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Giants find center fielder, sign free agent A-Jax

Outfielder could solidify position or platoon after club added Cutch to play right
MLB.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants completed their outfield upgrade, at least on paper, by agreeing with free-agent center fielder Austin Jackson on a two-year, $6 million deal on Monday.

The club confirmed the accord shortly after a source told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand that the sides had reached a deal that could be worth up to $8.5 million with incentives.

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants completed their outfield upgrade, at least on paper, by agreeing with free-agent center fielder Austin Jackson on a two-year, $6 million deal on Monday.

The club confirmed the accord shortly after a source told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand that the sides had reached a deal that could be worth up to $8.5 million with incentives.

Adding Jackson, who will turn 31 on Feb. 1, conceivably represents the final step in San Francisco's attempt to improve its outfield defense. Jackson gives the Giants a legitimate center fielder, though Steven Duggar -- their No. 5 prospect according to MLB Pipeline -- will compete for playing time during Spring Training. Former Pirates star Andrew McCutchen, obtained in a trade last week, is expected to play right field. Hunter Pence, San Francisco's regular right fielder since he was acquired from Philadelphia at the non-waiver Trade Deadline in 2012, will play left or become the fourth outfielder.

Giants general manager Bobby Evans said in a statement that Jackson "is a talented and versatile player who will strengthen our roster and provide additional depth at all three outfield positions."

Video: KC@CLE: Jackson scores on RBI single thanks to error

This indicated that Jackson, a right-handed batter, could platoon with the left-handed-swinging Duggar. Playing left field part-time is also a possibility for Jackson, who has made 42 appearances there during eight Major League seasons.

Jackson thrived with the Indians last season, recording a slash line of .318/.387/.482 with seven home runs in 85 games while mostly occupying a platoon role against left-handed pitchers. In 141 plate appearances against lefties in 2017, he posted a 1.013 OPS with four homers.

Jackson owns a lifetime slash line of .275/.336/.403, with 111 stolen bases and 62 home runs. The Giants limited him to a .231 batting average (3-for-13) while sweeping the Tigers, with whom he spent his first 4 1/2 seasons, in the 2012 World Series.

Video: CLE@SEA: Jackson's running grab begins double play

Though Jackson's defensive statistics aren't stunning, his presence ought to help improve the Giants' outfield defense overall. According to Statcast™, they ranked next-to-last in the Majors with minus-16 Outs Above Average (OAA) last year. Jackson had a minus-2 OAA. Denard Span, San Francisco's primary center fielder, and Pence ranked among the National League's bottom 20 outfielders in terms of average arm strength.

The Giants were said to have interest in other free-agent center fielders, including Jarrod Dyson (plus-7 OAA in 2017), Cameron Maybin (plus-2) and Jon Jay (minus-3).

According to FanGraphs, San Francisco also recorded minus-45 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), worst in the Majors last season. Its minus-11.4 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) ranked third-to-last among the 30 teams.

Jackson had a minus-2 DRS and a minus-4.4 UZR in 2017.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

 

San Francisco Giants, Austin Jackson

Giants officially introduce Longo to Bay Area

Three-time All-Star adds to strong presence in clubhouse
MLB.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- Though being one of the Giants' premier acquisitions will bring Evan Longoria considerable attention, his primary objective is to avoid it.

Longoria was in the spotlight on Friday, when the Giants introduced him to local reporters during a news conference. This was Longoria's first official visit to AT&T Park since the Giants acquired him in a five-player deal with the Rays on Dec. 20.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Though being one of the Giants' premier acquisitions will bring Evan Longoria considerable attention, his primary objective is to avoid it.

Longoria was in the spotlight on Friday, when the Giants introduced him to local reporters during a news conference. This was Longoria's first official visit to AT&T Park since the Giants acquired him in a five-player deal with the Rays on Dec. 20.

Longoria's performance and persona led him to become the player most synonymous with the Rays through most of his 10 years with the club. However, he had to alter his perspectives once Tampa Bay dealt him to San Francisco. The Rays' return included infielder Christian Arroyo, outfielder Denard Span, left-hander Matt Krook and right-hander Stephen Wood.

Video: Longoria excited to join Giants' winning tradition

"The truth of the matter is, this is a veteran team and there are some very established faces," Longoria said of the Giants. He related that he told a group of fans, "I think I'm smart enough to figure out where I fit in. The goal is not to ruffle any feathers. ... The goal is to make this transition as seamless [as possible] for everybody. Because I've been through the process of having a lot of turnover over the years in Tampa and I know that it's difficult."

Lumping himself with outfielder Andrew McCutchen, the five-time All-Star outfielder who was acquired on Sunday from the Pirates, Longoria mused that the Giants' existing veterans should ease pressure on the new arrivals.

Video: Longoria expecting Giants to have success

"We won't be the first one that's thought about," Longoria said. "It'll be [Buster Posey]. Or it'll be [Madison Bumgarner]. Or it'll be Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt, those guys who have been here their whole career. They'll be the ones that'll be most likely be asked to answer [wide-ranging] questions. It takes some pressure off our shoulders."

• Power behind Posey could perk up SF in 2018

Giants general manager Bobby Evans echoed manager Bruce Bochy, who said that adding McCutchen, 31, and Longoria, 32, should upgrade team chemistry.

Video: Longoria relates to new teammate McCutchen

"We obviously had success with the strong presence of veteran players in this clubhouse," Evans said. "I think that there's a big load to bear, and it's nice to bring in guys who have big shoulders."

