San Francisco Giants: Playing Fact or Fiction with the Latest Rumors

Mark Reynolds@@markreynolds33Correspondent IIJanuary 31, 2013

Don't bet on Wilson returning to the Giants.
Don't bet on Wilson returning to the Giants.Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The latest rumors surrounding the San Francisco Giants deal with free agents Brian Wilson, Ryan Theriot, Brandon Lyon and star catcher Buster Posey.

My guess with the latest Giants rumors is that Wilson and Theriot will end up elsewhere, Lyon will sign with the Giants and Posey will receive a massive contract extension before the end of spring training.

The starting lineup and the rotation are basically set for next season. The Giants have also brought in plenty of players to compete for the remaining spots on the bench by signing Wilson Valdez, Kensuke Tenaka, Cole Gillespie and Guillermo Quiroz to minor league contracts. Thus, the bullpen is the main area of focus right now.

It appears that Wilson's storied career as a Giant is over. General manager Brian Sabean told the New York Post that he doesn't believe Wilson will return to the Giants.

“I’m going to be brutally honest as I always am, I don’t [think Wilson will return]...In this case, where you are getting a second Tommy John…it’s the type of rehab where he’s still not further up along to judge exactly where he may be able to come back in major league fashion, let alone as a closer...It’s one of those things where it’s very difficult trying to change somebody’s mind, being [Wilson’s], in that the organization owes him, and we do owe him a debt of gratitude, but this is a tough business and we certainly have to be financially responsible."

Meanwhile, Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area reported that the Giants were in deep discussions with Lyon to fill the final spot in the bullpen.

Baggarly reported that negotiations with Lyon were put on hold while the team settled its arbitration cases. Since then, all of the Giants' arbitration eligible players have settled—with the exception of closer Sergio Romo. Once the Giants settle Romo's case, they should turn their attention back to Lyon.

While Giants' vice president Bobby Evans told Baggarly that signing Lyon wasn't a sure thing, he does seem to be a perfect fit—especially with Wilson's likely departure.

Lyon, 33, is coming off of arguably his best season in 2012 with the Astros and Blue Jays, who acquired him in a mid-season trade. In 61 innings, he struck out a career high 63 hitters against just 20 walks en route to a 3.10 ERA.

The bet here is that Lyon will end up signing with the Giants, and Wilson will end up having to settle for a minor league deal elsewhere.

One rumor not related to the bullpen is the status of free agent infielder Ryan Theriot. According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Giants are one of four teams pursuing Theriot.

While it is clearly fact that the Giants are pursuing Theriot, it is likely fiction that he ends up back with the Giants. The Indians—one of the four teams pursuing Theriot—appear to be the best fit for his services.

Theriot's strength is his ability to hit left-handed pitching. He's hit .289 over the last three seasons against lefties, compared to .262 against righties.

The Indians have two left-handed hitting starters on their infield with Jason Kipnis at second base and Lonnie Chisenhall at third base. The Giants, on the other hand, have the switch-hitting Pablo Sandoval at third base and the right-handed hitting Marco Scuato at second base.

Shortstop is also full for the Giants with the platoon of Brandon Crawford and Joaquin Arias returning. Even if the Giants had an opening at shortstop, Theriot didn't play any innings at the position in 2012.

Thus, Theriot's best opportunity for extended playing time would be to sign with the Indians to spell their two left-handed hitting infielders. If he were to re-sign with the Giants, he would have to hold off Valdez and Tanaka for a roster spot. If he did make the team, he'd be buried behind Scutaro at second base.

The last of the latest rumors surrounding the Giants is the status of their franchise player, Posey. The Giants and Posey already agreed to an $8 million deal for 2013, and the team will control him through 2016 via arbitration. However, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported recently that both sides are open to a long-term contract extension that will keep Posey in San Francisco beyond 2016.

Last spring, the Giants agreed to long-term contract extensions with starting pitchers Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner. Extending Posey before opening day will prevent his status from becoming a distraction once the season starts, just as extending Cain and Bumgarner did last season.

Rosenthal speculates that a seven-year, $120 million deal would be a reasonable contract extension for Posey. The bet here is that Posey and the Giants will reach an agreement on a long-term deal before the end of spring training, and the contract will be slightly less than the six-year, $127.5 million deal the Giants awarded to Cain last spring.

With pitchers and catchers set to report in less than two weeks, the winter rumors are settling down. Soon enough, fans will have real baseball to talk about instead of roster construction.

Until then, expect Lyon to end up with the Giants and Posey to get locked up, but don't hold your breath on the returns of Wilson and Theriot.


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