From Aaron Judge to Barry Bonds, Giants preparing for busy MLB Winter Meetings

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Everything to know as Giants prepare for busy MLB Winter Meetings originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN DIEGO -- It has been three years since executives, agents and the media gathered in one hotel for the annual MLB Winter Meetings, but the Texas Rangers weren't going to wait for everyone to arrive to get the fireworks started.

A year after locking up Corey Seager and Marcus Semien for half a billion dollars, the Rangers gave Jacob deGrom a five-year, $185 million deal to leave New York and become the new ace in Arlington.

That means the early winner of the offseason is none other than old friend Bruce Bochy, who un-retired because of the promise that the Rangers were all-in, then watched as his new bosses signed one of the most dominant arms in MLB history. The early loser? Any executive who thinks he's going to get a bargain over the next week.

The buzz in the lobby at the Manchester Grand Hyatt is that the sport is prepping for an insane week of action and big deals, and the Giants are expected to be right in the middle of it. "They've made it clear they're going to spend," an agent said Saturday night.

It was here in San Diego three years ago that the Giants signed Kevin Gausman and then made an unusual trade for Zack Cozart and Will Wilson. This time around, Farhan Zaidi is expected to go much, much bigger.

From the Aaron Judge chase to Hall of Fame announcements, this is a week that will be largely about the Giants. Here's what you need to know about what's to come:

What's Going On With Judge Watch?

It has been remarkably quiet with Judge since his two-day meeting at Oracle Park last week, but he is expected to make a decision this week, with the Yankees and Giants widely viewed as being in a dead heat.

Some in the industry still expect a last-minute mystery team, but so far there's been no sign of another serious suitor. Some Giants people expected the Dodgers to host Judge, as well, but if he made a trip to Los Angeles, he was very quiet about it.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Saturday that it likely will take nine years to secure Judge's signature, which would possibly put the final cost of the contract up around $340 million. That would be about twice what the Giants have ever spent on a player, but they remain involved.

What's Plan B?

Chairman Greg Johnson raised some eyebrows in September when he mentioned "the person who can hit in the Bronx that is out there," but the other part of that comment was just as interesting. "We're well aware of the shortstops," Johnson said.

The Giants have a shortstop, but they have shown plenty of interest in a loaded free agent class, hoping to pair one of them with Brandon Crawford in the final year of his contract. All four -- Carlos Correa, Trea Turner, Dansby Swanson and Xander Bogaerts -- are still on the board.

Correa, per sources, is atop the front office's list, and he certainly is the biggest star the Giants could sign if Judge returns to the Bronx. At 28 years old, he's a player the Giants could build future rosters around, and he has a good reputation as a clubhouse leader. The one mark on his resume is the Astros' sign-stealing scandal, but the Giants just hired a new GM that came from the same organization and their fans won't care about that scandal anyway. If anything, it cost the Dodgers a title.

Speaking of the Dodgers, Turner would bring an extra layer of buzz just because signing him would represent a direct blow to the division champs. As far as on-field ability, he's as good a fit as any player in this class.

Turner played second base when he was traded to a Dodgers team that had Seager at short, so he could play there alongside Crawford in 2023. He's 29 years old and one of the fastest players in the big leagues, so he seems a better bet to age gracefully than most of the other stars of this offseason.

What About The Pitchers?

The Giants have a Carlos Rodón-sized hole in their rotation, but the lefty is likely to find his healthy nine-figure deal elsewhere. The Rangers, Yankees and Mets are among the teams rumored to have interest, and Rodón is now viewed as likely to get a six-year deal for well over $150 million.

Under Zaidi and Co. the Giants have preferred to find pitchers with some red flags on their resumes and help them reach the next level on short-term deals. Jameson Taillon, Andrew Heaney and Sean Manaea are among the veterans who could be intriguing to Brian Bannister, Andrew Bailey and the rest of the staff.

The Giants have not been connected to Justin Verlander, but they did host Kodai Senga at Oracle Park last month. He's viewed as the fourth-best option in this class and rival evaluators view the Giants as one of the favorites to sign him.

"He's very talented, very physically talented," Zaidi said last month at the GM Meetings. "We've heard great things about the person, also. For us, now it's just evaluating and understanding where his market is going to be and for us to think about how we can help him be as good as he can be in the Major Leagues."

Senga throws 100 mph and has a good splitter, but he comes with some risk because of command issues and the transition from Japan. The Giants are very well-positioned to take that kind of risk, though. They have solid starting depth and Kyle Harrison waiting in the wings, so this would be the time to aim high.

What Other Names Do I Need To Know?

The Giants love to bring in guys with local ties and have interest in Mitch Haniger, an outfielder who reportedly has a very strong market. They also have checked in on former Dodger Cody Bellinger, per a source, knowing he would provide elite center field defense on the kind of one-year deal this front office loves.

As the dominoes start to fall, Brandon Nimmo could make a lot of sense. He's a high-OBP guy who plays above average defense in center, which would allow Mike Yastrzemski and Austin Slater to slide into the corners.

The most intriguing name is a familiar one. Trading Bryan Reynolds for Andrew McCutchen was one of the worst decisions the previous regime made. Now that Reynolds has asked for a trade, would the new front office put together a prospect package to bring the All-Star outfielder back to San Francisco? The price for Reynolds would be very high, but he’s a great fit for the Giants, with or without Judge.

What's The Rest of the Division Up To?

After non-tendering Bellinger, declining their option on Justin Turner and letting Trea Turner hit free agency, the Dodgers have the financial wiggle room to again make a splash. They haven't been as connected to Judge as most expected, but they're one of the favorites to sign Verlander.

The Padres are rumored to be in on the shortstop class, which would be a very weird move for a franchise that has Fernando Tatis Jr. coming back. But A.J. Preller loves to go big, so you can't count them out. The Diamondbacks are expected to trade one of their left-handed-hitting outfielders and would love to find someone to take on Madison Bumgarner's contract (no, it won't be the Giants).

Finally, the Rockies, who tend to be pretty quiet from an acquisition standpoint. They reportedly have interest in Nimmo, a Wyoming native.

What Else Should I Watch For?

The meetings themselves don't begin until Monday, but Giants fans will want to tune in Sunday night. The Contemporary Baseball Era Committee will meet during the day to discuss eight potential Hall of Famers, and if he gets 12 of the 16 votes, Barry Bonds will finally be headed to Cooperstown.

In a perfect world, Bonds will be joined next July by the man who called his most memorable homers. Duane Kuiper is a nominee for the Ford C. Frick Award and the winner will be announced Wednesday. In between those two announcements, on Monday, Bochy will host his first media session since getting deGrom. On Tuesday, Gabe Kapler addresses reporters.

Aside from the big signings and trades, there's plenty of other business to be done over the next four days. The Rule 5 Draft will be held Wednesday and the Giants have been active on that front since Zaidi took over. They also had to leave some good prospects unprotected, so they might lose a minor leaguer or two.

RELATED: Report: Winning Judge bid 'likely' to be nine-year contract

Finally, the first MLB Draft Lottery will take place Tuesday. Because they missed the playoffs, the Giants are technically eligible, but they have just a 0.48 percent chance of getting the top pick. They have much better odds of flying back up the coast with Judge than with the No. 1 overall pick.

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