Gio Gonzalez
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Report: Gio González to opt out of contract with Yankees

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Yankees left-hander Gio González intends to opt out of his contract, per multiple reports from MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand and ESPN’s Jeff Passan. While the Yankees will have 48 hours to add González to the active roster after he does so, the prevailing expectation is that they’ll hand him his release instead.

González, 33, inked a minor-league deal with the team in mid-March, after which he had just enough time to log a single outing in spring training. He stands to earn a $3 million salary if the Yankees elect to add him to the 25-man roster, with additional bonuses of $300,000 pending each start he makes after that.

So far this season, however, the veteran southpaw has done little to inspire a call-up after pitching to mixed results in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He issued 10 runs, six walks, and 19 strikeouts over his first 15 innings in the minors, and missed his last chance to pitch for Scranton (and plead his case to the Yankees) after Friday’s game was rained out. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he then fired his agent, Scott Boras, and hired representation from CAA Baseball instead.

Still, it’s unlikely that this situation will turn out in González’s favor. There’s no doubt that he could boost his numbers to something resembling the 4.00-ERA, 2.0-fWAR results he produced for the Nationals and Brewers last year, but the Yankees are unlikely to take such an expensive gamble on the lefty right now, especially with a rotation that needs little improvement. According to FanGraphs, New York’s combo of James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ, CC Sabathia, and Domingo Germán currently ranks among the top 10 rotations in the majors with a cumulative 3.77 ERA and 2.0 fWAR — totals that González would be hard-pressed to improve on.

The Giants are winning but they’re still gonna sell

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The state of baseball in general, the state of the National League in particular and the state of the San Francisco Giants as a competitor are conspiring to create what seems like at least a mildly absurd situation.

The Giants, a veteran-laden team that, as recently as this past offseason but definitely within the past couple of years, were at least talking about being on a win-now footing, just swept a four-game series, have won five straight games and have won 12 of 14 to pull themselves to within two and a half games of a playoff spot.

Yet, that’s all for temporary show, because they’re about to sell off. At least according to Jeff Passan at ESPN. Giants president Farhan Zaidi tried to push back on that in a radio interview yesterday, denying that the club has foreclosed the possibility of a postseason push, but I’m not really buying that and I don’t think most people are.

On one level it makes sense to ignore the recent surge and forge on with a rebuild. Sure, the Giants are winning but they’re not exactly good. They’re two and a half out of the Wild Card, but there are many teams ahead of them. There’s a lot of reason to think that they’re playing in good fortune right now and that that, rather than finding some extra gear of sustainable better play, is what’s to credit. Hot streaks can happen at any time but the trade deadline only comes once a year. When you have the best starter available in Madison Bumgarner and the best reliever available in Will Smith, you gotta make those deals. That’s what I’d probably do if I ran the Giants and I think that that’s, wisely, what Zaidi will do.

Still, it’s an odd look, less for the Giants specifically than for baseball as a whole. We may in an era of cheap front offices who don’t like to contend if it means spending money, but it’s unfair to paint the Giants with that brush. They’ve spent money and acquired talent and have done whatever they can to extend their 2010-2014 mini-dynasty a few more years and in doing so they’ve made a lot of fans happy. That team has pretty much reached the end and, even in an earlier, more competitive era, they’d not be properly criticized for starting in on a rebuild. Heck, they’d be excused if they had done it a year or two earlier, frankly.

But, because so many teams have punted on improving themselves, these aging Giants are at least superficially competitive. As such, when they do sell off in the coming days, it’ll look to some like they’re waving a white flag or something when they’re not really doing that. I mean, the Rockies and the Pirates, among other teams, should be much better than they are but didn’t seem all that interested in improving, thereby helping the Giants look better, right? It’s less a knock on the Giants for rebuilding when they’re within striking distance of the playoffs than it is on the rest of the league for allowing a team like the Giants to be within striking distance of a playoff spot.

But that’s where we are right now. An insanely competitive Wild Card race from teams that, on the whole, are rather unconcerned with being competitive. What a time to be a baseball fan.