Here’s some big (but somewhat expected) news out of San Francisco…
According to Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News, the Giants have informed top prospect Brandon Belt that he will open the year as the club’s starting first baseman. Aubrey Huff is going to move out to right field for the time being and the situation will be reevaluated once Cody Ross returns from his right calf strain.
Belt, 22, was rated baseball’s 22nd most promising prospect by Baseball America this winter after slugging 23 home runs and tallying 112 RBI across 136 minor league games last season.
He hit .282/.338/.479 with three home runs and five doubles in 71 at-bats this spring.
Giants skipper Bruce Bochy told Andrew Baggarly, also of the Mercury News, that Belt teared up upon getting the good word and called it the “best day of my life, besides my wedding.”
An interesting tidbit today from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who noted that ongoing talks between agent Scott Boras and the Padres have focused more on starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel than slugger Bryce Harper. Earlier this week, there were conflicting reports on the Padres’ level of interest in Harper — MLB Network’s Jon Heyman heard the club had not ruled out another big signing after getting Manny Machado, while Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune talked to multiple sources who believed otherwise — but any agreement between the two is looking unlikelier by the day.
As for Keuchel, Rosenthal cautions that a potential deal is still a “longshot,” especially as the team has other, cheaper options in mind. The 31-year-old southpaw turned down a qualifying offer from the Astros last year and is likely angling for something north of the five-year, $90 million contract extension he rejected from the club in 2016. He’s coming off of another solid performance in Houston, where he went 12-11 in 34 starts with a 3.74 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 6.7 SO/9, and 3.6 fWAR through 204 2/3 innings in 2018.
While Keuchel has failed to garner substantial interest around the league this offseason, Heyman points out that the Phillies are looking to establish themselves as frontrunners for the lefty — and they’re far less likely to have hang-ups about his asking price, too.