpen some coverage from the left side if they end up dealing Will Smith or Tony Watson, both of whom have been the subject of trade rumors this week.

"He's a two-pitch guy, swing-and-miss stuff," Shelley said of Bergen. "I think we got a potential bullpen guy from the left side. … He has even splits in his career. He can get both lefties and righties out. He punched out, I want to say, 11.8 per nine. Low walk rate. His fastball, the swing-and-miss [rate] was double the Major League average."

History of the Rule 5 Draft

A 19th-round Draft pick of the Astros in 2015 out of Belmont University, Ferguson is a career .297 hitter with a .393 on-base percentage in the Minors. In 2018, he batted .305 with an .866 OPS and four home runs in 65 games with Triple-A Fresno. The right-handed hitter appeared in nine games in the Arizona Fall League and is now accumulating more reps by playing winter ball in Puerto Rico.

"His plate discipline is very attractive," Shelley said. "His defensive versatility is very attractive. He can play three spots. We're light on outfielders. We'll bring him into camp, let him compete and see how he does. I think he'll be an attractive piece for [manager Bruce Bochy] to evaluate in camp."

Ferguson, 26, was the second outfielder acquired by the Giants this week, as they also claimed Mike Gerber from the Tigers on Monday. They both share two traits that Zaidi has made clear he will value as he works to construct the Giants' roster: defensive versatility and the ability to get on base. The club's outfield mix now includes Steven Duggar, Austin Slater, Mac Williamson, Chris Shaw, Gerber and Ferguson, though Zaidi is hoping to add more experienced options this offseason.

In the Minor League phase of the Rule 5 Draft, the Giants selected third baseman Peter Maris from the Rays and left-hander Sam Moll from the Blue Jays. They also lost relievers Ian Gardeck and Dusten Knight and outfielder Jeffrey Baez.

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.

San Francisco Giants, Travis Bergen, Drew Ferguson, Ian Gardeck, Dusten Knight, Peter Maris, Sam Moll

Bochy open to being 'creative' with roles in '19

Veteran skipper is flexible regarding 'openers' and platoons
MLB.com @mi_guardado

LAS VEGAS -- Echoing the new front office's desire to leave everything on the table, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said on Wednesday that he'll be open to using players in non-traditional roles to get the most out of his roster in 2019.

That includes a willingness to experiment with openers.

LAS VEGAS -- Echoing the new front office's desire to leave everything on the table, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said on Wednesday that he'll be open to using players in non-traditional roles to get the most out of his roster in 2019.

That includes a willingness to experiment with openers.

"I think anytime you could get creative to help win a ballgame, you should do it," Bochy said during his 20-minute session with reporters at the Winter Meetings. "I think it's important that you do stay open-minded. There's been some changes in the game, and of course that's one of them, using an opener. That's going to be driven by your personnel, your roster. You see where you're at, and in your mind if you have to do it to give you a better chance to win a ballgame, I'm all for it."

Giants pitchers aren't the only group that could be deployed differently next season, as president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said on Tuesday he's also considering platooning certain position players to create more favorable matchups. Bochy acknowledged that he'll likely have to have conversations with some of his veteran players about their potentially evolving roles.

Video: Bochy on being creative, using opening pitcher

"You've got to sit down with the players, say, 'Listen, we're going to probably do things a little bit different sometimes,'" Bochy said. "Roles won't quite be as defined, possibly. But that's always been the case in baseball. It's probably a little more common today, especially when you're trying to get more versatility, more flexibility on your roster. You want them to have a heads up, not be surprised by anything. And also just remind them that the best way to get where we want to go is to have an unselfish attitude. Just do whatever you think or what we think is the best way to win a ballgame, and got to get them to buy into this."

Still, Zaidi has made it clear that whatever strategies the Giants choose to pursue will ultimately depend on the composition of their roster in 2019. It's still too early to predict what type of talent the club will have at its disposal come Opening Day, but Bochy is certain he won't be using openers on days Madison Bumgarner is lined up to pitch.

