Runs? Who needs ’em? After all, the Giants are in first place now despite having the NL’s worst offense.
Speaking out prior to Friday’s game, Giants GM Brian Sabean said that he hasn’t made any inquiries about finding a replacement for Buster Posey and manager Bruce Bochy stated that the newly recalled Brandon Belt would be a bench player.
From the San Francisco Chronicle’s Hank Schulman comes word the Giants have heard from teams willing to part with a catcher. However, Sabean said that he wants to give Eli Whiteside a chance to take over as a regular for now. He hasn’t inquired about any possible replacements, such as Ivan Rodriguez or Ryan Doumit.
As for Belt, an obvious candidate to provide some sock out of the cleanup spot with Posey absent, Bochy said he’d see some time at first base and in the outfield, but that he’d mostly come off the bench and appear in games as a result of double-switches.
Belt hit .337/.470/.525 with four homers in 31 games after being demoted to Triple-A Fresno. He was teeing off on right-handed pitching, batting .378/.515/.581. It suggests that he’d make a great platoonmate for the right-handed-hitting Pat Burrell in left field.
The Giants, though, have been primarily going with a defense-first alignment and putting Nate Schierholtz in right field, with Cody Ross playing left. It’s worked out OK, since Schierholtz has exceeded expectations by hitting .256/.309/.456. Ross, though, is hitting just .215/.271/.337. In all, Giants outfielders are hitting .254/.331/.391 with a mere 55 RBI in 561 at-bats. That might make it worth sacrificing some defense to get Belt’s bat in there.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.