SAN FRANCISCO — Brandon Belt flew to Florida two years ago for an arbitration hearing that was avoided when the two sides struck a deal late at night. This time around, Belt came even closer to the hearing room.
The first baseman said Friday that he and the Giants agreed to a $6.2 million deal about 45 minutes before a hearing was supposed to start on Wednesday. The Giants hope the deal paves the way for the two sides to again pick up talks on a long-term deal, and Belt said he expects discussions during spring training.
“I would like to stay,” he said. “But at the same time there’s a business side.”
Belt and the Giants were far apart when they filed arbitration numbers, but that doesn’t have to be a sign that the gap on a long-term agreement is too large to bridge. Belt said he trusted his agents during the process, pointing out that there’s “a lot of strategy that goes into” the filing number. He said the two sides mostly discussed a one-year pact that would avoid arbitration, and vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean said that this deal should give the sides some common ground as they try and hammer out a multi-year extension.
“We ended up in a spot that can help both sides have a conversation,” he said.
Belt has one more year of arbitration remaining, so the Giants have plenty of time to try and get something done. Players like to test the market, but there’s some risk involved. Unless the CBA changes, the Giants could put a qualifying offer on Belt after the 2017 season, possibly hampering his ability to fully cash in.
For now, Belt isn’t sweating the process. Every player in the clubhouse knows that the Giants like to take care of their own. Brandon Crawford was the latest homegrown star to get a long-term deal, signing a $75 million extension in November.
“He’s just rubbing that in my face, that he’s got more money than anyone on the team,” Belt joked. “Nah … he’s a down-to-earth guy. But we’ll see. That’s to be determined.”
If you missed it earlier, here are three more stories from “media day” at the ballpark: Denard Span will play center field ... Joe Panik and others are 100 percent healthy ... and the latest on Tim Lincecum.
Some other highlights from today ...
--- Ehire Adrianza told me last September that he knew he needed to get stronger in order to make an impact at the plate. Well, Adrianza put on 14 pounds of muscle in the offseason, in part because the previously-super-skinny infielder forced himself to eat seven times a day. The Giants want to make sure the extra weight doesn't hurt Adrianza in the field, but that's always been his calling card, so you figure he'll be fine. Adrianza needs to hit to make this team as a backup infielder, and he feels the offseason will really help.
[RELATED: Giants' Duffy hungry for more: Job security not guaranteed]
--- Matt Duffy put on seven pounds, seemingly mostly in his forearms. Duffy made some waves by posting a bulked-up photo on Instagram the other day, but (attention fantasy baseball players) he said his main focus this offseason was actually speed work. He said he's stronger than he was last year, but he also wants an extra gear on the bases. Asked if he's going for a 20-20 season, Duffy smiled and said his best shot is probably to get to 20 steals. But who knows, he did show more power last season than he ever had before.
--- Kelby Tomlinson did end up doing a little bit of outfield work during his offseason workouts back home, but he said the focus is on the infield. Tomlinson played some outfield in instructional ball, but the Giants feel he has a way to go before being ready to handle that role.
"There's a little bit of a learning curve," Tomlinson said. "I feel like I can cover a lot of ground, but I'm not as sharp as someone who has been doing it 15 years."
Tomlinson thinks he may get a game or two in the outfield this spring, but it won't be a big deal. He's ready for emergency outfield duty, and that'll help his case as a utility guy, but it would be a surprise to see him ever play outfield during the season.
--- Madison Bumgarner won't be at FanFest. He drove to Arizona this year (presumably with horses in tow) and ended up a little behind schedule, so he asked to stay in Scottsdale this weekend. Dave Righetti said Bumgarner is throwing and fully on schedule. "I talked to Bum right after Christmas," Righetti said. "He was hunting."
--- Andrew Susac was fired up and ready for a comeback season. "I'm thinking of things positively. It can't go much worse than (last year)," he said. Susac, by the way, got married in November.
--- If you're new here, all my coverage can now be found on Facebook.
--- Hunter Pence on his offseason: "I did a lot of coffee drinking. I learned a lot about coffee."
--- Was this the best Giants offseason Brian Sabean has seen? Well, he made an interesting point, saying that the best winters are the ones when your team is so set already that you don't need to do much. The Giants needed help this offseason, and in that respect, Sabean said this is one of the best stretches the front office has had. And it sounds like they're just about done for a while, too. The Giants haven't ruled out adding depth, but they're pretty much tapped out budget-wise. They also don't expect any more splashes on the international front.
--- Nobody had a better offseason than Brandon Crawford, so someone (not this guy) at media day asked him which part of his offseason was the best. Crawford had to politely point out that his wife gave birth to the couple's first son a month ago. That kind of trumps a Gold Glove, Silver Slugger and new contract.