Welcome to hot stove season. The San Francisco Giants kicked theirs off with a nice bang when they stole manager Bob Melvin away from division rivals the San Diego Padres in late October. Things have quieted down since then, but we're just getting started. Winter Meetings, the epicenter of offseason activity, are just around the corner, and the Giants have a lot to do.
Last year, they were at the center of the biggest concern of the 2022 offseason: where would Aaron Judge end up? This year, they might be big players in a discussion surrounding an even bigger free agent. Here are the basics of the Giants' trip to the Winter Meetings this year.
What are the Winter Meetings?
The Winter Meetings are an annual gathering of Major League Baseball's owners, executives, managers, agents, and so on who come together to negotiate trades, sign free agents, and generally get their teams into more solid shapes ahead of the coming season. These meetings are the centerpiece of every offseason, where some of the most famous (or infamous, depending on your perspective) transactions and signings have taken place. (For the Giants, the most famous Winter Meetings move they've pulled off is signing Barry Bonds in 1992). This year, Winter Meetings will be held from Dec. 3 - 6 in Nashville, TN.
What could the SF Giants do at Winter Meetings?
Although some recent chatter suggests that Shohei Ohtani might sign with a new team ahead of the Winter Meetings this year, the Giants will be all over him (probably by proxy, through his agent Nez Balelo) in Nashville if that doesn't turn out to be true. The Giants have been attached to Ohtani's free agency for months, before the regular season had even ended. Despite many names being thrown into the ring since then — the Rangers, the Braves — the Giants are still thought of as frontrunners in the Ohtani showdown.
Last year, San Francisco narrowly missed out on signing Aaron 'Arson' Judge, and they'll do all they can to avoid the same embarrassment. True, the competition for Judge was less fierce, but the staying power of the Giants' name in the Ohtani discussion should count for something.
The Giants should also be on the lookout for a shortstop to give them some depth there after the loss of Brandon Crawford, starting pitching to make up for Alex Cobb's injury-ruined 2024, and a backup option designated hitter to replace Joc Pederson, in the event that they don't get Ohtani.
Rule 5 draft
The Rule 5 draft, made up of minor leaguers with 4-5 years of service time, also takes place during the Winter Meetings. Only teams without a full 40-man roster participate; as of writing, the Giants have four open spots and a farm system that could use some more top infield talent, although most of the guys that are picked in the Rule 5 are typically pitchers.
MLB Draft lottery
The second MLB Draft lottery, wherein the 18 non-playoff teams will draw to determine draft order in 2024, will also take place during Winter Meetings. The Giants have a 1% chance of drawing first position, up a smidge from their 0.5% last year. They picked 16th in the 2023 draft, but will probably move up a few places for next year's draft.