Giants will enter free agency, GM meetings without new baseball chief

Giants will enter free agency, GM meetings without new baseball chief

The 30 major-league teams are ready to light the pilot on the Hot Stove season, which begins in earnest Saturday when they can sign free agents from other teams. Then, come Tuesday when the general manager meetings begin near San Diego, trade talks will gather steam. Where does that leave the Giants,

Will Freeze or Frenzy Face 2018 Free Agent Class?

Will Freeze or Frenzy Face 2018 Free Agent Class?

The flame of baseball’s Hot Stove League turns to “high” when the sun comes up Saturday. That’s when free agents are free to sign with any team. But neither players nor teams are in any rush to sign. The hundred-or-so players whose contracts have expired are just the first wave in a

Giants Review: After Dominant Start, Cueto’s Season Ends With Surgery

Giants Review: After Dominant Start, Cueto’s Season Ends With Surgery

SAN FRANCISCO – You can’t count on your team staying healthy, especially when you’ve put together a roster built nearly entirely on players in their thirties. But it’s fair to wonder what the 2018 Giants would have looked like with two very specific breaks.  Madison Bumgarner was having his

Giants Review: Concussion robs Williamson of chance for breakout season

Giants Review: Concussion robs Williamson of chance for breakout season

SAN FRANCISCO – There was an odd thing about all the major injuries the 2018 Giants suffered. Most organizations watch pitcher after pitcher go down, and the Giants certainly took some blows there. But for the most part, the biggest hits came to the lineup. 

The result was a September lineup card that included just about every position player on the 40-man roster. This morning, we looked at the pitchers who are on the 40-man roster but did not join the team – for various reasons – in September. When you do the same with position players, you’re left with just two: Miguel Gomez and Mac Williamson. Gomez didn’t do enough on the field to warrant a promotion. Williamson likely would have been the starting left fielder the whole second half, but he was shut down with a concussion. 

Here’s a breakdown of two Giants prospects with uncertain futures:

What Went Right: Gomez, 25, was once viewed as a Baby Panda. He’s an aggressive switch-hitter with serious bat-to-ball skills, and at the very least it looked like he would carve out a role as a nice pinch-hit option for Bruce Bochy. We’ll get to the issues in a moment. The good news here is that he posted a .313/.333/.479 slash line in Double-A, and even though his overall numbers in Triple-A were poor, he did manage to bat .273. 

Williamson looked like a breakout star all spring after overhauling his swing in the offseason. The work with Doug Latta nearly put him on the roster on opening day, and after posting a 1.626 OPS (yes, that’s correct) in his first 11 Triple-A games, he forced his way up. Williamson homered in three of six big league games before getting hurt. The Giants had 13 balls hit with an exit velocity of 110 mph or above, and Williamson had three of them in limited time. He had the hardest-hit (114.2 mph) homer of the year by a Giant. There is power here that is just about unmatched in the organization.  

What Went Wrong: The Giants feel Gomez is a man without a position, and he doesn’t hit enough to make that work. He had six homers and drew just nine walks in 423 at-bats across two minor league levels. In the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, he posted a .648 OPS.

For Williamson, the main thing that went wrong in 2018 involved a two-decades-old decision to put the bullpen mounds along the left field line at AT&T Park. He went down hard on April 24 and suffered a concussion, and the hot streak was over when he returned. Williamson had a .571 OPS and just one homer in 23 games, and after similar issues in the minors, he was shut down and sent for further evaluation. The concussion symptoms had been there all along, and Williamson didn’t play after August 7. 

Contract Status: Neither player is arbitration eligible. Gomez has one option remaining. Williamson is out of options. 

The Future: The emergence of Alen Hanson and Abiatal Avelino could end Gomez’s time on the 40-man roster. The Giants feel pretty comfortable with their depth at second base. The Williamson decision is fascinating. Before he tumbled over a bullpen mound, he looked poised to break out and possibly grab the left field job for good. It’s possible the Giants will look at Williamson, Austin Slater and Chris Shaw and decide that one way or another, they’ll go young in left field next season. In that case a healthy Williamson could start the season in the lineup. It’s also possible that the front office will be scared off by his concussion and acquire a player who once again blocks the path to playing time. Williamson waited a long time for his shot at an everyday job. The hope is that one injury didn’t take that away from him. 

Giants Notes: Free agents Holland, Hundley hope to return

Giants Notes: Free agents Holland, Hundley hope to return

SAN FRANCISCO – Hunter Pence got to give a speech and ride off on a scooter. For other Giants, the end might have come without anyone knowing it, but two key veterans hope that’s not the case.

Derek Holland reiterated before the game that he wants to return to San Francisco next season. Afterward, Nick Hundley said the same. 

SAN FRANCISCO – Hunter Pence got to give a speech and ride off on a scooter. For other Giants, the end might have come without anyone knowing it, but two key veterans hope that’s not the case.

Derek Holland reiterated before the game that he wants to return to San Francisco next season. Afterward, Nick Hundley said the same. 

“This is an amazing place, a one-of-a-kind organization,” Hundley said. “Obviously we didn’t win a whole lot of games this month, but we were right in the thick of it up until the end of August. If we’re healthy, this team is capable of winning a World Series. If I’m able to add to that, I would definitely take the opportunity.”

The Giants do need to shake things up, but these are two decisions that could be easy. Hundley had a one-year, $2.5 million deal and something similar should be in the works. The staff is excited about Aramis Garcia and believes he could handle backup duty, but with Buster Posey rehabbing from major surgery, the preference is to have a veteran in-house, too. Holland made $2 million and gave the Giants a 3.57 ERA in 171 1/3 innings. He’s due a raise, and could be in line for a multi-year deal, but a reunion makes sense. 

— The Giants finished 73-89 a year after losing 98 games. They’ll pick 10th in the draft. That’s a slot where they previously picked up Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum. This wasn’t how they wanted to end it, though. This was embarrassing. They gave up 14 runs in the first five innings. 

“No question, that’s the last way we wanted this thing to go out,” manager Bruce Bochy said. 

Hunter Strickland replaced Andrew Suarez in the third and continued the fireworks, giving up three earned in 1/3 of an inning. Strickland started this season as the closer and did a pretty decent job before punching a door and putting himself on the DL for two months. He finished it with diminished velocity and a 3.97 ERA. Strickland made $1.55 million in arbitration this season and is due a small raise for next year. Will the Giants want to pay a couple million for a right-hander who was stuck in mop-up duty down the stretch? 

Earlier in the day, Brian Sabean spoke with reporters and did not seem to indicate that the Giants plan to non-tender anyone notable, but the new VP/GM will get to make that decision. This will be an interesting one. 

“He never really got in sync when he came back,” Bochy said. “I mean, we’re talking about our closer and he just wasn’t quite right. It just looks like he needs a winter off to get completely healed up.”

— The main story today was Hunter Pence. The funny story today was Brandon Crawford once again changing his teammates’ walk-up songs.