Giants

Could Brian Wilson end up with the Dodgers?

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Could Brian Wilson end up with the Dodgers?

SAN FRANCISCO Brian Wilson is a contrarian with a tastefor shock value. But you knew that already.

So it really shouldnt surprise anyone if hes thought aboutwearing a Los Angeles Dodgers uniform.

That thought is more than a passing whim, so hears Tim Brownof Yahoo! Sports. Reportedly, Wilsons preference, after returning to theGiants, would be to sign with their archrivals.

Wilson lives in the Los Angeles area in the offseason, whichmakes Chavez Ravine an attractive destination. Hes more an L.A. guy anyway.And as a pitchman, he certainly understands the importance of market size.

But could Wilson really be a vision in Blue and White on Opening Day?

Well, first hed have to become a free agent -- and that isvery likely to happen on Friday.

RELATED: Giants, Wilson 'not exactly seeing eye to eye'

As of now, Wilson remains under Giants control, in his finalyear of arbitration eligibility. But he would be free to negotiate with anyclub if the Giants do not tender him a contract by Fridays 9 p.m. (PST)deadline.

For most players with less than six years of service time,this is a paper deadline. But teams often choose to cut loose somearbitration-eligible players, knowing their salaries will exceed theirprojected value. Also, under terms of the collective bargaining agreement,teams cannot cut a players salary by more than 20 percent from the previousseason.

Wilson made 8.5 million this past season, when he pitchedin just two games before undergoing Tommy John surgery to reconstruct his rightelbow ligament. So through arbitration, he couldnt make less than 6.8 millionguaranteed in 2013.

There is absolutely no way the Giants will pledge that kindof guaranteed money to a player coming off his second Tommy John surgery, and who,by most rehab schedules, should not be ready to pitch on opening day. (Wilsonhas pledged to be fully operational, though.) Additionally, players coming offan elbow ligament repair usually need another 12 months of competitionfollowing 12 months of rehab before they begin to get full extension allowingthem to find that familiar late life on their pitches. So most relievers inWilsons shoes would be wobbling on the beam through 2013.

With the Giants payroll expected to make only modestmovement above the 130 million they spent in 2012, every dollar the Giants giveto Wilson is one they cannot spend elsewhere.

Make no mistake, the Giants want Wilson back just notthrough arbitration. So bank on this: if he hasnt agreed to terms with theGiants by Friday, hell become a free agent.

What kind of contract suits the Giants at this stage? Well, TheLos Angeles Angels provided a perfect template when they finalized their dealwith right-hander Ryan Madson, who required Tommy John surgery last spring andnever got off the ground as the Reds closer. Madson received a 3.5 millionguarantee with another 3.5 million in incentives (based on days spent on theactive roster and games finished).

Wilson has every right to feel like he deserves more of aguarantee, though. Amid his usual, cryptic comments, hes mentioned sacrificinghis elbow by extending himself down the stretch to help the Giants win theWorld Series in 2010.

Of course, correlation is not causation. And not everyone inthe Giants front office will agree with Wilsons claim. So this is a touchynegotiation, indeed.

The bottom line is this: Will another team on the openmarket guarantee Wilson more money than the Giants?

From a baseball standpoint, the answer is probably not.But from a marketing standpoint, the angles get interesting.

How much would it be worth to the Dodgers to see Wilsonwearing their uniform? More than 5 million? Id have to think so. This is afranchise that is throwing around money like its got a counterfeitingoperation humming in the basement. The Dodgers might pay that much just to seethe look on the Giants faces when Wilson pitches against them for the firsttime.

So this could turn out to be more than just a bluff on Wilson's part. Either way, it's got to make CEO Larry Baer feel a bit queasy.

Having covered this game for a long time, I can tell youthat baseball moves almost never work out when theyre made for marketingreasons. (Although every once in awhile, a Barry Zito will surprise you in Year6 of a millstone contract.)

Will the Giants view Wilson through baseball terms ormarketing terms? That, more than anything, will determine whether hes backwith the team next season.

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The Giants remain in touch with the agents for Marco Scutaroand Angel Pagan, and it remains likely that Scutaro will re-sign for two yearsor perhaps two with an option. He has been a free agent before and knows all thesteps in this dance

Pagan is a 30-year-old free agent for the first time, and heknows this is his one shot at a massive money grab. Hes staying patient andletting the outfield market shape itself.

It began to coalesce Wednesday, with B.J. Upton showing themost first-step quickness among free-agent center fielders. He reportedly agreedto a five-year contract with the Atlanta Braves that will guarantee him atleast 70 million.

Upton was considered the second best free-agent centerfielder on the market, behind Michael Bourn. The Braves obviously preferredUpton on their terms over whatever Bourn is demanding, especially since theyllhave to sacrifice a first-round draft pick to Tampa Bay as compensation.

