How MLB's punishment of Astros will impact Giants' rebuild, draft picks

Alex Pavlovic

The Giants don't match up with the American League West in interleague play this season, and unlike their rivals across the bridge, they certainly don't have to worry about what the Astros look like for 162 games. 

But Monday's announcement of penalties for a cheating scheme that involved stealing signs will have a small impact on Farhan Zaidi's rebuild. The Astros were hammered by the commissioner's office, with GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch getting suspended through the end of the 2020 postseason and the organization being fined $5 million, the maximum allowed under the sport's rules.

They also were docked four draft picks, and that will move everyone else up, including the Giants, who have fortuitous timing. 

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MLB announced that the Astros will forfeit their first and second-round selections in 2020 and 2021, which means two picks ahead of the Giants' compensation picks have now been wiped off the board. The Giants made qualifying offers to Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith and got an extra draft pick when Smith signed with the Braves and another one when Bumgarner signed with the Diamondbacks. The Bumgarner pick now will be No. 68 overall and the Smith pick will be No. 69. 

The Giants already were picking well ahead of the Astros in the first two rounds. They will have the 13th pick in the first round and will choose in the second round at No. 49 overall. That's four picks in the top 69 -- plus the corresponding pool money -- for a team that's working on a rebuild. It'll be a big year for the team's amateur scouts. 

The rest of the punishment was announced by MLB on Monday morning and was first reported by The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal.

There is more on the way, too. MLB sent out an extraordinarily detailed release explaining how the Astros banged on a trash can -- occasionally with a massage gun -- and sometimes used a smartwatch or a hidden cell phone to transmit information.

Alex Cora, now the Red Sox manager, was mentioned repeatedly as being involved, and he will be punished at a later date.

[RELATED: Alguacil back to managing amid Giants' coaching changes]

For Giants fans, there are two more connections here. While Joe Espada wasn't mentioned in the release, this certainly would have been an awkward day for the organization if the former Astros coach had been hired instead of Gabe Kapler.

Espada will take over as acting manager in Houston after both Luhnow and Hinch were fired Monday, as owner Jim Crane wouldn't confirm whether the title would be on an interim or full-time basis going forward. 

Big picture, the cheating might have had an impact on the Giants' biggest rival in Los Angeles. The Astros beat the Dodgers in the 2017 World Series and Cora's Red Sox -- who currently are under investigation -- did the same in 2018. 

How MLB's punishment of Astros will impact Giants' rebuild, draft picks originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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