NASHVILLE – The Giants continued to negotiate with second baseman Marco Scutaro and remained hopeful he would accept a two-year contract with a vesting option as the atrium skies darkened over the winter meetings Tuesday.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy told NBC Sports Network that he hoped Scutaro would make a decision before the night was over.
Scutaro is weighing an offer on the table from the Giants while continuing to gauge interest from the Yankees and, perhaps most strongly, from the St. Louis Cardinals. Although the NLCS MVP and Miami resident has told Giants officials that he is eager to return, he also could be swayed to sign with a team that holds spring training in Florida – or with the first club that blinks and offers a third guaranteed year.
The Giants have not been willing to go that far, even though Evans described Scutaro, 37, as an Omar Vizquel type in his durability and longevity. (The Giants once gave Vizquel a three-year deal that took him through his age 40 season, by the way.)
Then there’s the way Scutaro bounced back after the Cardinals’ Matt Holliday took him out with a hard, late and controversial slide at second base during the NLCS.
“If he can survive Holliday at second, it gives me a lot of confidence he can survive into his late 30s,” Evans said, smiling.
Oddly enough, the Cardinals might be the Giants’ toughest competition. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny only smiled when asked about his club’s interest in Scutaro, who went 14 for 28 against them in the NLCS.
[RATTO: Focus shifts to Scutaro with Pagan signed]
It’s believed the Giants started negotiations with a proposal similar to the two-year, $12 million contract that they gave Freddy Sanchez after the 2010 season; the dollars have gone up from there, and the vesting option contains a buyout.
The Giants continue to sift through other business as well and Evans confirmed mutual interest in Ryan Theriot, but only as a backup infielder. The Giants view Joaquin Arias in more of a utility infield role as well.
So second base remains wide open, with a scramble to ensue if the Giants cannot re-sign Scutaro.
He's expected to give them the courtesy of a final shot if he plans to sign elsewhere, though.
In other news, Angel Pagan will travel to San Francisco on Thursday and take his physical on Friday, at which point his four-year, $40 million contract will become official. That contract instantly looked better a day after it was reached, since the Boston Red Sox will give declining outfielder Shane Victorino $39 million over three years.
Although Evans said he was enthusiastic about players who lobby to play in San Francisco and outfielder Nick Swisher reportedly would love to go there, I’m told he is viewed as more of a “big-ticket item” and his contract demands will be high enough that the Giants probably won’t do more than listen politely.
That 2013 payroll will be “140 million-something,” according to CEO Larry Baer – an increase over the roughly $130 million-plus in player expenditures last season.
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