Revisiting SF's top 5 Winter Meetings deals

December 7th, 2020

The Winter Meetings will be held virtually this year, but that shouldn’t diminish the potential for buzzworthy trades and free-agent signings as Hot Stove activity begins to pick up this week. With that in mind, let’s take a look back at five memorable Winter Meetings transactions involving the Giants:

1) Dec. 8, 1992: signs
The Giants arrived at the 1992 Winter Meetings in Louisville, Ky., looking to make a splash after a new ownership group, led by Peter Magowan, managed to save the team from relocating to Florida. Magowan immediately ushered in a new era for the franchise by signing superstar slugger Bonds to a six-year, $43.75 million deal, then the richest contract in baseball.

“It’s a lot of money, but there’s only one Barry Bonds,” Magowan said during the introductory press conference.

The move represented a homecoming for Bonds, whose father, Bobby, and godfather, Willie Mays, both played for the Giants. Bonds went on to carve out his own legacy in San Francisco, where he hit 586 homers over 15 seasons en route to becoming baseball’s all-time home run leader.

2) Dec. 11, 1991: Kevin Mitchell dealt in blockbuster trade with Mariners
SF acquired: RHP Bill Swift, RHP Mike Jackson, RHP Dave Burba
SEA acquired: OF Mitchell, LHP Mike Remlinger

Former Giants general manager Al Rosen originally acquired Mitchell as part of a seven-player deal with the Padres in 1987 and watched the slugger blossom into the National League Most Valuable Player Award winner two years later. Mitchell crushed 27 home runs for the Giants in '91, but he appeared in only 113 games that season as he began to struggle with injuries and weight issues. Rosen decided it was time to move on, so he traded the 29-year-old Mitchell and Remlinger to Seattle at the '91 Winter Meetings in Miami Beach, Fla.

“I saw production going down. I saw age and weight going up,” Rosen said bluntly.

Mitchell went on to play for five teams over the next seven years, and he didn’t appear in more than 100 games in a single season for the rest of his career. Swift and Jackson, meanwhile, instantly shored up the Giants’ pitching staff, with Burba developing into a solid contributor as well.

3) Dec. 7, 2011: acquired from Mets
SF acquired: OF Pagán
NYM acquired: OF Andres Torres, RHP Ramon E. Ramirez

The Giants and Mets agreed to swap center fielders who were coming off disappointing seasons during the 2011 Winter Meetings in Dallas, Texas. The deal ultimately bore fruit for San Francisco, as Pagán took over the leadoff spot and helped the Giants win the '12 World Series after batting .288 with eight home runs, 15 triples and 29 stolen bases. He ended up re-signing with San Francisco on a four-year, $40 million deal at the '12 Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., and won a second ring with the club in '14. Torres, a defensive whiz who served as the starting center fielder for the '10 championship team, spent one year with the Mets before returning to San Francisco for the final season of his career in '13.

4) Dec. 5, 2016: signs
The Giants were in desperate need of a closer after blowing a franchise-record 30 saves in 2016, and they appeared to solve their bullpen woes by signing Melancon to a four-year, $62 million deal at the '16 Winter Meetings in National Harbor, Md., the largest contract for a relief pitcher at the time.

A three-time All-Star, Melancon logged a 1.64 ERA with 47 saves for the Pirates and Nationals in 2016, but he struggled to sustain that dominance after dealing with arm injuries in San Francisco. He recorded only 15 saves for the Giants over parts of three seasons before agreeing to waive his no-trade clause to join the Braves at the '19 Trade Deadline. The return for the Giants was right-hander Tristan Beck, who is now ranked the club’s No. 19 prospect by MLB Pipeline.

5) Dec. 10, 2019: , first-round pick acquired from Angels
SF acquired: INF Cozart, INF Wilson
LAA acquired: LHP Garrett Williams

Farhan Zaidi has yet to make a blockbuster trade at the Winter Meetings since taking over as the Giants’ president of baseball operations, but last year’s deal with the Angels in San Diego stood out for its creativity. Cozart appeared in only 38 games in 2019 after undergoing left shoulder surgery, but San Francisco agreed to take on the remaining $12.167 million on his contract to essentially “buy” Wilson, the 15th overall selection of the '19 MLB Draft. Cozart was released the following month, but Wilson is now ranked the Giants’ No. 11 prospect and impressed during his stint at the club’s alternate training site this summer.