While Bochy's old-school style stands in contrast to Zaidi's analytical background, the skipper said their interactions have been positive so far.

"We all know he's very, very bright," Bochy said. "He's got new ideas, he's very creative, very into analytics. But he has deep respect for people in baseball on the scouting side, development side. He's a listener. He's the man in charge, but he wants to hear what you have to say and he respects that. And so I think he keeps a balance, and it's not his way or the highway."

Video: Bochy gives update on status of Posey's injured hip

Posey update
Bochy revealed that catcher Buster Posey had a microfracture in his right hip that was surgically repaired along with the torn labrum and impingement in August. Posey's rehab is progressing as expected, and Bochy said he's optimistic the 31-year-old backstop will be able to regain some of the power that was zapped by the injury in 2018.

"I think we're going to see a different player, because we're going to see a healthy Posey," Bochy said. "If you're a catcher and you've got a bad hip, the game is hard enough to play. And he had a micro fracture there, too, and we didn't know that until he went in there. It was a little worse than we thought."

Zaidi meets with Boras
Zaidi met with agent Scott Boras for nearly two hours at the Four Seasons Hotel on Tuesday night. The trip itself proved eventful, as he accidentally knocked on the wrong hotel door before realizing his mistake.

"Rather than standing there and apologizing, I just made a run for it," Zaidi said.

Video: Bochy on Giants' eyeing offseason additions

Boras represents several free agents who could be of interest to the Giants, including outfielder Bryce Harper, super utility man Marwin Gonzalez, along with left-handers Dallas Keuchel and Yusei Kikuchi. Boras said on Wednesday that Kikuchi's signing isn't imminent, as he is planning to meet with interested teams in Los Angeles later this month. The Giants, who are in need of rotation help and have extensively scouted Kikuchi, will likely be among the clubs in attendance.

"The market for Kikuchi is vast," Boras said. "Whether you're a developmental club, a club that's a playoff team or getting there, all have expressed interest in him."

Kikuchi, who was posted by the Seibu Lions of Nippon Professional Baseball earlier this month, has until Jan. 2 to sign a deal with a Major League club.

Though Zaidi said he feels talks are progressing on various fronts, he did not sound confident about completing any kind of transaction before the Winter Meetings end on Thursday.

"I'm not sure we're going to see anything really finalized in the next 24 hours," Zaidi said. "But I could certainly see some of the conversations we're having leading to some moves next week before the holidays."

Rule 5 Draft preview
With only 35 spots filled on their 40-man roster, the Giants will have the opportunity to be active during the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday.

"We'll certainly have the ability to take four or five guys," Zaidi joked.

Clubs pay $100,000 to select a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. If that player doesn't stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $50,000.

"As of now, I could see us taking somebody," Zaidi said. "We haven't had our specific meetings about it, but we have enough roles on the roster that we're looking to fill. We certainly like some of the players that are potentially going to be available."

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.

San Francisco Giants

Giants considering unconventional pitching

MLB.com @mi_guardado

LAS VEGAS -- The Giants could soon join the growing wave of teams embracing openers.

President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said Tuesday that the Giants are mulling various alternative pitching strategies to deploy next season, one of which is the opener trend popularized by the Rays and A's in 2018. The concept calls for a relief pitcher to start the game and pitch one or two innings before giving way to a more traditional starting pitcher who navigates the next five or six innings.

LAS VEGAS -- The Giants could soon join the growing wave of teams embracing openers.

President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said Tuesday that the Giants are mulling various alternative pitching strategies to deploy next season, one of which is the opener trend popularized by the Rays and A's in 2018. The concept calls for a relief pitcher to start the game and pitch one or two innings before giving way to a more traditional starting pitcher who navigates the next five or six innings.

"As we look at our pitching staff, I think we have to think a little because of the uncertainty we have from a health standpoint," Zaidi said. "We're going to have to explore different forms of pitching staff construction, whether that's using openers or whether that's having kind of tandem days where you have two pitchers each throwing three or four innings and taking down the majority of the game. I think we're going to have to develop a plan for the pitching staff that fits the personnel that we have.