Tweet from @SFGiants: Behind the scenes.#HelloLongo | #SFGiants pic.twitter.com/BIyNPRTyD1

Worth noting
Blach in mix: Evans said that Chris Stratton and Ty Blach "probably have a leg up" on the competition for the club's fourth and fifth starter's spots.

Evans indicated that left-hander Andrew Suarez and right-hander Tyler Beede remain contenders for the vacancies.

"We feel confident that we have the makings of our fourth and fifth starter with Blach and Stratton really leading the way as we go into the spring," Evans said. "But we also want to allow Suarez and Beede to show us what their sense of timing is to contribute, because we believe that they're both going to help us at some point."

Bullpen bits: Evans said that closer Mark Melancon, who underwent forearm surgery, will be able to perform with no restrictions in Spring Training. Evans added that right-hander Derek Law is a favorite to claim a bullpen role, though rookie Reyes Moronta could draw attention.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

 

San Francisco Giants, Evan Longoria

Well-traveled Vielma heads back to Giants

MLB.com

The Giants acquired infielder Engelb Vielma from the Pirates on Thursday, according to multiple reports.

Vielma, 23, returns to the Giants' organization, where he began the offseason after San Francisco claimed him off waivers from Minnesota in September. He was then claimed by the Phillies off waivers in November, and by Pittsburgh off waivers in December.

The Giants acquired infielder Engelb Vielma from the Pirates on Thursday, according to multiple reports.

Vielma, 23, returns to the Giants' organization, where he began the offseason after San Francisco claimed him off waivers from Minnesota in September. He was then claimed by the Phillies off waivers in November, and by Pittsburgh off waivers in December.

The Twins signed Vielma out of Venezuela in 2011. Known primarily for his defense, he hit .256/.316/.302 in 2,171 plate appearances over six seasons in Minnesota's farm system.

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.

 

San Francisco Giants, Engelb Vielma

Bochy healthy, stronger heading into 2018

Giants skipper dealt with arrhythmia during '17 campaign
MLB.com

Bruce Bochy enters 2018 as Major League Baseball's winningest active manager.

More important, he's starting his 12th season with the Giants in improved health.

Bruce Bochy enters 2018 as Major League Baseball's winningest active manager.

More important, he's starting his 12th season with the Giants in improved health.

Giants general manager Bobby Evans said on MLB Network Radio this week that Bochy is noticeably stronger after undergoing two cardiac ablation surgeries last year -- in April and October -- to address atrial fibrillation.

"He looks better," Evans said in an interview that aired Tuesday on MLB Roundtrip. "I can tell just from his voice, his demeanor, spending some time with him in December. I can just see it."

Bochy, 62, also underwent a heart procedure in 2015, when he had two stents inserted after blocked blood vessels were discovered. Last year's arrhythmia coincided with a 64-98 season, the Giants' worst since moving to San Francisco.

"The fire has never gone out with him," Evans said. "Physically, the challenges of arrhythmia are now behind him. I think that's refreshing for him. I think that's refreshing for his family. It's relieving for all of us. I look forward to the year ahead with him feeling better.

"When the club struggles, none of us feel good. But on top of that, with the arrhythmia, [that] made it worse. Now, we can put that behind us."

Bochy's contract with the Giants runs through 2019. When asked about Bochy's long-term future with the club, Evans replied, "I can't foresee anything but 'Boch' feeling better already."

Bochy is widely viewed as a future Hall of Fame manager. He is one of only 10 managers in MLB history to win at least three World Series titles. The other nine are enshrined in Cooperstown.

Jon Paul Morosi is a reporter for MLB.com and MLB Network. He is a contributor to MLB Network Radio and conducted this week's interview with Evans alongside co-host Jeff Joyce.

 

Giants introduce new right fielder: McCutchen

A staple in center with Pirates, former NL MVP shifts to corner, while Pence moves to left
MLB.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- The only way the Giants could feel more excited about acquiring Andrew McCutchen would be if he covered adjacent outfield positions simultaneously.

The Giants introduced McCutchen to members of the local media on a conference call Tuesday, one day after the club obtained the five-time National League All-Star from the Pirates for right-hander Kyle Crick and outfielder Bryan Reynolds.

SAN FRANCISCO -- The only way the Giants could feel more excited about acquiring Andrew McCutchen would be if he covered adjacent outfield positions simultaneously.

The Giants introduced McCutchen to members of the local media on a conference call Tuesday, one day after the club obtained the five-time National League All-Star from the Pirates for right-hander Kyle Crick and outfielder Bryan Reynolds.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy was unrestrained in his praise for McCutchen, who's expected to bolster the team's sagging offense with fellow veteran and offseason acquisition Evan Longoria.

Video: McCutchen, Longoria will help defense and lineup

"I'm just thrilled. I am so excited. This is great news for us," said Bochy, who cited McCutchen's run production, speed and clubhouse presence before adding, "I believe we're not just getting a great player. We're getting a great teammate."

Bochy announced that McCutchen, who spent most of the nine previous seasons stationed in center field for Pittsburgh, will play right field, with incumbent right fielder Hunter Pence moving to left.

Video: McCutchen on joining Giants, looking forward to 2018

"It's going to be almost like playing center field," McCutchen said of switching to right at AT&T Park, which is known for its oversized outfield acreage.

McCutchen made his first 13 starts last season in right field, then returned to center when Starling Marte received an 80-game suspension after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. McCutchen remained in center after Marte's return.

