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With groundwork laid, Giants turn to Meetings

@mi_guardado
December 6, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants have spent the bulk of the offseason so far assembling the brain trust they hope will steer the club back into contention following three consecutive losing seasons. With new general manager Scott Harris and manager Gabe Kapler now in place, the focus will increasingly turn

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants have spent the bulk of the offseason so far assembling the brain trust they hope will steer the club back into contention following three consecutive losing seasons.

With new general manager Scott Harris and manager Gabe Kapler now in place, the focus will increasingly turn toward improving the roster for 2020 and beyond. That goal will likely be facilitated by the start of the Winter Meetings, which will run Monday to Thursday in San Diego.

And while San Francisco has avoided using the term “rebuild” to describe the state of the organization, it’s clear president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi is building more toward the future than the present, a reality underscored by the decision to non-tender popular center fielder Kevin Pillar on Monday.

5 non-tendered players Giants could pursue

Here’s a look at where the Giants stand as Zaidi and the rest of the front office head south:

Club needs: San Francisco will likely be in the market for pitching, on both the starting and relieving side. Madison Bumgarner is a free agent and would leave a significant hole in the rotation if he departs this winter. If a deal can’t be struck, the Giants will likely look for alternatives to fill out their rotation and take some of the pressure off their younger starters, like Tyler Beede, Logan Webb, Dereck Rodríguez and Shaun Anderson.

All-Star closer Will Smith is gone after signing a three-year, $40 million deal with the Braves, so the Giants will also need reinforcements for the back end of their bullpen. With Pillar no longer in the fold, the Giants are considering moving Mike Yastrzemski to center field to create an opening for a power-hitting corner outfielder. They’ll also be looking for catching help after losing Stephen Vogt to the D-backs.

Whom might they trade? The Giants don’t have a lot of obvious trade candidates on their current roster, though Jeff Samardzija could draw interest after putting together an impressive bounceback season in 2019. He’s entering the final year of his contract and is owed $19.8 million in 2020, though the Giants might not be so keen on moving him now given their lack of veteran pitching depth. Brandon Belt might benefit from moving to a more hitter-friendly ballpark, but he’s owed $17.2 million in each of the next two seasons and has a partial no-trade clause that would likely restrict his trade market.

Prospects to know: Top prospect Joey Bart is viewed as Buster Posey’s heir apparent and could make a quick rise to the Majors after reaching Double-A Richmond in 2019. Fellow first-round Draft pick Heliot Ramos might not be too far behind and could be the Giants’ long-term answer in center field. Sean Hjelle, a 6-foot-11 right-hander, could also emerge as a rotation option in 2020 after making the jump from Class A Augusta to Double-A this past season.

Giants Top 30 prospects

Rule 5 Draft: The Giants currently have 37 players on their 40-man roster, so they’ll have room to make additions during the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. San Francisco made two picks during the Major League portion last year, selecting left-hander Travis Bergen from the Blue Jays and Drew Ferguson from the Astros, though neither remains in the organization.

Payroll summary: After reaching agreements with all four of their arbitration-eligible players, the Giants have approximately $115 million committed to 11 players for 2020. The competitive balance tax threshold for next season will be $208 million, so the organization should have plenty of financial flexibility to pursue whatever roster upgrades it wants this offseason.

One question: Will the Giants make a serious bid to re-sign Bumgarner?

Bumgarner is believed to be seeking a long-term deal similar to the five-year, $118 million contract Zack Wheeler received from the Phillies. Bumgarner’s market has reportedly begun to heat up, with the Cardinals, Twins, Reds, White Sox and Braves among the teams who have been linked to the 30-year-old left-hander. But there haven’t been any indications that the Giants remain seriously involved in the bidding

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