"We don't have five guys that we can expect 34 starts and 200 innings from. Very few teams have that. Thinking about some of these as an alternative to get through 27 outs every day, I think it's going to be a topic of discussion for us."

Video: Cash discusses increasing use of openers in baseball

Aside from Madison Bumgarner, the Giants have plenty of questions marks surrounding their rotation. Johnny Cueto is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and is expected to miss the bulk, if not all, of the 2019 campaign. Jeff Samardzija will be attempting to rebound from a nagging shoulder injury. Dereck Rodriguez and Andrew Suarez enjoyed tremendous rookie campaigns, but Zaidi said they could potentially begin the season in the bullpen or in the Minors as a way to keep their innings in check next year.

While Zaidi would like to add to his rotation depth this offseason, he said he isn't as confident about making acquisitions on that front due to the higher demand for pitching around the league. The Giants' bullpen, on the other hand, is quite deep, which would allow them to optimize matchups and take some of the pressure off the rotation next year.

Asked if he's spoken with manager Bruce Bochy about implementing the opener strategy, Zaidi said, "At the end of the day, I think everybody would take a win using less conventional methods than lose trying to overly extend a starter who isn't equipped or best fit to make that 110-plus-pitch outing."

Zaidi cautioned that nothing is set in stone yet, as he will continue to have conversations with Bochy and pitching coach Curt Young about the best ways to maximize the pitching staff's effectiveness moving forward.

"I think we're a long ways away from putting something like this into action," Zaidi said. "I think we'd be doing ourselves a disservice if we don't think about different ways of deploying these guys."

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.

San Francisco Giants

Clubs showing interest in Giants relievers

MLB.com @mi_guardado

LAS VEGAS -- Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi on Monday identified the bullpen as an area of surplus, which he said played into the club's decision to non-tender right-hander Hunter Strickland last month. He could now look to flip some of those assets to fill needs in the outfield and in the rotation.

Zaidi confirmed Tuesday that he's received a "high level of interest" in the club's relievers while engaging in trade conversations with other teams.

LAS VEGAS -- Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi on Monday identified the bullpen as an area of surplus, which he said played into the club's decision to non-tender right-hander Hunter Strickland last month. He could now look to flip some of those assets to fill needs in the outfield and in the rotation.

Zaidi confirmed Tuesday that he's received a "high level of interest" in the club's relievers while engaging in trade conversations with other teams.

Latest Hot Stove rumors

The Cardinals are reportedly among several teams who have inquired about Giants closer Will Smith. Fellow left-hander Tony Watson is also said to be of interest to St. Louis, though to a lesser degree than Smith.

"We've gotten a lot of calls on guys in our bullpen, both veteran guys and even some of the younger guys," Zaidi said. "That's an area of strength for the team. If we keep this group intact, I think it's going to be one of the best groups in the National League. If it makes sense for us to move somebody to fill needs on the position-player side or in the rotation, I think we're still going to go into next year with a pretty good core."

The Cardinals make sense as a possible trade partner for the Giants because they possess an intriguing trade chip in outfielder/first baseman Jose Martinez, who became expendable following St. Louis' acquisition of Paul Goldschmidt. Martinez, 30, has established himself as an elite right-handed bat over the last two seasons, batting a combined .306 with an .847 OPS and 31 home runs in 258 games for the Cardinals. He won't be arbitration-eligible until 2020 and won't hit free agency until after the 2022 season, making him an inexpensive option for teams in search of offensive help.

Though Martinez offers the type of positional flexibility that Zaidi covets, he is also a defensive liability, ranking as one of the worst right fielders in the Majors in defensive runs saved while also rating poorly at first base. The Giants have tended to favor players who can handle the spacious outfield at AT&T Park, but Zaidi said he'd be amenable to acquiring a bat-first outfielder this offseason, particularly given the offensive woes the team experienced in 2018.

