Giants' Plan B: Seeking righty-hitting OFs

March 8th, 2019

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants' hopes of locking Bryce Harper into their outfield for the next decade-plus were dashed last week after the 26-year-old superstar spurned their overtures and signed a record 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies. Though Harper is now off the market, the Giants remain interested in shoring up their outfield depth and are now sorting through potential contingency plans. 

President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said Thursday that he continues to monitor free-agent and trade options after missing out on Harper, who reportedly turned down a 12-year, $310 million offer from the Giants.

"With the kind of investment and duration of a guy like Harper, the Plan B really takes place over 12 years, not just a couple days," Zaidi said. "Obviously, we had sincere interest there. But we're going to be able to do some things, not just before the start of the season, but over the next few years that having him on the roster might have made it more difficult to do."

Veteran outfielders Adam Jones and Carlos Gonzalez remain available on the free-agent market, but Zaidi acknowledged that he's more focused on trade targets at the moment. Agent Scott Boras told KNBR 680 during a radio interview Thursday that the Giants have inquired about Gonzalez, but Zaidi said he would prefer to add another right-handed hitter to the outfield mix.

The Giants already have a pair of left-handed-hitting outfielders in Steven Duggar and Gerardo Parra, and the club is expecting to have another trio of left-handed bats in the infield with Brandon Belt, Joe Panik and Brandon Crawford.

"Right-handed is probably more top of mind for us right now," Zaidi said. "I think we feel pretty good about our left-handed bats."

Zaidi also said there could be some hesitancy toward signing free agents this late in the offseason, as they would then face a time crunch to get ready for Opening Day on March 28.

"I think that becomes a greater and greater concern with every day that passes," Zaidi said. "When you look at the recent history of guys that signed late, it's not great. Certainly as time goes on, it makes it more difficult to give a Major League or guaranteed contract. You can still bring guys in on a non-roster basis and be able to get them at-bats over on the Minor League side and evaluate them that way, but it becomes harder and harder to know exactly what you're going to get, coming out of the gate and over the course of the season."

Zaidi said he's comfortable with the club's pitching depth on both the starting and relieving side. Given the bounty of relievers the Giants currently have in camp, Zaidi said he would be open to subtracting from that depth and using it to bolster weaker areas of the club.

"We'll continue to listen because it's a relative position of depth, but I think for us to be successful with the composition of this club, we have to have one of the best bullpens in baseball," Zaidi said. "I think we have that group in-house, and we don't necessarily want to compromise that. But it's certainly a group that we have enough depth we could trade from it and still be in that kind of position."

The Giants' organizational structure has changed at the top now that CEO Larry Baer has taken a leave of absence, but Zaidi said he doesn't expect the shift to impede any future acquisitions. Rather than report directly to Baer, Zaidi said he will communicate with a board of directors that represents the club's ownership group.

"I had the opportunity to meet the board in my interview process," Zaidi said. "We've had a couple board meetings, and Larry did a great job of kind of making sure I'd had some direct contact with them and had relationships there. We don't necessarily have another Harper situation imminent or brewing that's going to require real active involvement from the board, but as decisions need to be made, we have a really strong infrastructure in place."