Giants offer Scutaro two years plus vesting option

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Giants offer Scutaro two years plus vesting option

NASHVILLE – The Giants continued to negotiate with second baseman Marco Scutaro and remained hopeful he would accept a two-year contract with a vesting option as the atrium skies darkened over the winter meetings Tuesday.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy told NBC Sports Network that he hoped Scutaro would make a decision before the night was over.

Scutaro is weighing an offer on the table from the Giants while continuing to gauge interest from the Yankees and, perhaps most strongly, from the St. Louis Cardinals. Although the NLCS MVP and Miami resident has told Giants officials that he is eager to return, he also could be swayed to sign with a team that holds spring training in Florida – or with the first club that blinks and offers a third guaranteed year.

The Giants have not been willing to go that far, even though Evans described Scutaro, 37, as an Omar Vizquel type in his durability and longevity. (The Giants once gave Vizquel a three-year deal that took him through his age 40 season, by the way.)

Then there’s the way Scutaro bounced back after the Cardinals’ Matt Holliday took him out with a hard, late and controversial slide at second base during the NLCS.

“If he can survive Holliday at second, it gives me a lot of confidence he can survive into his late 30s,” Evans said, smiling.

Oddly enough, the Cardinals might be the Giants’ toughest competition. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny only smiled when asked about his club’s interest in Scutaro, who went 14 for 28 against them in the NLCS.

[RATTO: Focus shifts to Scutaro with Pagan signed]

It’s believed the Giants started negotiations with a proposal similar to the two-year, $12 million contract that they gave Freddy Sanchez after the 2010 season; the dollars have gone up from there, and the vesting option contains a buyout.

The Giants continue to sift through other business as well and Evans confirmed mutual interest in Ryan Theriot, but only as a backup infielder. The Giants view Joaquin Arias in more of a utility infield role as well.

So second base remains wide open, with a scramble to ensue if the Giants cannot re-sign Scutaro.

He's expected to give them the courtesy of a final shot if he plans to sign elsewhere, though.

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In other news, Angel Pagan will travel to San Francisco on Thursday and take his physical on Friday, at which point his four-year, $40 million contract will become official. That contract instantly looked better a day after it was reached, since the Boston Red Sox will give declining outfielder Shane Victorino $39 million over three years.

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Although Evans said he was enthusiastic about players who lobby to play in San Francisco and outfielder Nick Swisher reportedly would love to go there, I’m told he is viewed as more of a “big-ticket item” and his contract demands will be high enough that the Giants probably won’t do more than listen politely.

That 2013 payroll will be “140 million-something,” according to CEO Larry Baer – an increase over the roughly $130 million-plus in player expenditures last season.

Three more Giants likely to join Posey in World Baseball Classic

Three more Giants likely to join Posey in World Baseball Classic

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Four years ago, Giants coaches made no secret of the fact that they felt some veterans were affected by playing in the World Baseball Classic. The Giants were coming off a long postseason run, but eight of their big leaguers chose to participate in the 2013 event. 

Four years later, the list is down to just four, and the Giants won’t stand in their way. Buster Posey has already been announced as a catcher for Team USA and Brandon Crawford is expected to play as well. Johnny Cueto has told the Giants that he intends on pitching for the Dominican Republic and Albert Suarez plans to pitch for his native Venezuela. 

In past years, clubs have primarily been concerned about pitchers. In an odd way, hitters are almost better off playing in the WBC instead of facing amped up prospects in Cactus League games. The Giants learned that lesson the hard way in 2015 when Hunter Pence was drilled by a prospect with a lack of command, causing him to miss the start of the season. For pitchers, the run-up to Opening Day is a tedious one, but Giants officials said they’re not concerned about their co-ace, Cueto, participating. 

“Major League Baseball is doing everything it can to help us protect them in terms of the quantity of players on the roster and pitch counts and innings,” general manager Bobby Evans said. “We feel MLB is working carefully to help all of us manage guys while they’re away from camp. We feel as confident as ever that they’ll be protected. Lessons have been learned, and everyone involved will try to find ways to avoid issues.”

