Giants sign pitcher Ramon Ortiz

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Giants sign pitcher Ramon Ortiz

The Giants tweeted Wednesday afternoon that they have invited 11-year-veteran right handed pitcher Ramon Ortiz to Spring Training:"SFGiants invite RHP Ramon Ortiz to Major League camp."

Ortiz, 39, pitched last season with the Chicago Cubs. He appeared in 22 games (two starts) and posted a 1-2 mark with a 4.86 ERA.

RELATED: Ramon Ortiz 2011 game logs
After spending his first six years with the Los Angeles Angels, he has spent the last five years with six different teams -- Cincinnati, Washington, Minnesota, Colorado, the Dodgers and the Cubs.Ortiz's best year was in 2002, when he went 15-9 with a 3.77 ERA. That season, he started against the Giants in Game 3 of the World Series and got the win with 5 IP, 5 H, 4 ER and 3 Ks. He gave up homers to Barry Bonds (shown) and Rich Aurilia in the Angels' 10-4 victory at then Pac Bell Park.

Giants expect to add veteran reliever Bryan Morris

Giants expect to add veteran reliever Bryan Morris

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Mark Melancon flew back to his Texas home after passing a physical Monday. He’s thousands of miles from the action at the Winter Meetings in Maryland, but for a minute Tuesday, he played the part of reporter. 

On a conference call to discuss a four-year, $62 million deal with the Giants, Melancon noted that he has talked to Bryan Morris about playing with the Giants. General manager Bobby Evans later confirmed that Morris, a right-handed reliever, will be in camp as a non-roster invitee, assuming their deal is finalized without any hiccups. 

The 29-year-old made 24 appearances for the Marlins last season, posting a 3.06 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in 17 2/3 innings. He had surgery in June to repair a herniated lumbar disk.

Morris has a 2.80 ERA in 211 big league appearances for the Marlins and Pirates, where Melancon was a teammate. He has a low strikeout rate, but he generally has done a good job of keeping the ball in the park and on the ground, two traits the Giants look for. Morris relied on a fastball, slider and cutter last season, with the fastball averaging 93-95 mph during his career. 

Evans said on Monday that any additions to the bullpen from here on out will likely be non-roster invitees who can try to win a big league job in Scottsdale.
 

Giants ready to give young players a shot in left field

Giants ready to give young players a shot in left field

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Bobby Evans kicked some big tires before giving a record deal to Mark Melancon, and he didn’t limit himself to the robust closer market. The Giants checked in on Yoenis Cespedes and they talked to the Pirates when it became clear that Andrew McCutchen was available. 

“You check in on everything,” Evans said. “You have to.”

Cespedes got $110 million to stay in New York and the Giants are no longer in any sort of mix for McCutchen, who comes with an overwhelming asking price. There are other big outfield names out there, but the Giants don’t expect to make a splash. The Melancon deal put the organization over the competitive balance tax, but even before that, the intention was to give Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker a shot to win the left field job next spring. 

“They’re not getting any younger and they deserve an opportunity,” Evans said. “But we also are not going to give them the jobs. They have to come out there and earn them and there will be competition and other options. There may be trade scenarios or other scenarios that allow us to bring in a guy that’s going to be hard to beat, but right now we just have to give them the opportunity if nothing develops. That's really how I look at it. 

“We’ve got to keep our doors open but an opportunity where they’re competing in the spring is a win for us. But ultimately they have to go out and prove it. Part of our organization being strong is giving young players a chance, and again when they get to be past 25 and 26 they’re not as young anymore, and these guys are getting older and they need that opportunity.”

In the lobby of the Gaylord National Resort here outside of Washington D.C., there is often skepticism that the Giants are being truthful. National reporters want to shoehorn them in as a fit for any slugger on the market. When Evans was at the GM Meetings in November, he was surrounded by New York reporters who thought the Giants represented the greatest outside threat for Cespedes. But executives from other teams have conceded that Evans and the rest of the front office have not been aggressively asking about outfielders. 

“You can’t lose sight that your (minor league) system is there for a reason,” Evans said.

Both young outfielders have shown flashes of what might be lurking. Parker hit .347 and slugged .755 in a September cameo in 2015 that included a memorable three-homer, seven-RBI game in Oakland. He had an uneven sophomore year, but still hit five homers in 127 at-bats, showing the front office that he could be a 20-homer guy if given a full-time shot. Williamson has batted just .222 while being pulled back and forth from Triple-A to the Majors, but he was highly thought of as a prospect and scouts marvel at his raw power. During a 26-game stretch before the trade deadline last year, Williamson posted a .277/.382/.538 slash line and hit five homers. 

Evans said others will be in the mix next spring, including Gorkys Hernandez (a likely replacement for speed/defense reserve Gregor Blanco), prospect Austin Slater, and Wynton Bernard, a 26-year-old career minor-leaguer who signed last month and is known for his speed. The Giants also are curious to see what they have in Chris Marrerro, a 28-year-old former top prospect who signed in November. He hit 23 homers last season in Triple-A. 

The Giants are open minded about adding as the market shapes out, and they can be patient now that the heavy lifting in the bullpen is done. There's a chance a power bat is still sitting there in late January, although those players traditionally have not chosen AT&T Park as a place to rebuild value. The price could dramatically drop for a player like Detroit's J.D. Martinez. 

The likelihood right now, though, is that Williamson or Parker starts in left field on opening day. If either sticks, it would be a huge boost for a front office that is trying to control costs in certain spots.

The Melancon deal, with an average annual value of $15.5 million, put the Giants into the tax for the third consecutive season. The penalty for that is a 50 percent tax for every dollar spent over the $195 million limit. The Giants have committed $313 million to free agents the past two offseasons, but that plan isn’t sustainable without the support of pre-arbitration players who are contributing at or just above the MLB minimum of $535,000. Buster Posey won an MVP award in 2012 while making $615,000. Joe Panik made $545,000 last year as a Gold Glove second baseman, and he'll continue to be a bargain this season. Until a pair of extensions, the Giants had Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford in the lineup for about the cost of a middle reliever. 

“When you’re invested (heavily) in the ‘pen, rotation, first base, shortstop, catcher, right field, center field — at some point, you’re going to need your farm system to rise up,” Evans said. 

The Giants hope Williamson and Parker can do that.

“The final stage of development comes at the big leagues,” Evans said. “Until they get those at-bats, you’ll always wonder.”