"We've got to be open-minded because at the end of the day, we want the guys that are the best and most productive players in totality," Zaidi said. "If you're a double-plus offensive player and you're giving back a little defensively, that would still be an upgrade for our current outfield group. I think we've got to assess those guys, not against some ultimate ideal, but against whether they're an incremental improvement to what we have."

Prying Smith or Watson away from the Giants could be difficult, as the pair emerged as the club's most reliable back-end relievers this past season.

Smith, 29, enjoyed a successful return from Tommy John surgery in 2018, posting a 2.55 ERA over 53 innings while converting 14 saves. He is projected by MLBTradeRumors.com to earn $4.1 million next year in his final season before free agency.

Watson, 33, recorded a 2.59 ERA over 66 innings in the first season of the two-year, incentive-laden deal he signed with the Giants in February. He also has a player option for the 2020 season.

"We're going to have to feel good about the return to trade one of those guys, especially the guys that were big contributors for us last year," Zaidi said.

Cutch lands in Philly

Former Giants outfielder Andrew McCutchen has agreed to a three-year, $50 million deal with the Phillies, according to multiple reports, closing the door on a potential return to San Francisco. Acquired from the Pirates last offseason, McCutchen crushed 15 home runs for the Giants before being traded to the Yankees in exchange for infielder Abiatal Avelino and right-hander Juan De Paula in August.

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.

San Francisco Giants, Will Smith, Tony Watson

Giants not done adding to outfield corps

MLB.com @mi_guardado

LAS VEGAS -- President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi's first move of the Winter Meetings yielded the Giants a young outfielder, and Zaidi will continue to be active in that market as he seeks to further bolster the club's outfield depth this offseason.

Zaidi said he expects to add at least two more outfielders this winter to help fortify an unproven group that currently includes Steven Duggar, Mac Williamson, Chris Shaw, Austin Slater and Mike Gerber, who was claimed off waivers from the Tigers on Monday.

LAS VEGAS -- President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi's first move of the Winter Meetings yielded the Giants a young outfielder, and Zaidi will continue to be active in that market as he seeks to further bolster the club's outfield depth this offseason.

Zaidi said he expects to add at least two more outfielders this winter to help fortify an unproven group that currently includes Steven Duggar, Mac Williamson, Chris Shaw, Austin Slater and Mike Gerber, who was claimed off waivers from the Tigers on Monday.

"I'd say it's a high priority," Zaidi said Monday. "It's a pretty inexperienced group, and I do expect that by Opening Day, we'll have at least a couple of additions there."

Latest Hot Stove rumors

Zaidi said most of his talks have been preliminary thus far, as he believes the market has been slowed by the slew of front office and coaching changes around baseball this offseason.

"We're still assessing trade options and free-agent options," Zaidi said. "Particularly on the free-agent side, I would expect some of those options to even go into the next calendar year. The outfield is a good market to be good buyers in. There are always good options in free agency, and especially for us as a team looking to improve offensively, having openings in the outfield are good spots to try to add offense."

The free-agent market will be headlined by Bryce Harper, though Zaidi said he has not yet met with his agent, Scott Boras. The two sides will almost certainly sit down at some point this week, as Zaidi said he plans to meet with all the major agencies. Boras also represents Japanese left-hander Yusei Kikuchi, another potential free-agent target for the Giants.

Among the Giants' internal outfield options, Duggar has the best chance of earning a starting job in center field next year. While Zaidi said he views Duggar as an everyday player over the long term, he didn't rule out the possibility of finding a platoon partner for him as he works his way back from shoulder surgery.

"Between those three guys [Duggar, Williamson and Shaw], the Major League production wasn't there, but they're all kind of highly regarded prospects," Zaidi said. "They all have strong Minor League track records, and whether they're Opening Day guys or wind up being depth and get opportunities later in the season, there's still confidence that they can be contributors at the Major League level."

