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.

What they're saying: 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame class

What they're saying: 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame class

The National Baseball Hall of Fame inducted Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez Wednesday. Here's what they and their peers are saying.

https://twitter.com/baseballhall/status/821855144681897988


Still on outside, Bonds, Clemens have become invaluable to Hall

Still on outside, Bonds, Clemens have become invaluable to Hall

The Baseball Hall of Fame becomes yesterday’s news Friday, as it always does. Three months of buildup, one day to announce the names, one day to castigate the voters for their willfully negligent slights, and then nine months of hibernation.

So much for the concept of “joining the immortals.”

But at least Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez never have to go through this annual pageant of nonsense again.

Barry Bonds does, though, and so does Roger Clemens, and to a lesser extent, so does Curt Schilling. They are the new litmus strips for the Hall, and they will more than replace Raines (voter ignorance division) and Bagwell (presumption of guilt with evidence division) for self-involved debate.

And in that adjusted role from doomed outsiders to serious candidates, Bonds and Clemens – and to a lesser extent again, Schilling – have become invaluable to the Hall, and their eventual election and induction will reduce the Hall’s ability to inflame passions outside the seamhead community.

On a day when Bagwell and Raines finally cleared the 75 percent threshold and Bonds and Clemens moved from 45 percent to 53.8 and 54.1 percent, respectively, the Hall of Fame Debating And Chowder Society saw the end times for its power as a multi-month debate-churner.

The blatherers are dead, long live the blatherers.

An entire mini-industry of Hall watchers has been spawned, in part by the now-feted Ryan Thibodaux and his exit polling but also by the debates about what the Hall should be and who should get to decide it. It has made days like Wednesday event viewing when it hadn’t been for years. For that, the Hall owes Bonds and Clemens a debt that the powers inside Major League Baseball wishes it didn’t have to pay. But the day they are inducted is the day that PEDs die as a debating point. The answer will have been provided, and there will be no more need for discussion.

Worse yet, the BBWAA’S new voter transparency rules may unfortunately impact our pal Thibodaux, whose seminal work in this understudied area of social science undermined ballot secrecy. In short, if everyone has to fess up, the desperate need to know early returns may dry up.

Oh, there will always be the day of post mortem-ization, as those who didn’t clear the threshold are subject to a few rounds of the popular parlor game, “Who Got Snubbed, And The Tedious And Half-Informed Reasons Why.”

For instance, the big debating point from today’s results will not be about Raines and Guerrero getting in, but what happened to the Bonds and Clemens votes. People have already postulated that a lot of the jump in their respective votes can be directly linked to Bud Selig’s election from the Veterans Committee. Voters who had previously ridden the Hall-as-temple argument suddenly lost their raison d’etre and realized that the PED problem was an industry matter rather than a greedy players’ matter.

In short, they saw Selig getting in as tacit approval that the PED issue was no longer a moral one in baseball but a cynical one, a way to blame labor for management’s culpability. That is an irony whose existence Selig will almost surely deny, but it’s there anyway, and it represents one more non-glacial change in a system that has been nearly immovable for most of its existence.

The next change, of course, may be removing the vote from the BBWAA and turning it over to a more malleable panel of “experts” who may not skew as young and values-neutral as the BBWAA of the future seems to be heading. That course may be hastened if/when Bonds and Clemens are elected, because halls of fame in their more traditional role have been more about rewarding friends and punishing enemies, and a large and shifting electorate makes that harder to accomplish.

The argument against such a course, though, is that the current system of three months of fevered public debate about the same old stuff works for the Hall’s sense of its importance. I mean, MLB Network and its fetish for shrill argument only has so much reach.

By Friday, though, all of this will revert to its typically inert state. Bonds, Clemens (ATALE Schilling), PEDs, morality, practicality, secrecy, old voter/young voter – all of it will fade back into insignificance.

And in a year or two or maybe three, Bonds and Clemens will wipe it all out by being included in the one club that we once knew would never tolerate their presence, and the Hall Of Fame’s Golden Age Of Shrieking Argument will end.

In a weird and largely unpleasant way, it will be missed.