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Bumgarner, Giants set to talk at Winter Meetings

@mi_guardado
December 9, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- The Giants were relatively quiet at last year’s Winter Meetings, saving their biggest splash for the Rule 5 Draft, when they selected two players during the Major League phase for the first time in recent history. But with a free-agent market that has been moving at a

SAN DIEGO -- The Giants were relatively quiet at last year’s Winter Meetings, saving their biggest splash for the Rule 5 Draft, when they selected two players during the Major League phase for the first time in recent history.

But with a free-agent market that has been moving at a swifter pace than the previous two years, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi believes the 2019 iteration will be a little more productive.

“With the flexibility that we have right now and the pace of the market, I would expect us to be more active than last year,” Zaidi said Monday on Day 1 of the Winter Meetings at the Manchester Grand Hyatt.

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Among the items on the agenda for Zaidi and general manager Scott Harris will be an in-person meeting with the representatives for Madison Bumgarner, whose market appears to be taking shape following the hefty deals for fellow free-agent starters Zack Wheeler ($118 million over five years) and Stephen Strasburg ($245 million over seven years).

“We're in contact with his representatives and expect to meet with them here,” Zaidi said. “It's not really appropriate to comment beyond that. But we are in touch with them.”

Bumgarner is reportedly seeking a five-year contract worth at least $100 million and has been linked to the Twins, Cardinals, Reds, D-backs, White Sox and Braves. More suitors could emerge in the coming days, as the 30-year-old left-hander will likely become a target for teams who finish runners-up in the Gerrit Cole sweepstakes.

The Giants are in need of rotation help and have newfound financial flexibility this year, but it’s unclear how much interest they’ll have in re-signing Bumgarner to a long-term deal. They’ve already non-tendered popular center fielder Kevin Pillar and watched All-Star closer Will Smith and backup catcher Stephen Vogt depart via free agency, moves that likely signal the club’s incipient focus on youth and player development.

Regardless of what happens with Bumgarner, Zaidi said he expects to make at least one addition to the rotation, possibly by the end of the week.

The Giants are projected to have Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija at the top of their rotation next season, but they’d like to bolster their depth to protect young starters such as Logan Webb -- who is expected to be subject to an innings limit in 2020 -- and Tyler Beede. They pursued Cole Hamels before the veteran left-hander agreed to a one-year, $18 million deal with the Braves last week.

“I would expect us to add at least one starting pitcher here,” Zaidi said. “By here, I don't necessarily mean in San Diego, but there's a good chance we do that. We're having multiple conversations on that front. Pitching is a big priority for us, as is for a lot of teams. That's been a major focus for us leading up to this. It’s expected to be busy this week.”

The Giants are also considering adding a power-hitting corner outfielder and a left-handed-hitting infielder who can spell Evan Longoria and Mauricio Dubón, both of whom swing from the right side. While Vogt split the bulk of the catching duties with Buster Posey in 2019, the Giants don’t sound particularly eager to find a veteran replacement. Top prospect Joey Bart is on his way and could be ready to debut next season, and the Giants would like to give Aramis Garcia more looks behind the plate as well.

“I think we view it as a chance to give some younger players opportunities,” Zaidi said. “We have a lot of offseason left. We have flexibility, and we're going to make meaningful additions to this team that are going to impact the 2020 roster. I think our perspective this offseason is going to be one with a longer-term view in mind and not just thinking about 2020, but 2020, 2021 and beyond. But I think when the bell rings on Opening Day next year, we're going to try to win as many games as possible, just like we did in 2019.”

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