Injury updates

• Zaidi said Buster Posey's rehab from hip surgery is going well, though he acknowledged that the Giants could look to lighten his workload behind the plate during Spring Training and at the outset of the regular season. The Giants remain in the market for a backup catcher to help ease Posey's return from injury.

• Right-hander Jeff Samardzija has begun a throwing program, but Zaidi said it's too early to tell whether he's past the shoulder issue that limited him to just 10 starts in 2018.

"Until they really start doing more intense baseball activity, you can't totally consider anybody over the hump," Zaidi said.

Worth noting

The Giants made a trio of front-office hires official Monday. Former Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi has joined Zaidi's staff as a special advisor, while Zack Minasian and Michael Holmes will serve as pro scouting director and amateur scouting director, respectively.

Zaidi added that former amateur scouting director John Barr and vice president of player personnel Dick Tidrow will remain with the organization.

"I'm looking forward to them continuing to be actively involved in the front office and with the moves this offseason," Zaidi said. "It's been great to have the take of the guys that have been here for many years and also have some fresh perspective from the new guys we brought in."

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.

San Francisco Giants, Steven Duggar

Giants claim outfielder Gerber off waivers

MLB.com @mi_guardado

LAS VEGAS -- President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi opened the Winter Meetings by making his first addition to the Giants' 40-man roster, claiming outfielder Mike Gerber off waivers from the Tigers on Monday.

Gerber, 26, debuted with the Tigers in April and went 4-for-42 (.095) with 21 strikeouts in 18 Major League games this past season. He spent the bulk of the 2018 campaign with Triple-A Toledo, batting .213 with a .688 OPS and 13 home runs in 74 games. Still, those numbers might not be completely indicative of Gerber's offensive upside, as he hit .279 with an .814 OPS over five Minor League seasons with Detroit.

LAS VEGAS -- President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi opened the Winter Meetings by making his first addition to the Giants' 40-man roster, claiming outfielder Mike Gerber off waivers from the Tigers on Monday.

Gerber, 26, debuted with the Tigers in April and went 4-for-42 (.095) with 21 strikeouts in 18 Major League games this past season. He spent the bulk of the 2018 campaign with Triple-A Toledo, batting .213 with a .688 OPS and 13 home runs in 74 games. Still, those numbers might not be completely indicative of Gerber's offensive upside, as he hit .279 with an .814 OPS over five Minor League seasons with Detroit.

"Gerber is a guy who had very strong seasons in the Minor Leagues in 2016 and '17," Zaidi said. "He took a little bit of a step back in '18, but we like the skill set. He's a versatile player, which is the kind of thing we're look for."

Tweet from @Gerbs13: Thank you to the @tigers for the past 4 years. I���m honored to have started my major league career with such a storied franchise. I can���t wait to see what the future holds with the @SFGiants !

A left-handed hitter, Gerber can play all three outfield spots and will help restore some of the depth at center field that was lost following the departure of Gorkys Hernandez. In 2016, Gerber captured a Minor League Gold Glove for his defensive work in right field. He was a 15th-round Draft pick of the Tigers in '14 out of Creighton University, where he played alongside reliever Ty Blach.

Gerber becomes the fifth outfielder on the Giants' 40-man roster, joining Steven Duggar, Chris Shaw, Austin Slater and Mac Williamson. San Francisco's 40-man roster now stands at 35.

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.

San Francisco Giants, Mike Gerber

Adon makes AFL's Top Prospects team

MLB.com @wboor

Braxton Davidson's dramatic walk-off homer in the 10th inning back on Nov. 17th lifted the Peoria Javelinas to back-to-back Arizona Fall League titles and signified the end of the AFL season.

However, here at MLB Pipeline, coverage of the AFL is constant. Following the on-the-field play, we have released our top 10 breakout prospects, the top 25 prospects of the AFL and our All-Arizona Fall League Team.

Braxton Davidson's dramatic walk-off homer in the 10th inning back on Nov. 17th lifted the Peoria Javelinas to back-to-back Arizona Fall League titles and signified the end of the AFL season.

