Baseball would not really be back unless the Giants and Yasiel Puig were being linked and half of San Francisco was pulling its (long quarantine) hair out.
Minutes after the Players Association announced it has met MLB’s stipulations and would be reporting to camp July 1, CBS Sports, citing sources close to the Giants front office, reported the Giants would be among the contenders for Puig once the transaction freeze is lifted. Teams can begin making moves again Friday ahead of next Wednesday’s report day for summer training.
The strange dance between the Giants and Puig has gone on through the entire free-agency period, the Giants often linked with the polarizing outfielder whom Farhan Zaidi had in Los Angeles, though the two sides have not consummated a deal. Baseball reporter Francys Romero tweeted April 26 — during the transaction freeze — that Puig and San Francisco were close on a contract that would be completed once clubs could make deals again.
Manager Gabe Kapler appeared to shoot down that report, though, pointing out on KNBR that no beat writer who follows the team ran with the story.
Last week, Zaidi signaled that the Giants like their in-house candidates — Darin Ruf, Pablo Sandoval, Hunter Pence — as the NL was preparing to embrace the designated-hitter, and he did not foresee a free-agent pickup to address the spot.
It’s possible Zaidi had an outfield spot in mind for Puig instead. As it stands, the Giants have Pence and Alex Dickerson platooning in left, a center-field revolving door of Billy Hamilton, Mike Yastrzemski, Mauricio Dubon and perhaps Jaylin Davis, while the latter three and Austin Slater would be in the mix for right-field at-bats.
The Giants non-tendered Kevin Pillar because they wanted to get their younger players more at-bats. Perhaps that mindset has changed now that a 162-game season is a 60-game season, and development is less crucial than winning ballgames.