Video: STL@PIT: McCutchen lays out for spectacular grab

McCutchen's aware that, according to advanced metrics, his defensive performance has declined. His dossier last year included a minus-14 Defensive Runs Saved and a minus-4.5 Ultimate Zone Rating.

However, McCutchen went from being, statistically, the Majors' worst center fielder in 2016 (negative-11 Outs Above Average) to middle-of-the-pack (zero OAA) in '17. He flashed his sense of humor as he discussed playing right field, where he has a scant track record.

"That's one of the things people can't pick on me, saying my defensive metrics are so bad," the 2013 NL MVP said.

McCutchen's shift left San Francisco with one remaining player-position priority: Securing a center fielder with enough range to handle AT&T Park's outfield.

Video: Giants GM Evans on plans for center field

The Giants have been linked to Lorenzo Cain, perhaps the top center fielder available in free agency. But speculation persists that they're more likely to sign a lower-profile, lower-salaried free agent, such as Jarrod Dyson, Jon Jay, Austin Jackson or Cameron Maybin, to a one-year deal. Trading for Cincinnati's Billy Hamilton is another ongoing rumor. Sealing any of these potential deals would enable the Giants to steep their top center-field prospect, Steven Duggar, in Triple-A for one more season. MLB Pipeline has Duggar rated fifth among the organization's top 30 prospects.

"This is the time of year when you'd rather have Duggar in your back pocket, if you can, and work on some other things to bring in a center fielder who allows Duggar more time [to develop]," Giants general manager Bobby Evans said. "That said, we'll just continue to explore the different options. We're engaged in a number of scenarios right now."

While Evans juggles the possibilities, McCutchen, who's enormously popular in Pittsburgh, displayed admirable balance in bidding his former team farewell while joining the fold of his new one.

Video: McCutchen's powerful legacy in Pittsburgh

"There are a lot of emotions that come along with this," said McCutchen, 31. "To put it in a nutshell, we have a lot to be excited about and we have also ... a lot to be thankful for."

Joining the Giants, who eliminated the Pirates from the 2014 postseason with a 8-0 triumph in the NL Wild Card Game, was among the blessings McCutchen mentioned. He called them "an organization who knows what winning is all about."

Giants baseball operations czar Brian Sabean described the club's efforts to obtain McCutchen as a quest of sorts.

"This player has been kind of the apple of our eye in the offseason," Sabean said. "It was a dogged pursuit."

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

 

San Francisco Giants, Andrew McCutchen, Hunter Pence

Giant move: SF acquires McCutchen from Pirates

Club adds former NL MVP to lineup in exchange for prospects Reynolds, Crick, international slot money
MLB.com

The Giants reaffirmed their win-now approach with Monday's acquisition of Andrew McCutchen, while the Pirates maintained their focus on the future by trading the popular outfielder for right-hander Kyle Crick and outfield prospect Bryan Reynolds.

The Giants broke a lot of hearts in Pittsburgh by obtaining McCutchen, who had become synonymous with baseball in that city during his nine-year tenure there, and cash considerations. This followed San Francisco's Dec. 20 move that sent four players to Tampa Bay for third baseman Evan Longoria, who evolved into the Rays' most popular everyday performer.

The Giants reaffirmed their win-now approach with Monday's acquisition of Andrew McCutchen, while the Pirates maintained their focus on the future by trading the popular outfielder for right-hander Kyle Crick and outfield prospect Bryan Reynolds.

The Giants broke a lot of hearts in Pittsburgh by obtaining McCutchen, who had become synonymous with baseball in that city during his nine-year tenure there, and cash considerations. This followed San Francisco's Dec. 20 move that sent four players to Tampa Bay for third baseman Evan Longoria, who evolved into the Rays' most popular everyday performer.

Video: McCutchen, Longoria will help defense and lineup

"Andrew is a remarkable talent and will be a difference maker in our lineup," Giants senior vice president and general manager Bobby Evans said in a news release. "We're honored to have him and look forward to seeing him in a Giants uniform."

Video: Giants trade prospects to Pirates for McCutchen

The Giants sent Pittsburgh $500,000 in international bonus pool space, while according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal, the Bucs will pay $2.5 million of the $14.5 million McCutchen is owed in 2018, the last year of his contract.

San Francisco hopes it has upgraded the club's offense by adding McCutchen as well as Longoria. The Giants ranked last in the Majors a season ago in home runs (128) and slugging percentage (.380), and they were next-to-last in runs (639) and on-base percentage (.309). No Giants player managed to hit 20 home runs last year, a figure that McCutchen has exceeded for seven consecutive seasons. Longoria has hit 20 or more homers in all but one of his 10 big league seasons.

• McCutchen's new teammates very excited

"It's no secret that we were looking to further add run production to our lineup," Giants executive vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean said in the news release. "Anytime you have the opportunity to bring aboard someone with such a track record, you have to jump on it."

Securing both veterans reflected the Giants' intent to improve upon their performance in 2017, when they finished last in the National League West. Their 64-98 record was their second-worst since the franchise moved to San Francisco in 1958.

Video: Rosenthal discusses Giants' trade for McCutchen

McCutchen, 31, has slipped from the form that earned him National League Most Valuable Player honors in 2013. However, after posting career lows in batting average (.256) and OPS (.766) in 2016, the five-time All-Star rebounded last season to hit .279 with an .849 OPS, garnished by 28 home runs and 88 RBIs.

