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SF Giants connected to Cody Bellinger, Kenley Jansen in free agency

After the Giants signed Joc Pederson last spring, Farhan Zaidi sat down on the bench inside the dugout at Scottsdale Stadium and started talking about his latest acquisition. “That’s cool,” he began, “I mean, for me personally, I go way back with him.”

A year later, the Giants and the hometown slugger extended their marriage. But for Zaidi, their relationship dates back to their Dodger days. And with free agency underway, the Giants have already been linked to two other former Dodgers.

Free agent outfielder Cody Bellinger and reliever Kenley Jansen are said to be two of the club’s targets this offseason. Bellinger, 27, was NL Rookie of the Year in 2017 and MVP in 2019, but was not featured by the Dodgers. Jansen, 35, signed with Atlanta last offseason and saved 41 games but posted the second-highest ERA of his career.

Still, both players could fit well into the Giants roster next season.

There was a lot of speculation ahead of last week’s no-bid deadline that the Dodgers could sever ties with Bellinger, who not long ago was considered one of their best local successes. He hit 47 homers with a 1.035 OPS during his MVP season at age 23, but he’s hit 41 homers with a .648 OPS in the three seasons since.

While the Dodgers scoffed at the $18 million-plus they owed him through arbitration, Bellinger was still their center back despite his offensive struggles, for the same reason that should make him attractive to the Giants: his glove.

If the eyesight test wasn’t enough, the metrics were almost unanimous: the Giants outfield ranked last in defensive runs saved (-44), tied for last in strikeouts above average (-25) and penultimate in the ultimate zone. score (-21.8).

Bellinger also won the Gold Glove during this MVP campaign. Adding a center fielder like him — or Brandon Nimmo, who the Giants have also reached out to, according to the San Francisco Chronicle — allows them to move Mike Yastrzemski and Austin Slater to a corner, where Yastrzemski was a runner-up in the Gold Glove in 2021.

“Yaz is a really solid center back and he’s done a good job for us, but he’s a Golden Glove caliber corner fielder,” Zaidi said at the end of the season. “It’s an example of a case where if you add someone in the middle, it has a chance to improve you two or three positions. This will be the goal. »

Bellinger agent Scott Boras attributed his offensive shortcomings to a shoulder injury and believes he will continue to grow in strength. Because of this, Boras is also reportedly on the hunt for a one-year contract for his client, one of the youngest in the free agent market who could still enjoy a big payday with a bounce-back season. .

Zaidi also said the Giants would be “opportunistic” adding to a bullpen that already began to reconfigure late last season.

Although they were reluctant to declare a closer official, Camilo Doval seemed to be pretty entrenched in the role, especially after adding a third pitch and even more speed to his radiator. Tyler Rogers, John Brebbia and Scott Alexander will also return, but they could be used in low-leverage situations if the Giants add a top reliever like Jansen, who spent the first 12 years of his career with the Dodgers ( 2.37 ERA, 350 saves).

According SportsNetLA’s David Vassegh, Jansen and the Giants were discussing a two-year contract. He earned $16 million last season. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi was the first to report the mutual interest between the parties.

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No wonder the Giants and Dodgers have made just three trades — none since 2007 — since moving to California nearly 70 years ago. However, there have been more than a few players who have worn both uniforms.

Some of the most notable names in recent history: Jeff Kent, Jason Schmidt and Juan Uribe, all of whom were Giants before donning Dodger blue. The group also includes current KNBR host FP Santangelo, who went straight from San Francisco to Los Angeles after the 1999 season. Even Juan Marichal and Orel Hershiser swapped shirts late in their careers. And of course there’s this year’s World Series-winning manager, Dusty Baker, who was best known as a player in Los Angeles before making his debut as a skipper in San Francisco.

In addition to Pederson, the Giants got 26 starts and 17 relief appearances last season from former Los Angeles players of the Zaidi era, Alex Wood and Scott Alexander. Jake McGee did the opposite of Santangelo, going straight from the Dodgers’ bullpen to the Giants’ bullpen before being nominated for an assignment last season.

Could Bellinger or Jansen – or Trea Turner – become the next players to add their names to the list?

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Whether it’s Bellinger or Nimmo or their white whale, Aaron Judge, the Giants seem determined to sign an outfielder. A possible plan B: Mitch Haniger, who was limited to 57 games last season, but was effective in good health for five seasons in Seattle (an OPS of .817).

The Giants are one of four teams, including the Dodgers, with a reported interest in the 32-year-old, who has played mostly right-court during his career. Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal first signaled interest from the Giants.

Haniger, a graduate of Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, would also join a growing list of Bay Area natives to return home and play for the Giants, including Pederson (Palo Alto) and Alexander (Santa Rosa).

Fun fact: You can find Haniger’s name on a brick behind home plate at Archbishop Mitty’s baseball field. Maybe with a free agent contract in hand, he’ll donate big enough for the full naming rights.

California Daily Newspapers

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