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.

Dodgers claim former Giants RHP Chris Heston off waivers

Dodgers claim former Giants RHP Chris Heston off waivers

Chris Heston will always go down in Giants history. 

On June 9, 2015, Heston hurled the 17th no-hitter in club history in the Giants' 5-0 win over the Mets at Citi Field. Now two years later, Heston is one of the Giants' rivals. 

The Dodgers claimed Heston off waivers Friday, the club announced. He went 0-1 with a 19.80 ERA over two appearances -- one start -- for the Mariners this season. 

After the 2016 season, the Giants traded Heston to the Mariners for a player to be named later, who still hasn't been named to date. 

Heston went 13-12 with a 4.16 ERA over 38 games pitched for the Giants from 2014-16. 

Down on the Farm: Crick continues to impress as River Cats' closer

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USATSI

Down on the Farm: Crick continues to impress as River Cats' closer

Long before there were Giants pitching prospects like Ty Blach and Tyler Beede, Kyle Crick was the talk of the town and for good reason. 

San Francisco selected Crick with their sandwich-pick in the Compensation A Round, No. 49 overall, as a power-throwing right-handed Texas high school arm in 2011. Quickly he showed his immense potential on the mound and seemed to be on the fast track to The Show. 

In Crick’s first full season of minor league ball, he posted a 2.51 ERA to go with 128 strikeouts in 111.1 innings pitched for the Augusta GreenJackets at just 20 years old. One year later in 2013, he upped his game, pitching to the tune of a 1.57 ERA over 14 starts for the San Jose Giants and continued striking out batters at a high rate with 95 in 68.2 innings. 

But then, control issues hampered Crick, outweighing his high-90s fastball and ability to make batters whiff. He fell completely off prospect lists and saw plenty of other Giants pitchers leap him and make it to San Francisco. At one point, Crick even contemplated quitting. 

“When you are in those dark places and those tough spots, it’s hard to find the confidence,” Crick told the San Francisco Chronicle in March

Despite his struggles, the Giants’ front office still saw the potential in Crick and formed a new plan. Crick toyed with relief duties while also serving as a starter in 2015, but then started all 23 of his appearances the next year. Before the 2017 season, there was no more messing around. Crick is now a full-time reliever in Triple-A for the Sacramento River Cats, and as he’s able to rear back and fire his blazing fastball in no more than two innings at a time, he is thriving once again on the hill. 

Crick converted his fifth save of the season for the River Cats Thursday night in a 5-3 win over the Memphis Redbirds at Raley Field. With the game on the line, Crick didn’t make it easy loading the bases, but once again turned to his knack for the strikeout and struck out the side to preserve a River Cats victory. 

Over 16 games this season, all out of the bullpen, Crick is enjoying career reinventions. He owns an 0-1 record with a 3.20 ERA, his lowest since that eye-opening 2013 campaign. And Crick has struck out 28 batters in 19.2 innings pitched during the 2017 campaign. The power righty leads all Pacific Coast League relievers with his career-high 12.8 strikeouts per nine innings. 

Most importantly though, Crick’s control issues are long gone so far in his new role. 

Crick has only eight walks on the year. Just once, back on May 1, did he walk more than one batter in a game. From 2012-2016, Crick’s walks per nine innings went like so: 5.42, 5.11, 6.08, 9.43 and 5.53. As a reliever this season, that number has dropped down to a career-best 3.66. 

This is now Crick’s sixth full season in the minors and his first crack at Triple-A after three tries at Double-A. None of that matters. What does matter, is Crick’s young age of 24 and that the numbers show his confidence may finally be back.

In an age where we want everything right now, including top prospects performing in the bigs, the key to Crick’s potential may have been patience the whole time. 

Around The Horn

— Chris Shaw made his Triple-A debut for the River Cats. He went 1-for-4 including an RBI double and played left field. Here’s what Shaw had to say about his promotion: "It was exciting. That's definitely something that I was glad to hear and something that every player wants to hear. I'm getting a chance to play at the next level and get a step closer to the goal.”

— Jae-Gyun Hwang is swinging a hot bat the last two games in Sacramento. Hwang has five hits in his last nine at-bats with five RBI.

— Matt Krook, the Giants’ fourth-round pick last year, won his first game of the season in his eighth start for San Jose. The big lefty is seen as someone with huge upside but has struggled mightily with his control, walking 31 batters in 29 innings this year.