Jose Valverde might burn the Astros

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Offering arbitration is a gamble. Offer it to a guy you don’t want to keep in order to gain picks and you might just end up paying that guy anyway:

Free-agent reliever Jose Valverde could accept the Astros’ offer of
salary arbitration by Monday’s midnight ET deadline, according to
major-league sources.

The return of Valverde would eliminate the Astros’ need for a closer.

But it also could be a $10 million hit for a team with limited payroll flexibility.

A team in Houston’s position (i.e. still denying that they’re rebuilding but rebuilding all the same) doesn’t need a big money closer. Being forced to pay Valverde eight or even high seven figures would really hamper Houston.

But Valverde is no idiot. He knows how many closers and setup men are out there on the market right now. What is he, the fifth best option for some teams? Sixth? The open market could be a pretty scary place for a guy like him this winter.

We’ll know whether this comes to pass — or whether any other unexpected arb acceptances happen — by midnight tonight.  If you we see Ed Wade in the hotel bar with his head hanging low over a tall glass of Old Granddad, we’ll know what happened.

Giants nearing deal with Cameron Maybin

Cameron Maybin
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The Giants are finalizing a minor league deal for free agent outfielder Cameron Maybin, according to Andrew Baggarly and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The team has not confirmed the signing, but it’s in keeping with their stated goal of adding more veteran presence and outfield options to their roster in advance of the 2019 season.

Maybin, 31, appeared in back-to-back gigs with the Marlins and Mariners in 2018. He slashed an underwhelming .249/.326/.336 with four home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 15 chances), a .662 OPS, and 0.5 fWAR through 384 plate appearances for the two clubs, a clear improvement over his totals in 2017 but still shy of the career numbers he posted with the Padres all the way back in 2011. It’s not only his offense that has tanked, but his speed and defense in center field, all of which he’ll try to improve as he jockeys for a roster spot in camp this month.

The Giants’ outfield has been largely depleted of any kind of consistent talent lately, especially taking into account the recent departures of Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, and Gorkys Hernández. Even with the acquisition of, say, All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper, there’s nothing standing in the way of Maybin and fellow veteran signee Gerardo Parra grabbing hold of full- or part-time roles this year, though they’ll need to outperform candidates like Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar, Drew Ferguson, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Craig Gentry, Mike Gerber, and others first.

In a previous report on Friday, Baggarly revealed that a “handshake understanding” had been established with several veteran players already this offseason, all but guaranteeing them regular starting opportunities over the course of the season. How those agreements will be affected by spring training performances remains to be seen, but at least for now, the Giants appear prepared to give their newest players a long leash as they try to get back on top in the NL West.