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Giants’ interest in Zobrist could intensify

SAN FRANCISCO — With Thursday’s Trade Deadline approaching, the Giants’ interest in acquiring Ben Zobrist from the Tampa Bay Rays could be deepening.

The Giants’ no-risk investment in second baseman Dan Uggla has appeared to be a no-reward venture so far. Uggla has gone hitless in eight at-bats spanning three games and committed two errors, including one that generated an unearned run, in Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the Dodgers.

With Marco Scutaro unable to play everyday due to his lingering back issues and Joe Panik experiencing a rookie’s growing pains, the Giants again may have to look elsewhere for help at second base. Landing Zobrist would end that search. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.com reported that the Giants had two scouts watching Zobrist this past weekend.

Zobrist also could help in the outfield if Angel Pagan’s recovery from a back ailment continues to stall.

– Chris Haft

Giants GM Sabean: No trade untouchables

OAKLAND — Giants general manager Brian Sabean is willing to consider all options — repeat, ALL options — when it comes to discussing deals as the Trade Deadline approachess. “We’ve told everybody that everybody we have is in play,” Sabean told the San Jose Mercury News. “There are no untouchables in our organization.”

However, Sabean doesn’t have a priority list. The Giants have so many possible needs — a reliever or two, second base, bench reinforcements, even another reliable starting pitcher to bolster the rotation — that he needs time to sift through the rubble of the team’s colossal slump to determine who to pursue first. It would help if the Giants could get a better read on the health of center fielder Angel Pagan and second baseman Marco Scutaro, who are striving to recover from their respective back injuries.

“They’re going to have to get well on their own first and play better first to give us a sense of what we really need and are able to try to do,” Sabean said. “… “Just a lot of areas where you need shoring up and obviously we’re not able to do that totally in the trade market.”

– Chris Haft

Expect Giants to add another starter soon

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants will acquire another starting pitcher soon, perhaps very soon. Exactly which one depends on who accepts their terms first.

The club is still talking with the representative for Ryan Vogelsong, trying to hammer out an agreement that could approach, match or even sweeten $6.5 million. That’s the value of the 2014 option the Giants declined, casting Vogelsong into free agency.

But, as Giants general manager Brian Sabean said earlier this week, the club has alternatives. San Francisco’s leading alternative to Vogelsong appears to be right-hander Dan Haren, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Since the Dodgers reportedly also are courting Haren, he has created a nice market for himself.

Additionally, Bronson Arroyo supposedly remains on the Giants’ radar.

The Giants still must find a proven hitter who can play left field or induce a position switch that enables an incumbent performer, such as Brandon Belt, to play left at least part-time. Sabean has indicated that this priority might take some time to fill.

The Giants already have signed free agent Tim Hudson and retained Hunter Pence, Tim Lincecum and Javier Lopez. If the Giants keep obtaining players at the current rate, Sabean and his assistants will be able to take a break at Disney World during next month’s Winter Meetings at Orlando.

Chris Haft

Deal between Giants, Lopez looks imminent

SAN FRANCISCO — Reliever Javier Lopez appeared destined to remain a Giant as various sources said Wednesday that the sides were close to agreeing to terms on a contract extension.<p/>

An industry source familiar with the negotiations told MLB.com that a deal was virtually done with Lopez, widely considered the top situational left-hander available in free agency. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports and Bay Area Sports Guy blogger Steve Berman reported that Lopez would receive a three-year contract.<p/>

Giants general manager Brian Sabean essentially acknowledged that the Giants and Lopez were near an accord. During Tuesday’s conference call to announce right-hander Tim Hudson’s two-year deal, Sabean said that the Giants were “fully engaged” with Lopez, adding, “Hopefully we’ll have him signed soon enough.”<p/>

Lopez, who was believed to have drawn interest from at least 10 teams, repeated toward the end of the regular season that he hoped to stick with the Giants, who acquired him from Pittsburgh at the 2010 Trade Deadline. Since then, Lopez has thrived, posting a 14-4 record with a 2.26 ERA in 236 appearances for San Francisco.<p/>

Lopez is coming off the best season of his 11-year career. He recorded a personal-best 1.83 ERA and led the National League by allowing only 10.5 percent (6-of-57) of his inherited baserunners to score.<p/>

The Giants have been among the Major Leagues’ most active teams. Lopez would be the third incumbent player they’ve signed since late September to prevent from fleeing through agency, joining right fielder Hunter Pence and right-hander Tim Lincecum. San Francisco also signed Hudson on Tuesday, adding perceived quality and depth to the starting rotation.

