San Francisco Giants’ Mark Melancon (41) pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the ninth inning at AT&T Park Monday, April 10, 2017, in San Francisco, Calif. (Jim Gensheimer/Bay Area News Group)
And, in a winter when few teams wanted to add veterans and fewer still wanted to add the contracts that came with those veterans, the Giants might have been a year too late to sell off Bumgarner, Buster Posey, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Crawford and Belt for the killer prospect haul that would have been needed to justify a teardown.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.–The competition for the Giants’ final reserve infielder spot could come down to the wire, and Friday, the club determined 10-year Major League veteran Andrés Blanco won’t be involved.
The Giants announced they released Blanco prior to the start of the team’s final Cactus League game against the Kansas City Royals.
Blanco arrived in spring training with an infection on his leg that forced him to miss the first week and a half of games. After Blanco was healthy enough to play, he recorded seven hits in 19 at-bats, but didn’t have enough time to push Kelby Tomlinson and Josh Rutledge for one of the last spots on the Giants’ bench.
The competition between Tomlinson and Rutledge remains ongoing, as Rutledge will start at shortstop Friday while Tomlinson will play second base.
Rutledge said Friday morning that he didn’t believe he had an out clause in the Minor League contract he signed with San Francisco, which means he can continue battling with Tomlinson through Tuesday when the Giants wrap up an exhibition series with the Oakland A’s.
“I feel like this spring has been pretty good,” Rutledge said. “The main thing for me has just kind of been getting back out there and just feeling healthy. Getting some good innings under my belt.”
One of the keys for Rutledge if he hopes to outlast Tomlinson is proving he can be a competent backup shortstop to starter Brandon Crawford. With Pablo Sandoval capable of providing depth at first and third base, the Giants need a utility player who can handle grounders at shortstop and second base.
Rutledge has appeared in 137 career games as a shortstop, and said Friday it’s his natural position.
“That was my natural position up until a few years ago and then I haven’t played it as much,” Rutledge said. “Getting back over there was a little bit of a change at first but definitely starting to feel a lot more comfortable.”
Rutledge arrived in camp as a non-roster invitee while Tomlinson boasted three years of experience as a backup on the Giants’ 25-man roster. Tomlinson still has a Minor League option available, but if Rutledge opens the season on the Opening Day roster, the Giants would need to clear a 40-man roster spot for him.
The Giants may also consider alternatives from other organizations, as few teams have set their rosters. More players will be released in the coming days, but the Phillies have already cut ties with Adam Rosales while the Twins let go of Erick Aybar.
Parker’s chances dropping
Giants’ outfielder Jarrett Parker did not take batting practice with the team on Thursday and was not listed on the lineup sheet for Friday’s game.
Barring an injury to another outfielder in the coming days, it is unlikely Parker makes the Opening Day roster. Because he’s out of Minor League options, the Giants would need to designate Parker for assignment, clearing a 40-man roster spot.
Jones, a restricted free agent, received a second-round tender from the Giants, a source told NJ Advance Media. He will receive a one-year, $2.9 million contract for 2018.
Another NFL team interested in Jones still can sign him to an offer sheet at the risk of losing a second-round pick to the Giants. If Jones signed, the Giants would have the choice of matching the offer or accepting the draft pick as compensation.
Had the Giants gone the cheaper route and offered Jones — who went undrafted and signed out of the Canadian Football League — the original round tender, another team almost surely would have made a move for Jones because it would not have meant losing a draft pick.
Then the Giants could have wound up paying more than $2.9 million.
In restricted free agency, the only tenders are first round, second round and original round. The player’s set salary gets higher as the level of draft pick compensation gets better.
The Giants had until 4 p.m. Wednesday to make an offer. The same deadline applies to unsigned exclusive rights free agents.
Jones signed with the Giants in February 2015 and was a backup center and guard for two seasons until taking making 13 starts in 2017. He took over when starting center Weston Richburg went on injured reserve and played well enough that the Giants didn’t show serious interest in re-signing Richburg, who agreed to a five-year deal Tuesday from the 49ers.
With Jones in the fold, the Giants have three returning starters on the offensive line (tackle Ereck Flowers and guard John Jerry). The Giants are in the market for at least two starters, and their primary plan fizzled when All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell picked the Jaguars.
Even relatively unproven offensive linemen like Chris Hubbard — who had 14 starts in four seasons with the Steelers, including 10 in 2017 — got big money Tuesday. Hubbard agreed to a five-year, $37.5 million contract with the Browns.
So Jones is a bargain even at a big pay raise from his $615,000 in 2017, according to spotrac.com.