"Andrew is a dynamic player on the field and will be a leader in our clubhouse," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "He's always been a threat at the plate, and he's a guy you don't ever want to deal with, whether he's at the plate or on the bases; he's going to make something happen."

McCutchen expressed his gratitude toward Pirates fans through Twitter.

Tweet from @TheCUTCH22: Pittsburgh.My Home.My Fans.My City. The placed that raised me and helped mold me into the man I am today. You will 4ever be in my heart.A tip of the cap to all who have been on this journey with me. With Love and respect,Cutch pic.twitter.com/QB0n9vuBuZ

"There is simply nothing easy about this decision," Pirates chairman Bob Nutting said in a club statement. "It is one of the most emotionally agonizing decisions that we have had to make in my tenure. Not only because of the type of player Andrew is, but also because of Andrew the person and for what he has meant to me personally, to our organization, to our fans, and to our community. It has been an honor to see first-hand Andrew grow into the man that he is today."

• GIFs of McCutchen's best plays

Video: McCutchen on award, Clemente's spirit

The position McCutchen will occupy is uncertain. He played exclusively center field until last year, when he started 13 games in right. According to Statcast™, McCutchen was assigned zero Outs Above Average (OAA) last season. That reflected a significant improvement over 2016, when he recorded a negative-11 OAA. However, McCutchen also checked in with a negative-14 Defensive Runs Saved and a negative-4.5 Ultimate Zone Rating. These factors, combined with the oversized dimensions of AT&T Park's outfield, make McCutchen a candidate to play a corner spot.

That conceivably leaves the Giants still searching for a center fielder. Like most teams, the Giants would prefer to keep their player payroll under $197 million to avoid paying into the luxury tax and limiting their economic flexibility.

Video: Justice discusses McCutchen trade to Giants

Adding McCutchen's salary for 2018 won't push the Giants over the limit. But they likely would break the $197 million ceiling by signing a relatively pricey free agent -- specifically, Lorenzo Cain -- to play center. That doesn't include the second- and fifth-round Draft choices the Giants would forfeit by signing Cain, as well as the $1 million reduction in their pool for international bonus money.

Thus, with center-field prospect Steven Duggar said to be slightly less than a year away from being ready for the Majors, the Giants might try to upgrade the position with a relatively affordable free agent, such as Jarrod Dyson, Jon Jay or Cameron Maybin. Trading for Cincinnati speedster Billy Hamilton also remains an option.

Meanwhile, the Pirates continued to expand their supply of unproven yet promising players, as was the case Saturday when they traded right-hander Gerrit Cole to Houston for four prospects.

The Giants crowed that they secured a player with first-round talent when they selected Reynolds, 22, in the second round of the 2016 Draft. But the emergence of Duggar, who's rated San Francisco's No. 6 prospect by MLB Pipeline, made it easier for the organization to part with the switch-hitting Reynolds, who batted .312 with 10 home runs and 63 RBIs for Class A Advanced San Jose last year.

Crick, 25, made his Major League debut last season and recorded a 3.06 ERA in 30 games. He limited opponents to a .191 batting average.

Video: Cutch trade boosts Posey's value in Giants' lineup

Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
Given the Pirates and Giants both have pitcher-friendly home parks and ranked among the bottom five Major League clubs in runs scored last season, the move to San Francisco will not change McCutchen's fantasy value significantly. Having hit .279 with 28 homers, 88 RBIs, 94 runs and 11 steals in '17, the veteran still profiles as a top 20 fantasy outfielder who can make solid across-the-board contributions. He joins a Giants club that also added Longoria this offseason, providing Buster Posey with the support he needs to remain among the top three catcher assets heading into 2018 drafts. Meanwhile, McCutchen's departure from Pittsburgh slightly lowers the value of Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco and Josh Bell. Moreover, Felipe Rivero is less likely to rank among the saves leaders after the Pirates traded two core players (McCutchen and Cole) in recent days.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. MLB.com reporter Daniel Kramer contributed to this report.

 

San Francisco Giants, Andrew McCutchen

Cutch deal has Giants primed for turnaround

Led by Posey, Bumgarner and newly acquired Longoria, club eyes return to prominence
MLB.com

Giants manager Bruce Bochy said recently that his team's 2018 turnaround would begin with being embarrassed about last season.

"I know our guys," he said. "I know that's going to be the case. They're going to use what happened as motivation."

Giants manager Bruce Bochy said recently that his team's 2018 turnaround would begin with being embarrassed about last season.

"I know our guys," he said. "I know that's going to be the case. They're going to use what happened as motivation."

Not just losing 98 games, but finishing last in the National League West and watching three division rivals -- the Dodgers, Rockies and D-backs -- make the postseason.

This happens with competitive people all the time. In fact, that's the thing that separates special players from the others. In Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner, the Giants have two of the really, really special ones, a pair of future Hall of Famers who've won three World Series championships and believe they're capable of more.

Video: Rosenthal discusses Giants' trade for McCutchen

That's a big part of why the Giants were poised for a bounce-back season even before making the second of two huge trades: Acquiring outfielder Andrew McCutchen from the Pirates on Monday after getting third baseman Evan Longoria from the Rays in December.

In Giant need of offense, SF trades for Cutch

McCutchen and Longoria have this in common: Both were iconic players with their previous teams. They made a huge impact on the field in helping their clubs become competitive and made equally large contributions in the community.