Chris Haft

Report: Vogelsong, Giants still talking

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants have informed right-hander Ryan Vogelsong that they won’t pick up the $6.5 million option on his 2014 contract, but the club is attempting to agree with him on a deal laced with performance bonuses, CSNBayArea.com reported.

The Giants were expected to make an announcement later Monday regarding the status of Vogelsong and potential free agent Javier Lopez, the club’s leading left-handed reliever in 2013.

Vogelsong posted a 27-16 record with a 3.05 ERA in 2011-2012 and was the team’s leading winner in the 2012 postseason (3-0). He slumped this year (4-6, 5.73) and encountered bad luck when he sustained a broken right hand resulting from being hit by a pitch from Washington’s Craig Stammen on May 20. Vogelsong also endured the physical erosion that struck almost every Giant who participated in the World Baseball Classic.

Chris Haft

SF likely to pick up Sabean, Bochy options

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It was a foregone conclusion that the Giants would exercise the 2014 options on the contracts of general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy. Those moves could occur as early as Tuesday afternoon, when club president and chief executive officer Larry Baer is expected to address the issue.

Given the Giants’ two World Series triumphs in the last three years, contract extensions for Sabean and Bochy would be within the realm of possibility.

Sabean, the longest-tenured GM in the Major Leagues, is entering his 17th season on the job. He has been the architect of teams that recorded a 1,392-1,199 record for a .537 winning percentage.

Bochy, who began managing the Giants in 2007 after 12 years as the skipper of the San Diego Padres, owns a 1,454-1,444 career record. He has steered teams to the postseason six times. Besides his pair of World Series appearances with the Giants, Bochy also reached the Fall Classic in 1998 with the Padres.

Together, Sabean and Bochy have helped the Giants record four consecutive winning seasons, the team’s longest such streak since 1997-2004.

– Chris Haft

Scutaro proving tough to sign; Evans, Slaughter honored

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Bobby Evans, the Giants’ vice president of baseball operations, hinted that competition for free-agent second baseman Marco Scutaro’s services could be more spirited than anticipated.

“He’s got versatility,” Evans said Monday, referring to Scutaro’s ability to play shortstop and third base as well, “and that gives him an additional market that some guys may not have.”

Observers assumed that Scutaro, 37, would settle for a two-year contract. But his breadth of skills, along with his .362 average in 61 games down the stretch for the Giants and that National League Championship Series MVP trophy he won, might be enough to earn him another year, or at least an option year.

“In Marco’s case, I wouldn’t rule out anything,” Evans said.

*****

At a ceremony here Monday, Evans received the Bowie Kuhn Baseball Chapel Award for his efforts to encourage spiritual efforts among the Giants. In addition, Staci Slaughter, the club’s senior vice president of communications, received the 2021 Robert O. Fishel Award for public relations excellence. She has been a member of the organization since 1996.

Chris Haft

Wilson a ‘Giant for life'; Pagan’s effect on Brown

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Bobby Evans, the Giants’ vice president of baseball operations, used some powerful language Monday to suggest that Brian Wilson ideally will always wear a San Francisco uniform.

Of course, whether Wilson views matters the same way remains to be seen.

The Giants declined to tender Wilson a 2013 contract last Friday. They didn’t want to pay him a minimum of $6.8 million, the minimum they could have offered him under terms of the Basic Agreement. Players’ salaries cannot be cut by more than 20 percent; the $6.8 million figure represented a 20 percent reduction from the $8.5 million Wilson earned in 2012.

To listen to Evans, Wilson’s value to the Giants is priceless.

“I think Brian’s a Giant for life, and he’ll hopefully be a guy who’ll consider coming back here as he evaluates his options,” Evans said, adding that the organization respected Wilson’s right to look elsewhere.

