Giants Splash: MLB should send Nick Hundley, Gregor Blanco into talks with union

Ever watch hockey? Sometimes during a face-off, the opponents can’t get in sync with the referee. They’ll start smacking sticks before the puck is dropped, so the ref tells one or both to get lost, and different players are invited into the circle.

Maybe Major League Baseball should try a version of that to solve this teensy-weensy face-off over the destruction of the 2020 season and the sport itself, which John Shea so eloquently describes.

Beyond the dollar issues, the principal impediment to an agreement is the players not trusting management, so maybe the commissioner’s office can find negotiators the union can trust.

If it works this year, perhaps MLB can bring these guys to the table ahead of next year’s collective bargaining agreement conversations, which promise to be the Hundred Years’ War on steroids.

Sorry, bad choice of words.

My suggestion is having Commissioner Rob Manfred invite recently retired players Nick Hundley, Gregor Blanco and Chris Young (the tall one who pitched) to initiate renewed talks with the MLB Players Association.

The league hired Young in 2018 as vice president of on-field operations, initiatives and strategy to deal with ump relations, rules changes, scoring changes, discipline and the like, working for Joe Torre.

When Torre retired as head of baseball operations over the winter, Young took his job and the league hired Hundley and Blanco straight out of the clubhouse to become senior directors of baseball operations and report to Young.

Reality check: Everything always comes back to money, specifically how much the owners want to keep and the union wants to extract. No matter who sits at the table for the league, the owners have the final say.

But just to get things rolling, throw all the lawyers, professional negotiators and leaders out of the room. No Manfred. No Tony Clark. Have Hundley, Blanco and Young sit across the table from former on-field opponents who now sit on top union committees. Guys like Andrew Miller, Max Scherzer and Elvis Andrus.

Let them have frank athlete-to-athlete talks on what the current players think they really need before they get back on the field in 2020, and what could bring labor peace for years beyond. (Hint: more money.)

Current players would have to shelve any potential distrust with guys who have gone to “the dark side.” Owners would have to trust that their new faces at the table can be tough negotiators. Hundley certainly proved himself in his 2018 negotiations with Yasiel Puig.

Ultimately, the lawyers and accountants will need to write the final settlements, but at least the cornerstone of their work will have been lain by men on both sides who played the game.

The results can’t be worse than today’s reality, right?

Prospect Watch

The biggest surprise in the first round of this year’s shortened amateur draft had to be the Red Sox’s selection of South Bay high schooler Nick Yorke with the 17th overall pick. Yorke truly was off radar. Some scouts said they hadn’t even heard of him.

If so, the No. 2 surprise was the Giants using the 13th overall pick on a college catcher, North Carolina State’s Patrick Bailey. Team officials couched the move as “best player available” and “you can never have enough catching,” but you have to wonder if, in at least a small way, it reflects concern about Joey Bart’s long-term viability as an everyday catcher.

The Giants’ second-rounder was a two-way player from San Diego State, Casey Schmitt, whom the club expects to develop as a third baseman and not a pitcher. Their third-rounder, De La Salle High lefty Kyle Harrison, agreed to a $2.5 million bonus, more than three times the slot value.

As promised, the Giants had a more balanced draft this year than last, taking four pitchers and three hitters (including Schmitt).

One other draft note: The top overall pick was Petaluma’s Spencer Torkelson, who is happy to be going to a … hockey town? Torkelson is the pride of the 707.

The Offbeat

We’ve had some fun during the shutdown writing historical stuff, such as my “10 from 2010” series of Q&As with members of that World Series title team. Cody Ross was the most recent.

Giants' manager Bruce Bochy celebrates with the championship trophy, as the San Francisco Giants beat the Detroit Tigers to win the World Series in a four game sweep, , on Sunday Oct. 28, 2012 , at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan.

Also fun is our Untold Stories series. I always like to read behind-the-scenes stuff from politics and entertainment. We hope the readers have enjoyed our tales on how the newspaper sausage is made.

This week, John Shea and I combined to write the tale of our escape from Detroit after the 2012 World Series ended with Superstorm Sandy on the way. Willie Mays makes a cameo appearance.

Quote of the Week

“Meanwhile, minor-leaguers continue to struggle financially. We’re looking forward to the day when we can get back to the trial court and finish prosecuting this case.”

— Attorney and former Giants pitching prospect Garrett Broshuis, after Major League Baseball and 22 teams named as defendants asked the U.S. Supreme Court last week to prevent a class-action suit seeking back pay for thousands of minor-leaguers and future salaries that at least meet states’ minimum wages.

Covering the Bases

Paying prospects: There was little doubt the Giants would extend weekly minor-league stipends through season’s end. Last week, they announced it.

Staying at Cal: When I chatted with Dusty Baker about something else recently, he said he made it clear to his son Darren that he wants the kid to get a college degree. And so it will be, John Shea writes, with the Cal student-athlete agreeing to return for his senior season.

Guillen speaks: Jose Guillen has an odd place in Giants history. If not for a steroid shipment coming to his house in September 2010, Ross might not have had the chance to be a postseason hero. Guillen talks about that shipment in this “A’s Gone By” story by Susan Slusser.

McCormick dies: Only two Giants have won a Cy Young Award. The first, Mike McCormick, died at 81 on Saturday.

Sounding Off

Last week, the “Giants Splash” downloads for 2020 surpassed all of 2019. We’re doing more of them. You seem to like them. In honor of the feat, here is the most-downloaded 2020 episode so far. It was farm director Kyle Haines talking about the minor-leaguers to watch in spring training, published Jan. 10. You can hear it here.

Giants Splash is the weekly San Francisco Giants’ newsletter from The San Francisco Chronicle. It is written by Henry Schulman and John Shea. Sign up for the newsletter here and follow Henry and John on Twitter.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.