SAN DIEGO (AP)Farhan Zaidi got a text message from Aaron Judge’s representatives early Wednesday morning. And just like that, it was over.
It was time to move on.
With Judge returning to the New York Yankees on a $360 million, nine-year contract, the San Francisco Giants are mulling over their next move after they missed the playoffs this year.
”We always knew this was a possible outcome, and so we’ve done a lot of work on our other options,” said Zaidi, the team’s president of baseball operations.
”We’ll kind of re-evaluate our board and still looking for ways to improve the next team.”
San Diego also met with Judge before he went back to New York, and the Padres quickly jumped on another bat – reeling in All-Star shortstop Xander Bogaerts with a blockbuster $280 million, 11-year contract.
Zaidi is keeping his cards close to his vest, but there remained plenty of intriguing possibilities on the market as baseball’s winter meetings concluded on Wednesday.
All-Star shortstops Carlos Correa and Dansby Swanson are free agents, along with left-hander Carlos Rodon after his terrific year for Giants. Speedy center fielder Brandon Nimmo could be a nice fit for San Francisco’s expansive outfield at Oracle Park.
”We have the support of ownership, but we’re not being mandated to get to a certain level payroll-wise,” Zaidi said. ”We have the flexibility to do that if the opportunities are right.”
Judge’s contract – baseball’s biggest free agent deal ever – dominated the conversation at the winter meetings Wednesday, but catcher Willson Contreras and pitchers Jameson Taillon, Jose Quintana and Kenley Jansen all joined new teams, and the Philadelphia Phillies took U.S. Navy aviator Noah Song in the Rule 5 draft.
Taillon joined the Chicago Cubs, agreeing to a four-year contract that is worth roughly $68 million. A person familiar with the negotiations confirmed the deal to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it was pending a physical.
The Cubs haven’t formally announced the move, but President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer said the team has been looking at Taillon for a long time.
”I think he’s a really good starting pitcher,” Hoyer said. ”He’s been really consistent.”
Contreras left the Cubs for NL Central rival St. Louis, which had a need at catcher after Yadier Molina retired. A person familiar with Contreras’ $87.5 million, five-year contract confirmed the move to The AP on condition of anonymity because the deal was pending a physical.
Quintana agreed to a $26 million, two-year contract with the New York Mets, adding another veteran arm to the team’s rotation. Another person familiar with the negotiations confirmed the move to The AP on condition of anonymity because the deal was pending a physical.
The Mets also finalized its two-year contract with ace right-hander Justin Verlander, worth $86.7 million. There also is a vesting option for 2025.
”Justin Verlander is, by every standard, one of the game’s most accomplished players,” general manager Billy Eppler said.
Jansen left Atlanta for Boston, agreeing to a $32 million, two-year deal with the Red Sox. A person familiar with the deal confirmed the move to The AP on condition of anonymity because the agreement was pending a physical.
Jansen led the National League with 41 saves this season. The Braves then shored up their bullpen by acquiring Joe Jimenez in a trade with the Detroit Tigers.
Judge, who hit an AL-record 62 homers for the Yankees last season, will earn $40 million per year, the highest average annual payout for a position player. A person familiar with the deal confirmed the move to The AP on condition of anonymity because the AL MVP’s contract had not been publicly announced.
The Northern California native visited with the Giants last month, and he also met with the Padres in the last few days.
”From an organizational standpoint, we’re disappointed,” Zaidi said. ”But I think from the standpoint of the industry, you’ve got a great player and a great franchise who’s got a chance to be there his entire career, and I think there’s a lot of good in that for the game.
”That was a pretty strong force that we were up against.”
San Diego remains one of baseball’s biggest wild cards, also meeting with Trea Turner before the All-Star shortstop agreed to a $300 million, 11-year contract with Philadelphia. The Padres reached the NL Championship Series this year before losing to the Phillies.
A person familiar with the Bogaerts negotiations confirmed the contract to The AP on condition of anonymity because it was pending a physical.
The Padres already had Fernando Tatis Jr. at shortstop, but he missed the entire season because of injuries and an 80-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
”From our standpoint, you want to explore and make sure we’re looking at every possible opportunity to get better,” general manager A.J. Preller said before the Bogaerts deal surfaced. ”We’ve got a real desire to win and do it for a long time.”
Judge was selected by New York in the first round of the 2013 amateur draft and made his big league debut in 2016, homering in his first at-bat. The four-time All-Star has 220 homers and 497 RBIs in seven big league seasons.
New York general manager Brian Cashman declined to confirm the agreement. But he said he was ”optimistic that we’re in a good place,” and he credited Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner for the team’s position.
”The hope is that (Steinbrenner) is the Mariano Rivera of these negotiations and was able to close something out, put us in a great position,” Cashman said. ”But I can’t officially say that’s happened just yet.”
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.
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