When you're a future Hall of Fame manager like Bochy, you define players by their attitude, professionalism and work ethic, in addition to their production. There tends to be a correlation with this stuff.

McCutchen and Longoria know enough about AT&T Park to appreciate the unique environment: Every seat filled, crowds rowdy. In San Francisco, winning the World Series is not a wild dream. It's what the Giants did in 2010, '12 and '14, and it's what they believe they can do again.

If you wondered if the Giants would retreat a couple of steps and attempt a rebuild this offseason, that was never a consideration. They intended to aggressively pursue upgrades at third base and in the outfield and give it another try. Don't discount them making a move for a defense-first center fielder. Cincinnati's Billy Hamilton is one option via trade. Free agents Jarrod Dyson and Carlos Gonzalez are two more possibilities.

If you'd like to have a conversation about what kind of players Longoria and McCutchen are at this point, that's fair. Longoria is 32, McCutchen 31. Longoria is coming off a season in which he had a .737 OPS and 58 extra-base hits while winning his third Rawlings Gold Glove Award. McCutchen had an .849 OPS with 28 home runs and 11 steals.

McCutchen's new teammates very excited

Here's betting both benefit from a change of scenery and that they buy into a Spring Training in which a lot of players -- and a franchise -- have plenty to prove.

Here's why the Giants were already going to be better:

• Bumgarner is healthy after missing three months with a shoulder injury last season. His competitive fires may burn hotter than any player other than Posey's.

• Right-hander Johnny Cueto's 2017 season was a nightmare, beginning with his father's illness during Spring Training and continuing with a season in which his 4.52 ERA barely resembled his 2.73 mark in the previous nine seasons.

Video: MLB Tonight: Giants trade for McCutchen

• The Giants expect right fielder Hunter Pence, first baseman Brandon Belt and reliever Mark Melancon to be better -- and healthier -- than they were in 2017. This is a huge amount of talent capable of dramatically altering the franchise's direction in '18.

This is the core of players that has set a standard for excellence the last decade, and to add two more consummate pros only enhances the possibilities for a surprise season.

For McCutchen, this trade begins a new chapter in his life. In Pittsburgh, his legacy is secure. His arrival in 2009 brought with it a sense of optimism for a franchise that hadn't been to the potseason since 1992. His decision to sign an extension -- that is, to buy into what the team's new ownership and management were building -- offered even more.

And he delivered. That's the thing to remember. The Pirates did not win a championship during McCutchen's nine seasons, but they were in the mix. They filled up PNC Park. They had people talking Pirates baseball. And as general manager Neal Huntington acquired more and more talent, McCutchen remained the centerpiece.

GIFs of McCutchen's best plays

Between 2013-15, the Pirates won the second-most regular-season games in the Majors (280), seven fewer than the Cardinals. They made three straight postseason appearances, once losing Game 5 of an NL Division Series to Adam Wainwright and the Cards and twice losing NL Wild Card Games to Jake Arrieta and Bumgarner.

Video: Giants trade prospects to Pirates for McCutchen

Those losses are a reminder of how unforgiving postseason baseball can be. In those three seasons, McCutchen hit .308 with 69 home runs and 263 RBIs. HIs .917 OPS was the sixth-best in baseball in that span.

During these three seasons, McCutchen made three straight All-Star appearances and finished third, first and third in NL MVP Award voting. More than what numbers can measure was the way McCutchen played.

His energy and speed were a thing to behold, and when he was rolling, so were the Pirates. While McCutchen helped elevate the Pirates to another place in the hearts and minds of baseball fans around the country, Pittsburgh's success allowed people to see just how good this guy was.

Now, he gets to show a bunch of new folks.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

 

San Francisco Giants, Andrew McCutchen

Andrew McCutchen's new teammates are very excited he's coming to the Bay Area

Look back at all the very best GIFs from Andrew McCutchen's nine years in Pittsburgh

Just a few weeks after they landed one franchise icon, the Giants have struck again: According to a source, San Francisco has agreed to a deal with the Pirates that would bring star center fielder Andrew McCutchen to the Bay Area.

While Giants fans have every right to be thrilled, it's the end of an era in Pittsburgh. Since the Pirates drafted him 11th overall in the 2005 Draft, Cutch has been the face of the franchise, hitting .291/.379/.487 and taking home an NL MVP Award in 2013. But really, his contributions go so far beyond the box score -- so we're here to help the Steel City say goodbye in the only appropriate fashion: with lots and lots of GIFs.

Giants avoid arbitration with Panik, 4 others

Strickland, Dyson, Gearrin, Smith also agree to 1-year deals
MLB.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants avoided arbitration with all five of their eligible players, agreeing to one-year deals with second baseman Joe Panik and relievers Hunter Strickland, Sam Dyson, Cory Gearrin and Will Smith.

Panik's bump in pay is considerable, with the infielder reportedly set to take home $3.45 million in his first year of arbitration. He earned $600,000 last season, hitting .288 with 10 home runs and 53 RBIs in 138 games.

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants avoided arbitration with all five of their eligible players, agreeing to one-year deals with second baseman Joe Panik and relievers Hunter Strickland, Sam Dyson, Cory Gearrin and Will Smith.

Panik's bump in pay is considerable, with the infielder reportedly set to take home $3.45 million in his first year of arbitration. He earned $600,000 last season, hitting .288 with 10 home runs and 53 RBIs in 138 games.

