Andrew Friedman officially turns down the Astros

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Andrew Friedman officially withdrew his name from consideration for the Astros’ general manager search yesterday, releasing a statement that said he “chose not to be a part of the Astros’ process” and “it is in no way a reflection on the Houston organization.”

Saying “it is in no way a reflection of the Houston organization” might be a stretch, but the Astros aren’t the first team Friedman has turned down and various sources seem to agree that his strong relationship with the Rays’ ownership is what’s keeping him in Tampa Bay.

Friedman was obviously Houston’s first choice, but he was always an extremely long shot and the bigger problem for the Astros is that several of their other top targets have also turned them down for interviews. However, according to Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle they’ve moved on from those rejections to interview “a half-dozen candidates … with the team looking largely at the pool of those with scouting and player development experience.”

In the meantime interim general manager David Gottfried is said to have full authority to make moves and he’s expected to, at the very least, try to unload Carlos Lee’s contract and perhaps find a taker for Wandy Rodriguez.

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.