However, here at MLB Pipeline, coverage of the AFL is constant. Following the on-the-field play, we have released our top 10 breakout prospects, the top 25 prospects of the AFL and our All-Arizona Fall League Team.

Of course, there's always room for more accolades and that's just what we have below as the Arizona Fall League announced its 2018 Top Prospects team on Monday morning.

The team, selected by league managers and coaches, recognizes players who distinguished themselves against other top prospects throughout the AFL. Voters were asked to consider not only a player's AFL performance, but also their Major League projectability.

Catchers

Daulton Varsho, D-backs No. 5 prospect: Varsho, who put together four multihit efforts over a five-game span, hit .262 and drove in nine runs in 18 games.

Keibert Ruiz, Dodgers No. 2 prospect (No. 39 on Top 100): Ruiz played in just 13 games, but left a strong impression on the league's managers and coaches. The 20-year-old hit .286 with six RBIs and also drew six walks while striking out just twice.

Video: Top Prospects: Keibert Ruiz, C, Dodgers

First Base

Tyler Nevin, Rockies No. 11 prospect: Nevin hit a career-best .328 over 100 games during the regular season and carried that momentum with him into Arizona. Nevin got off to a fast start in the AFL, opening play with a 10-game hitting streak. From there, it was more of the same. The 21-year-old was the AFL's only .400 hitter and ran away with the batting title, slashing .426/.535/.593 and also finished third in the league with 20 RBIs.

Video: SRR@PEJ: Nevin recovers nicely to end the 3rd

Evan White, Mariners No. 5 prospectWhite, who collected 14 RBIs over 18 games, hit .257 with a pair of homers in the AFL. White put together a nine-game hitting streak from late October to early November and also stole two bases after stealing just four during the regular season.

Second Base:

Keston Hiura, Brewers No. 1 prospect (No. 30 on the Top 100): Hiura's ability to hit was no secret -- something his 70-grade hit tool clearly indicated. However, just because it was known that Hiura can hit doesn't mean that watching him do so was any less impressive. The Brewers top prospect went to Arizona to work on his defense and while he made strides in that department, it was his offense that led to him MVP honors. Hiura, who hit .323, led the league in hits (31), RBIs (33) and total bases (54). He also hit the only grand slam of the AFL, put together 11 multihit games and turned in two five-RBI performances.

Jahmai Jones, Angels No. 4 prospect: Jones, coming off a season during which he hit just .239 over 123 games, hit .321 with two homers and 11 RBI in 19 AFL contests.

Third Base:

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays No. 1 prospect (No. 1 on Top 100): Guerrero entered the AFL as the most talked-about prospect and certainly didn't disappoint. Guerrero picked up a trio of hits on Opening Day and kept the hits coming as he began the season with a 13-game hitting streak. The 19-year-old also impressed on the league's biggest stage, hitting a 117 mph double in the Fall Stars Game and concluded his stint in Arizona with a .351 batting average.

Video: Chisholm on Vlad Jr.'s Fall League performance

Yu Chang, Indians No. 6 prospect: Chang, who also played in the 2017 Fall League, put together a strong offensive showing. The shortstop hit .337, thanks in large part to a stretch where he strung together eight multihit efforts over 12 games. Chang also finished tied for third in total bases (45) and fourth in hits (29).

Shortstops:

Cole Tucker, Pirates No. 5 prospect: Tucker's .370 average certainly jumps off the page, but the 22-year-old impressed defensively as well. Tucker's 11 multihit games tied for the league lead (Hiura) and his 30 hits left him tied for second. Tucker also impressed off the field, reguarily staying after the game to take photos and sign autographs and was honored with the league's sportsmanship award.

Video: Cole Tucker talks about his Fall League experience

 Lucius Fox, Rays No. 9 prospect: Fox, who hit .326 over 21 games, put together an eight-game hitting streak in mid-October and tied for second in the league with 10 multihit games. Fox also drew 16 walks and stole seven bases.