Smith's 2018 contract is worth $2.5 million, per a report from USA Today. Financial details were not immediately available for all of the players following Friday's 10 a.m. PT deadline.

The Giants will keep busy in the weeks ahead, with work still to be done to augment the outfield. The club could also make changes to its pitching staff ahead of Spring Training.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.

 

San Francisco Giants

Longoria opens up on move from Rays to Bay

MLB.com

Evan Longoria is excited about everything San Francisco has to offer -- playing for a promising and respected Giants franchise in front of sellout crowds daily, and returning to his native California -- except for paying rent.

"When you go from living in Florida to having to find a place in San Francisco -- and I'm sure there are plenty of people that are going, 'You make millions of dollars,' it's all relative," Longoria told MLB Network on Friday, about the area real estate.

Evan Longoria is excited about everything San Francisco has to offer -- playing for a promising and respected Giants franchise in front of sellout crowds daily, and returning to his native California -- except for paying rent.

"When you go from living in Florida to having to find a place in San Francisco -- and I'm sure there are plenty of people that are going, 'You make millions of dollars,' it's all relative," Longoria told MLB Network on Friday, about the area real estate.

Longoria reflected on his ambitions with a Giants club that's been aggressive in its attempt to rebound from an MLB-worst 64-98 record. Longoria, who was the longest-tenured player in Rays history, was acquired on Dec. 20 for outfielder Denard Span and three of the Giants' then-Top 30 prospects, per MLB Pipeline: infielder Christian Arroyo (No. 1), left-hander Matt Krook (No. 25) and right-hander Stephen Woods (No. 29).

Longoria said he had a strong inclination he would be traded after speaking with Rays general manager Erik Neander roughly two weeks before the deal was finalized. The Rays are seeking to shed payroll and Longoria would have earned full 10-and-5 rights three days into the season that would give him a full no-trade clause, thus creating urgency to move the $86 million he's owed through 2022 with an option and buyout for '23.

"I didn't have a no-trade clause, so I couldn't really dictate where I went," Longoria said. "But I kind of gave them a list of teams. I obviously wanted to go to a contender. I mean, if I was going to leave for anybody, I wanted to go somewhere that I felt like they were going to be committed to winning, year-in and year-out. I kind of gave them a short list of teams that I thought would be a good fit for me."

Video: Must C Cycle: Longo accomplishes Rays' second cycle

In addition to the third-base-starved Giants, Longoria said he listed the Cardinals. St. Louis had been seeking an impact bat, and were as aggressive as any club in the Giancarlo Stanton sweepstakes, but Stanton denied a trade to the Cardinals and was eventually dealt to the Yankees. St. Louis was also linked to Josh Donaldson trade rumors, as reported by MLB.com.

The Giants need power, presence and longevity, which they believe Longoria can deliver, particularly at a position that has hamstrung them since Pablo Sandoval left via free agency after their 2014 World Series title. Longoria has played in at least 156 games in each of the last five years, more than any other player in that span, and in '16, he hit a career-high 36 homers.

"The consistency of his play, 150-plus games every year and just his overall approach to the game, his presence in our lineup, in our clubhouse, he's sorely needed," Giants general manager Bobby Evans said last month. "We have high expectations for ourselves as does Evan."

Video: High Heat: Evans thrilled to add Longoria to lineup

Longoria will look to transition his offensive prowess into a ballpark known for being pitcher-friendly. He's played in 1,435 games, but none at AT&T Park.

"When I got traded over, I looked at the fan numbers, and I mean, San Francisco wasn't very good last year but they were still No. 3 overall in Major League Baseball in terms of the fan draw. So that's going to be a big change, and just playing on grass every day," he said, referring to the turf at indoor Tropicana Field.

Longoria is prepared for a change of scenery. He's already visited the club's facility in Scottsdale, Ariz., he told MLB Network Radio, with Spring Training just five weeks away.

Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.

 

San Francisco Giants, Evan Longoria

Distractions gone, Beede ready for big jump

Giants' No. 2 prospect to compete for MLB job after moving past trade rumors, thoughts of promotion
MLB.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- Though weddings can generate tension, Tyler Beede welcomed his nuptials as a source of stress relief.

The 24-year-old right-hander found himself mentioned frequently in trade rumors involving Giancarlo Stanton. Beede was said to be included in the package of players the Giants were preparing to send Miami in exchange for the slugger.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Though weddings can generate tension, Tyler Beede welcomed his nuptials as a source of stress relief.

The 24-year-old right-hander found himself mentioned frequently in trade rumors involving Giancarlo Stanton. Beede was said to be included in the package of players the Giants were preparing to send Miami in exchange for the slugger.

As the Giants' top pitching prospect, Beede wasn't expecting to become trade bait. Fortunately for him, he could focus on the vows he ultimately exchanged with his fiancee, Allie, on Nov. 26.

"I think I had a great distraction in that my wedding was going on within the week of the Stanton rumors, so I sort of had that to fall back on," Beede said recently at MLB's Rookie Career Development Program. "I tried to lay back and enjoy the wedding festivities that were going on and kind of let everything handle itself off the field."

Maintaining contact with Giants general manager Bobby Evans also helped Beede remain calm. Evans' reassurance, Beede said, "allowed me to have more peace with the process."

That process will switch to big league Spring Training camp next month in Scottsdale, Ariz., where Beede is expected to compete for a spot in San Francisco's starting rotation. The Giants could have as many as two vacancies in the five-man contingent. Having spent most of the previous three seasons pitching at Double-A or above, Beede feels ready to join what promises to be a spirited pursuit for those openings. Chris Stratton, Ty Blach and Andrew Suarez are among the other candidates.