If Crawford commits to playing, he could find himself in a fun spot. Nolan Arenado has already said he will play for the United States and the two National League West stars could form one hell of a defensive duo on the left side of the infield. Posey will start for a team that already has Max Scherzer and Chris Archer as part of the starting staff. Evans said the teams will carry three catchers, and Posey isn’t expected to be overworked. His manager said he’s not worried about the decision. Posey will simply have to start his preparation process a bit sooner.

“I’m fine with it,” Bruce Bochy said of Posey playing. “Buster wants to do it and I’m good with it.”

This will be the fourth edition of the WBC. In 2013, the Giants were represented by Ryan Vogelsong, Jeremy Affeldt, Sergio Romo, Angel Pagan, Santiago Casilla, Marco Scutaro, Pablo Sandoval and Jose Mijares. 

Bochy: Game 4 loss to Cubs toughest I've ever had to bounce back from

Bochy: Game 4 loss to Cubs toughest I've ever had to bounce back from

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Bruce Bochy had grown accustomed to being in the October spotlight during even years, so he had a hard time getting on board as a spectator during one of the most exciting postseasons in recent memory. 

Bochy’s Giants blew a three-run lead in their final game of the season, a loss so devastating that several players headed home the next day without even packing up their lockers. Two months later, Bochy is all smiles. He likes his team, and on Monday he got the closer he needed back in Game 4 of the NLDS. 

Bochy sat down with CSN Bay Area on Tuesday for a one-on-one interview about Mark Melancon, left field, that postseason loss, his new coaches and much more. It will air tonight on SportsTalk Live at 5 p.m. and we’ll run the whole thing back as a podcast. But for now, here are Bochy’s thoughts on the loss that ended his even-year run: 

“I had a hard time, I’m not going to lie. In all my years, that’s the toughest game I’ve ever had to bounce back off of,” he said. “It took a while. It was hard to watch that first postseason game but gradually it got a little better. Just the way we went out, that’s a tough way to go. Our bullpen has been such a big reason for our success so to go out that way, it really wasn’t just that game — it was the second half — we just had a hard time trying to get it figured out. 

“You know, you’ve got to put it behind you, but I’m not going to lie, that was a pretty big blow to the chin. It took a while to get over it.” 

The Giants led the Cubs 5-2 when Bochy made the decision to pull Matt Moore after eight brilliant innings and 120 pitches. That night, Moore and Bochy and everyone else involved said that there was a consensus that Moore had reached the end of the line. Two months later, Bochy doesn’t regret the move. Moore’s 120 pitches went down as the postseason high. 

“I think you can always look back, but these cards have backs on them,” Bochy said. “I felt good about protecting Moore. If he goes back out there he’s probably looking at 135 or maybe more pitches or you’ve got to bring a reliever in with men on base. I felt with the three-run lead that the guys I had could get three outs.” 

Derek Law was the first man out of the bullpen and he gave up a single that was inches from Brandon Crawford’s glove. Javier Lopez walked Anthony Rizzo. Sergio Romo entered and gave up a double to Ben Zobrist. Will Smith gave up a single to pinch-hitter Willson Contreras. After an error, Hunter Strickland gave up a single to Javier Baez. The Cubs won 6-5 and went on to win the World Series. 

“We knew we could get the matchups that we wanted,” Bochy said on Tuesday. “It started out with Law and he got the ground ball right in the shift. The walk hurt. We got behind Rizzo and ended up walking him and Romo ended up getting behind Zobrist and that hurt, the double. And then we had Smitty. I was comfortable and sure they put in the right-handed bat, but the tying run was on second and I didn’t want a left-handed bat up there to pull the ball. He hits a ball that Smitty doesn’t quite get to, a seeing-eye base hit, and unlike us, we made a costly error. There was another, I felt, like a cheap hit there.

“But these are moments you relive. The good ones, but the bad ones stay with you too sometimes.”