Outfielders:

Luis Robert, White Sox No. 4 prospect (No. 44 on Top 100): Robert missed a little bit of time with a minor injury during the AFL, but still hit .324 over 18 games. The winner of the week five Player of the Week Award, Robert put up a 14-game hitting streak from Oc. 9 to Nov. 9. The hitting streak was the longest in the AFL since 2014.

Cristian Pache, Braves No. 6 prospect (No. 68 on the Top 100): Pache hit .279 and turned in four straight multihit games in late October, but the 20-year-old may have been even more impressive defensively. Pache showed off his 60-grade arm and his 70-grade speed on numerous occasions in the outfield and also used that speed to steal three bases.

Ryan McKenna, Orioles No. 12 prospect: McKenna hit .315/.410/.457 over 127 games during the regular season, his best season since the Orioles picked him in the fourth-round of the 2015 Draft, and continued the breakout campaign in Arizona, where he hit .344/.474/.590.

Sam Hilliard, Rockies No. 9 prospectHilliard played in just 16 games, but the small sample size didn't keep him from producing. Hilliard had multiple hits in nearly half (seven) of the games he played and finished with two homers and a .328 average.

Daz Cameron, Tigers No. 8 prospectCameron stole 24 bases in the regular season and then swiped nine bases, which tied him for fourth, during the AFL. The son of former Major Leaguer Mike Cameron hit .342 over 20 games.

Nick Heath, Royals: Heath posted a .427 on-base percentage and once he got on base, he made the most of the opportunities. The Royals prospect led the AFL in stolen bases (13) and runs scored (21), while batting .338 over 21 games.

Designated Hitters:

Peter Alonso, Mets No. 2 prospect (No. 58 on the Top 100): Alonso tied for the Minor League home run lead with 36 during the regular season and then tied for the AFL lead with six. In addition to his six homers, Alonso also hit seven doubles and often showed off his power with eye-popping exit velocities.

Video: EAST@WEST: Alonso lays out for impressive diving stop

Will Craig, Pirates No. 16 prospectCraig tied with Alonso and Davidson for the home run title, while also hitting .304 over 21 games.

Starting Pitchers

Nate Pearson, Blue Jays No. 4 prospect (No. 90 on the Top 100): Pearson racked up 23 strikeouts in 20 1/3 innings and although his ERA sat at 6.20, he did spin three scoreless outings. What's more, Pearson garnered plenty of attention during the Fall Stars Game when his fastball was clocked at 104 mph.

Video: EAST@WEST: Pearson flashes 101 mph+ with regularity

Erick Leal, Cubs: Leal nearly finished the AFL with a perfect 0.00 ERA, but gave up seven runs (six earned) in his final start. The right-hander began the AFL with a 19 1/3-inning scoreless streak and finished 2-1 with a 2.66 ERA over six starts.

Relief Pitchers:

Melvin Adon, Giants No. 19 prospect: Adon, a hard-throwing right-hander, was consistently missing bats out in Arizona. Adon notched 21 strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings and limited opponents to a .163 batting average against. He was particuarily tough on right-handers as they managed to hit just .091 against him.

Justin Lawrence, Rockies No. 16 prospect: Lawrence tied for the AFL lead with three saves and used a nasty fastball-slider combo to strike out 13 batters in 10 2/3 innings.

William Boor is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.

Giants make 2 scouting department changes

MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SAN FRANCISCO -- Farhan Zaidi, the Giants' new president of baseball operations, continued to make his presence felt by appointing a pair of key figures to the ballclub's scouting staff on Saturday.

Zack Minasian, previously a Brewers special advisor in their scouting department, will become San Francisco's director of pro scouting. Meanwhile, A's assistant scouting director Michael Holmes, who worked with Zaidi in Oakland, becomes the Giants' director of amateur scouting. The hirings were initially reported by The Athletic.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Farhan Zaidi, the Giants' new president of baseball operations, continued to make his presence felt by appointing a pair of key figures to the ballclub's scouting staff on Saturday.