Added Evans, “He’s a commodity that’s hard to find. It’s hard to find guys built like him that have the mentality that he has that led to a lot of his success. So that’s going to be very interesting on the open market, injury aside. His makeup is part of what makes him successful.”

Manager Bruce Bochy, who personally contacted Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro to help the Giants’ efforts to keep both players, said that he would call Wilson soon in an attempt to convince him to stay.

Whatever happens with Wilson, Bochy declared that Sergio Romo would open next season as the Giants’ closer, barring drastic roster moves. “I’ll tell you (that) right now,” Bochy said, though he indicated that he might continue the closer-by-committee strategy he employed in Wilson’s absence. Santiago Casilla saved a team-high 25 games, and Bochy mentioned Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez as others who could lend support — as they did in 2012.

*****

So if Angel Pagan remains productive for the duration of his four-year contract, what happens to Gary Brown, the 2010 first-round draft choice who was billed as the Giants’ center fielder of the future?

Evans said that Brown, 24, remains highly regarded within the organization. “I don’t doubt Gary at all,” Evans said.

“The timing for him will be dictated more by him than it will be us.”

In other words, if Brown excels, the Giants will find a place for him somewhere in the outfield. He hit .279 with 33 stolen bases at Double-A Richmond this year and followed that by hitting .313 in 17 games for Scottsdale in the Arizona Fall League.

“I think Gary will put himself in the big leagues at the right time,” Evans said.

– Chris Haft

Giants poised to re-sign CF Pagan

The Giants appeared poised Monday to re-sign Angel Pagan, their leadoff hitter and center fielder who commanded ample attention as a free agent.<p/>

A Giants official said that a deal was done, pending the required physical examination. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports was the first to report that the Giants and Pagan were approaching an agreement.<p/>

Terms of the potential deal were not immediately announced, though Yahoo! Sports reported that Pagan received a four-year, $40 million package. B.J. Upton established the high end of the market for center fielders by signing a five-year, $75.25 million with the Atlanta Braves. Pagan, who at 31 is three years older than Upton and lacks his power, reportedly received a four-year offer from the Philadelphia Phillies.<p/>

A representative for another free-agent outfielder told MLB.com that the Giants were prepared to “bend over backwards” to retain Pagan, who they obtained during last year’s Winter Meetings from the New York Mets for outfielder Andres Torres and right-hander Ramon Ramirez.<p/>

Pagan hit .288 and recorded career bests in runs (95), doubles (38) and triples (15) during the regular season. The switch-hitter batted .188 and scored 10 runs in 16 postseason games as the Giants surged to their second World Series title in three years.

– Chris Haft

SF’s Otero relishes Opening Day experience

April 6

PHOENIX — As you might expect, Friday was a special time for Dan Otero.

This was officially Otero’s first day in the Major Leagues after spending five years in the Giants’ farm system. A 21st-round selection in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, the right-handed reliever reveled in his surroundings at Chase Field, where the Giants opened their season.

Asked how long he had yearned for this day, Otero replied, “Since I was about three years old and given a baseball glove for Christmas. This is what I dreamed about. This is awesome, just to be a part of this, to be on the Opening Day roster.”

Some players resist the romance of the game. Not Otero, who grasped Opening Day’s significance.

“I’m a huge baseball fan,” said Otero, a Miami-area native. “I love the history of the game. So, growing up, I’d watch as many games as I possibly could. Opening Day was one of my favorite days because I could watch 10 games on different channels, flip back and forth, from one o’clock until 11 o’clock. It was great. So to be a part of it now is almost surreal.”

Wearing jersey No. 87, Otero was the Giants’ last non-starter to be introduced during pregame ceremonies. He looked calm enough as he stood on the first-base line, but before the game he admitted that this would not be an ordinary ceremony.

“I’ll definitely have some goosebumps,” Otero said. “I’ll try to stay in the moment. I just want to remember it and enjoy it.”

Otero, 27, earned his big league chance with an outstanding Spring Training performance. He recorded a 0.82 ERA, surrendering one earned run in 11 innings spanning 10 appearances. Besides garnering his place on the active roster — which could be vulnerable when Ryan Vogelsong is ready to return from the disabled list — Otero won the Harry S. Jordan award, which is given annually to the most dedicated and spirited player attending his first Major League camp.

- Chris Haft

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