This is good and bad for the Giants. On one hand, the Braveswere interested in Pagan. So one of his bigger suitors has a full shoppingcart. (Although they still want a left fielder who could hit leadoff.) On the other hand, Upton got a fifth year. If he had signed a four-yeardeal, maybe Pagans market gets capped at three.

Just my gut: I think the Giants would be willing to givePagan three years but not four.

So the wait continues.

Just remember: If the Giants fail to re-sign Pagan, theyllneed to find both a leadoff hitter and an outfielder. Shane Victorino is outthere, and so is Ichiro Suzuki. But neither of them are so terrific in theon-base percentage department.

As for top outfield prospect Gary Brown, he likely wont beready anytime soon. He still has to make some big adjustments to competeagainst higher level pitching following a tough year at Double-A Richmond.

Matt Moore blanks Rockies, continues late-season surge

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AP

Matt Moore blanks Rockies, continues late-season surge

SAN FRANCISCO — Matt Moore knew there was something different about his final home start at AT&T Park this season, and not just the fact that he received a loud ovation as he walked off the mound in the seventh. Moore noted later that the outing was the first shutout he has been a part of this year. In fact, it was the first time in 30 starts that he walked off the mound without having allowed a run. 

“I guess it’s better late than never,” he said. 

The Giants are hoping it’s actually a preview of things to come. They counted on Moore to be a big part of their 2017 push, but instead, he likely will finish with the worst ERA of any full-time starter in the National League. Still, general manager Bobby Evans has informed Moore that his 2018 option will be picked up, something that Moore appreciated given the time of year. 

“I always pictured myself here,” he said. 

Whether coincidence or some kind of “weight off the shoulders” situation, Moore’s first start since the public revealing of the decision was his most encouraging of the year. Facing a good lineup, and a team that needed a win desperately, he pitched six shutout innings. The Giants beat the Rockies 4-0. 

Moore was already showing signs of life, with a 3.76 ERA over his seven previous appearances. Bruce Bochy viewed this as another step forward. 

“It’s been getting better and better with each start,” he said. “What he did really well today was on the arm side. He had good balance to both sides of the plate.”

Moore peppered the outside corner with fastballs, and he credited catcher Nick Hundley with stealing a few strikes. The plan allowed Moore to put hitters away in big spots, one of three points of emphasis he brought into the second half. The other two: limiting lefties and getting ahead of hitters.

That’s Moore’s roadmap back to being the player the Giants acquired. For the team as a whole, the roadmap back to relevance is similar to Wednesday’s plan. This is not a home-run hitting lineup, but the Giants are 47-21 when scoring four runs, and Wednesday was a reminder of the different paths to that magical number. 

Brandon Crawford had a solo homer, but the first two runs came on sacrifice flies and the fourth on a walk-wild pitch-single combination. Bochy said he liked “the brand of ball” his team played.

“They executed so well today,” he said. “It’s just good baseball, and that’s what I felt good about.”

Doing due diligence, Giants send Evans, Shelley to scout Shohei Otani in Japan

Doing due diligence, Giants send Evans, Shelley to scout Shohei Otani in Japan

SAN FRANCISCO — A couple of weeks ago, a Giants official expressed amazement about how little was known about the desires of Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani.

“Teams know just about as much as you guys (in the media),” he said. 

The Giants are hoping that changes this week. General manager Bobby Evans and assistant GM Jeremy Shelley have traveled to Japan to take a look at the 23-year-old, who reportedly will come over to play in Major League Baseball next season. 

“There’s going to be a lot of attention on him and it’s part of the scouting process every club goes through,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s doing our due diligence, as you say.”

Otani is a rare prospect, a potential ace on the mound and lineup-altering bat in the outfield. He has 47 homers in just over 1,000 professional at-bats, and this season he’s batting .341. As a hard-throwing pitcher with a wipeout breaking ball, Otani has a 2.57 career ERA for the Nippon Ham Fighters. He had a 1.86 ERA last season with 174 strikeouts in 140 innings. 

Because he’s said to be coming over at such a young age, Otani will sacrifice the chance to sign a massive contract. The CBA limits him to collecting money from a team’s international bonus pool, and the Giants are limited to $300,000. Still, some other big-market teams are in the same boat, and despite their lack of pool money and poor season, the Giants surely believe they have plenty to offer. 

It’s not known what Otani is looking for, but perhaps he wants to play in a big city to make up some of his lost earnings? Perhaps he wants to play on the West Coast, closer to his home country, or in a region with a big Japanese population? Perhaps he’s just a big Buster Posey fan? The Giants intend to find out, and to be in the bidding. 

It’s possible that Otani has seen the way Bochy uses Madison Bumgarner as a pinch-hitter, but Bochy said he can’t imagine using a true two-way player. 

“I don’t think it would work,” he said. “You’re talking more of something that might work in the American League. That’s a lot of throwing and wear-and-tear.”