Video: Bochy impressed with prospects Shaw and Beede

"I feel really good, real confident with what I'm doing," Beede said.

Rated the Giants' No. 2 prospect overall by MLB Pipeline, Beede might have received a promotion to San Francisco last year. But he was sidelined by a groin injury in late July.

Before that, Beede posted a 6-7 record with a 4.79 ERA in 19 starts for Triple-A Sacramento. He admitted that his seemingly impending ascent to San Francisco might have distracted him.

"If I had a good start, [I'd be] sitting there by the phone, waiting for a phone call. And that sort of got in my head," Beede said. "I think I needed to have a new perspective of why I was playing, my routine, my mindset. ... I think the injury put me in that new state of mind where you don't take it for granted where you're at."

When Beede does reach the Majors, he'll have the pointers he learned through the various seminars at the Rookie Career Development Program to guide him through his journey.

"It meant a lot," said Beede, who was selected by the Giants in the first round (14th overall) in the 2014 Draft. "I know how prestigious this is. I know how much you can learn from being here, the knowledge that they bring in on the panels and discussions for these meetings. It's great just to be a sponge, to learn things and implement them into my career, on and off the field. It's been awesome, and I've learned so much while I've been here."

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

 

San Francisco Giants

Forever a Giants treasure, McCovey turns 80

Beloved Hall of Famer remains a key figure in organization
MLB.com

The term "legend" fits Willie McCovey as easily as the Giants cap that rests almost perpetually atop his regal head.

The extraordinary became commonplace for McCovey during his 22-year Major League career (1959-80). The Hall of Fame first baseman, who turns 80 on Wednesday, routinely walked with the greats.

The term "legend" fits Willie McCovey as easily as the Giants cap that rests almost perpetually atop his regal head.

The extraordinary became commonplace for McCovey during his 22-year Major League career (1959-80). The Hall of Fame first baseman, who turns 80 on Wednesday, routinely walked with the greats.

When McCovey sought hitting advice, he called upon more than batting instructors. He approached fellow left-handed hitters Ted Williams and Stan Musial, who combined to win 13 batting titles.

When a youthful McCovey initially visited New York, the Giants didn't assign some front-office person to shepherd him. His chaperone was Willie Mays. Or as McCovey called him, "Mr. New York."

If there's a Mr. San Francisco among the Giants, it's McCovey. By playing in four decades, he bridged generations of fans. His career total of 521 home runs ranks second all-time among National League left-handed batters, exceeded only by Barry Bonds' 762. McCovey's 18 grand slams set an NL record. He played in more games (1,086) and hit more homers (236) at Candlestick Park, the Giants' previous home, than anybody.

The team's most inspirational player award was conceived in 1980 and named the "Willie Mac Award" in his honor. The portion of San Francisco Bay that extends beyond AT&T Park's right-field wall is known as McCovey Cove, since if he were still playing, he'd deposit pitches there regularly.

Video: SFG60: 2017 Willie Mac Award Nick Hundley

To say that those distinctions reflect McCovey's popularity is a gross understatement. He's loved, cherished, embraced, adored and respected to a degree that astounds the man himself.

"I'm still amazed how much you can touch people and how much you mean to them," McCovey said in a recent interview. "I don't know how to explain it. I've met people who tell me, 'You were the only reason my grandmother or somebody lived the last few years, because of you.' Things like that, you listen to it, and you wonder, 'God, that's amazing.'"

To celebrate McCovey's milestone birthday, the Giants have scheduled a private party for him on Thursday at AT&T Park.

"When I was growing up, that seemed ancient, to be 80," McCovey said genially. "But I don't feel any different than when I turned 40, really."

McCovey, who's employed by the Giants as a senior advisor, appreciates his continued recognition.

"It's flattering to still be thought of in that vein when you've been here for so long," he said. "Sometimes you fade away from the people."

When offense began to fade in the Majors, McCovey thrived. From 1965-70, he batted .291 and averaged 38 homers and 106 RBIs per season. He and Hank Aaron of the Braves led all big leaguers with 226 homers apiece in this span. McCovey stood alone at the top with 636 RBIs.

Bob Gibson, the era's most intimidating pitcher, acknowledged McCovey's looming presence. Citing the Giants' talent-laden lineups of the '60s, Gibson said in Lonnie Wheeler's book, "Sixty Feet, Six Inches," "None of the others put the fear in me that McCovey did. Not even Mays."

Video: SF Retired Number: No. 44, Willie McCovey

McCovey's ascent began on July 30, 1959, when he went 4-for-4 off another future Hall of Famer, Philadelphia's Robin Roberts. That has been well-documented. A lesser-known aspect of McCovey's debut involved the bat he borrowed from teammate Ed Bressoud -- a 35-inch, 33-ounce Hillerich & Bradsby Model U1. McCovey's own bats hadn't yet arrived from Phoenix.

Trivial as this might seem, it's the sort of subject that McCovey frequently discussed with Williams, the renowned hitting guru.

"He said it was best to have a bat too light than too heavy," McCovey said.

Early in McCovey's career, while the Giants spent Spring Training in Phoenix, the Red Sox were based in Scottsdale, Ariz. This afforded him opportunities to talk hitting with another slender, stylish practitioner of the art.