Zack Minasian, previously a Brewers special advisor in their scouting department, will become San Francisco's director of pro scouting. Meanwhile, A's assistant scouting director Michael Holmes, who worked with Zaidi in Oakland, becomes the Giants' director of amateur scouting. The hirings were initially reported by The Athletic.

It is unknown if John Barr, the Giants' previous scouting director, will be retained in a different capacity.

Barr spent 11 years with the Giants and was in charge of the Drafts that brought catcher Buster Posey, shortstop Brandon Crawford, first baseman Brandon Belt and second baseman Joe Panik to San Francisco. The Giants hope that prospects such as catcher Joey Bart, the club's No. 1 prospect, and outfielder Heliot Ramos (No. 2) can lengthen Barr's list of Draft successes.

Zaidi will be among the most-watched executives at this week's Winter Meetings as he tries to revive a ballclub that has struggled for the past two-and-a-half seasons. It's uncertain whether he will attempt to hire a general manager who would serve as his immediate assistant. The club hasn't replaced former farm director David Bell, who filled the Reds' managerial vacancy.

Chris Haft has covered the Major Leagues since 1991 and has worked for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat.

San Francisco Giants

Former Giant Al Gallagher dies at age 73

MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SAN FRANCISCO -- Alan Gallagher, who created an instant sensation among Giants fans for his San Francisco heritage and his uninhibited playing style, died Thursday. He was 73.

News of Gallagher's death appeared initially on the website of the Kansas City (Kan.) T-Bones, a member of the indepedent Northern League that was one of several ballclubs he managed.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Alan Gallagher, who created an instant sensation among Giants fans for his San Francisco heritage and his uninhibited playing style, died Thursday. He was 73.

News of Gallagher's death appeared initially on the website of the Kansas City (Kan.) T-Bones, a member of the indepedent Northern League that was one of several ballclubs he managed.

Tweet from @SFGiants: Former #SFGiants third baseman "Dirty Al" Gallagher has passed away. Drafted in 1965 out of Santa Clara, Gallagher was the first native San Franciscan to play for the Giants in SF. [via @JohnSheaHey]https://t.co/TMBYMYvlSp#ForeverGiant pic.twitter.com/PBRm3cbn8K

A graduate of Mission High School, Gallagher was the first native San Franciscan to play for the Giants following the franchise's 1958 move west from New York. The right-handed-hitting third baseman also was the club's first-ever Draft choice, selected 14th overall out of Santa Clara University in 1965, the Draft's inaugural year.

With Jim Davenport moving toward retirement and Jim Ray Hart hampered by injuries, Gallagher made the Giants' Opening Day lineup in 1970 and batted .500 (15-for-30) in his first seven games. Gallagher was quickly nicknamed "Dirty Al," owing to his willingness to dive for an extra base or a ground ball.

Gallagher hit .266 in 109 games in 1970 and made the Topps All-Rookie team. But his distinction as a San Franciscan was a mixed blessing.

"When I got to San Francisco, the only thing I ever heard was native born San Franciscan, native born San Franciscan, native born San Franciscan," Gallagher said in Mike Mandel's 1979 book SF Giants: An Oral History. "... I always felt that if I could get away from the pressures of being the hometown boy and go somewhere, I could gain that power ... and play the kind of defense that I sometimes could."

In 1971, Gallagher batted .427 in August to help the Giants win the National League West. He batted a career-high .277 that year. But the Giants wanted more power at third base and replaced Gallagher with Dave Kingman. San Francisco traded Gallagher to the Angels for infielder Bruce Miller early in the 1973 season. Gallagher batted .273 in 110 games for the Angels and never played in the Majors after that, finishing with a lifetime .263 average in 442 games.

Following his playing career, Gallagher managed extensively throughout independent leagues and in the Minor League systems of the Braves, Indians and Angels.

Chris Haft has covered the Major Leagues since 1991 and has worked for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat.

San Francisco Giants