Aaron Judge, free agents highlight ‘big’ Giants off-season, says Farhan Zaidi

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Zaidi Explains Why Giants Have ‘Big Off-Season’ Ahead, Originally Appeared On NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO — Farhan Zaidi sat with reporters for about 15 minutes on Monday after the Giants announced an extra time for Wilmer Flores, and at the very end of the session he was asked a question about “the big guy in New York.” The Giants baseball operations president leaned against the back wall of the dugout and laughed.

“Isn’t it a little early to ask?” he joked.

Not for Giants fans. For most, the pivot to the off-season started about mid-season, and for the rest, the 2022 season was set aside at the end of August.

The crush on Aaron Judge goes back much further than that. For a few years, he loomed as the most obvious free-agent target for the Giants, the team he grew up for, and that speculation has grown since Judge turned down a lucrative season extension and cleverly bet on himself.

Zaidi knows that this off-season Judge will be way ahead of the pack in terms of players he will be asked about, and there is already a lot of discussion and speculation from players and team staff. But with the Giants still finishing their regular season and Judge hoping to lead the Yankees through a World Series run, now is not the time to give details.

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Instead, Zaidi stuck to what he has said many times over the past year, that this will be a big outdoor season for the organization.

“Without talking about specific players, I’ve used the word transition a lot over the years and that’s kind of been the state of our roster,” Zaidi said. “I always felt like the last season was off-season and this off-season would be a big off-season for us in terms of shaping the future of the club and what the roster looks like. That remains the case and it’s going to be a big one. off-season for us.”

“We have salary leeway because we are a big market and we have contracts expiring this low season so there will be a lot of good options for us. We’re not going to hook anyone (player) be it through free brokerage or trade. I think that we look for improvement.”

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That has generally been the method for a front office that likes to throw a wide net and stay in every discussion until the end. The Giants never close the door on a chase, something they especially showed in 2019 when they became a late suitor for Bryce Harper.

The hunt for the judge will be similar in terms of star power, but much more difficult for suitors not rooted in New York. It’s hard to imagine the Yankees letting the likely American League MVP end up anywhere else, no matter the cost.

Aside from Judge, the free agent class will feature plenty of star power, from pitchers like Jacob deGrom and Clayton Kershaw to All-Star shortstops like Trea Turner, Dansby Swanson, and — probably — Carlos Correa and Xander Bogaerts. Some of the biggest names are the current Giants that the organization hopes to keep.

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Carlos Rodón could land the biggest deal of any free agent pitcher after putting down Cy Young-esque numbers in his first season in San Francisco. The Giants can also bring Joc Pederson back, and they have to make decisions about Evan Longoria and Brandon Belt.

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Whatever happens to Judge, there’s a… lot work to be done this off season. A year after winning the NL West title, the Giants will enter the series this weekend against the Dodgers with a game deficit of 29 1/2. It will be quite a climb for a club of 69-74 to finish at 0.500 this season.

“Obviously the way this season has gone is not acceptable to any of us,” Zaidi said. “We see ourselves as a team that should be in the play-offs every year at the moment. We will be motivated to look for ways to improve.”

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