"I learned from Ted Williams about getting a good pitch to hit," McCovey said. "He was really my mentor as far as hitting. I talked to Ted a lot. For some reason, he kind of took a liking to me."

McCovey also recalled a pregame chat at Candlestick Park with the peerless Musial. Approaching the end of his career, Musial happily shared his expertise with the earnest McCovey.

"He talked to me for a long time," said McCovey, who added with a chuckle, "I think he went out and got five hits that day."

Let the record show that Musial went 5-for-5 at Candlestick on Sept. 27, 1962.

Of course, the performer McCovey complemented most was Mays, the enduring face of the franchise. They met before joining forces on the Giants. McCovey needed knee surgery after the 1957 season, which he spent at the Giants' Double-A affiliate in Dallas.

"I think that was the first of many," McCovey said. "I've had so many surgeries, I can't count them. These knees have been through hell and back."

Because the Giants' move to San Francisco was in progress, many of their connections remained in New York. McCovey went there for his procedure and stayed with Mays for a few days.

"He was everything in New York at the time," McCovey said.

McCovey came to enjoy such elevated status. Consider the events of Oct. 16, 1962, after the Yankees' World Series-clinching 1-0 triumph over the Giants in Game 7 ended with McCovey's vicious line drive to second baseman Bobby Richardson. It stranded Matty Alou on third base and Mays on second, and haunted the Giants' efforts to win it all until 2010.

Video: 1962 WS Gm7: Richardson robs McCovey, Yanks win

That night, McCovey slipped into Fack's, a trendy San Francisco nightclub featuring the Duke Ellington Band. A couple of musicians recognized McCovey -- at 6-foot-4, he cut a distinct figure -- and saluted his gallant attempt to record a Series-winning hit. The band changed the lyrics from its popular song, "She's Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)," and made it a homage to McCovey's smash: "You Hit It Good (And That Ain't Bad)."

McCovey's incomparable Major League career could have faded into silence on July 6, 1980, when he appeared in his last game. McCovey maintained his run-producing rhythm, launching a pinch-hit sacrifice fly in the eighth inning of the Giants' 7-4 victory at Los Angeles.

But the band played on for McCovey. During the game, McCovey learned that Frank Sinatra, who was scheduled to perform that night in nearby Universal City, planned to dedicate his concert to McCovey and honor him in person. McCovey recalled how Ol' Blue Eyes informed him of his tribute:

"He had his guy call the dugout. Who else would be able to ring the dugout during a game but Frank Sinatra?"

Few besides Willie McCovey would prompt such an august invitation.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

 

San Francisco Giants

Melancon's return is key to Giants' bullpen

MLB.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- Two closers are theoretically better than one, though the Giants would prefer to define the role as a solo act this year.

The Giants signed Mark Melancon to a four-year, $62 million contract last offseason to stabilize the bullpen's back end, but a forearm injury limited the right-hander to 32 appearances and 11 saves in 16 chances during the 2017 campaign.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Two closers are theoretically better than one, though the Giants would prefer to define the role as a solo act this year.

The Giants signed Mark Melancon to a four-year, $62 million contract last offseason to stabilize the bullpen's back end, but a forearm injury limited the right-hander to 32 appearances and 11 saves in 16 chances during the 2017 campaign.

Acquired from the Rangers in early June, Sam Dyson handled the closer's duties capably, converting 14 of 17 opportunities. However, the Giants would prefer to stick with Plan A and use Melancon as the closer, which in turn would deepen the rest of the bullpen by making Dyson a setup man.

Video: COL@SF: Dyson completes Giants' shutout of Rockies

MLB.com is taking a look at the projected bullpen of all 30 teams ahead of Spring Training. Here's how the Giants might stack up:

BULLPEN IF SEASON STARTED TODAY
Mark Melancon, RHP
Sam Dyson, RHP
Hunter Strickland, RHP
Cory Gearrin, RHP
Derek Law, RHP
Ty Blach, LHP
Steven Okert, LHP
Kyle Crick, RHP
Josh Osich, LHP
Reyes Moronta, RHP

STRENGTH
There's plenty of potential here. Okert and Osich both have excellent stuff and can make the bullpen a devastating one if they gain command of their deliveries. The same goes for Law and Moronta, the hard-throwing rookie. And Strickland will continue to make his presence felt as long as he's around. Blach will compete for a spot in the starting rotation, where he spent most of 2017. But he fits the profile of a long reliever and could fill that role if necessary.

Video: SD@SF: Osich gets Hedges to fly out to end the game

QUESTION MARK
That would be Mark, as in Melancon. His health and effectiveness will go a long way toward determining the bullpen's season-long effectiveness. Should Melancon regain his elite form, the Giants would take a big step forward to regaining contender's status. And if left-hander Will Smith comes back strong from Tommy John surgery, that'll be an added bonus, given his versatility.

WHAT MIGHT CHANGE
Virtually every team alters the look of its bullpen every year, even if it's to add only one guy. After all, it's often a very key guy, and the Giants are no exception. They could pick up a true long reliever/sixth starter, a role that Yusmeiro Petit handled so well during his Giants tenure. They might add a true "lights-out" setup reliever or two, though these kinds of stalwarts aren't in great supply. But the Giants have plenty of room for improvement when it comes to overwhelming opposing hitters. Among National League clubs last season, San Francisco's relievers ranked next to last in strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.08) and third from last in strikeouts per nine innings (8.36).

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

 

San Francisco Giants, Mark Melancon