The Giants sadly announced on Wednesday that Giants Hall of Fame first baseman Willie McCovey has died at the age of 80 after a battle with ongoing health issues. According to Steve Kroner and John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, McCovey battled a serious infection that nearly killed him four years ago and recently developed another one which hospitalized him last week.
McCovey played 22 seasons in the majors, 19 of which were with the Giants. He spent another two and a half with the Padres and had a brief stint with the Athletics. He retired batting .270/.374/.515 with 521 home runs and 1,555 RBI in 2,588 games. Currently, he is tied for 20th place on the all-time home run leaderboard with Frank Thomas and Ted Williams.
Along with being a Hall of Famer, McCovey won the 1959 NL Rookie of the Year Award, made the All-Star team six times and won the All-Star MVP award in 1969, and won the NL MVP Award in ’69 as well.
The Giants never won a World Series during McCovey’s career, but he helped bring them close in 1962 when the Giants lost the World Series in seven games to the Yankees. McCovey’s No. 44 was retired by the Giants and they unofficially named the area beyond the right field wall at AT&T Park “McCovey Cove.” McCovey also has a statue at China Basin Park, which is on the other side of the cove.
The Yankees appear to have moved on from free agent Manny Machado this winter, but could they be turning their attention to Rockies superstar Nolan Arenado? That’s the idea floated by Andy Martino of SNY, who hears that GM Brian Cashman has been involved in recent discussions concerning the third baseman. No official comments have been made to the press yet, though, and it’s not clear whether the Yankees would prefer to pursue Arenado prior to the 2019 season or partway through it.
The 27-year-old infielder earned his fourth consecutive All-Star nomination, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove award in 2018 after slashing .297/.374/.561 with 38 home runs, a .935 OPS, and 5.7 fWAR across 673 plate appearances. There’s no question he’s provided immense value to Colorado’s lineup over the last half-decade, and his consistency and incredible power at the plate helped form the basis of the record $30 million arbitration figure he presented to the team last week. The Rockies countered at $24 million, however, and in doing so may have jeopardized their chances of convincing the infielder to forego free agency in 2020 and take a long-term deal instead.
Assuming he declines to negotiate an extension with the Rockies, Arenado’s decorated résumé and career-best 2018 numbers should attract plenty of interest around the league — a reality that could put considerable pressure on the Yankees (or any other interested party) to finesse a deal sooner rather than later. For now, the club is prepared to enter the 2019 season with hot-hitting third baseman Miguel Andújar, whom Martino speculates would be the “centerpiece” of any trade with Colorado.