Giants cut back spending on international players
DENVER — The Giants did not spend multimillions on teenage talent Friday, when major league clubs could begin signing international free agents. And they probably won't make any splashes in the coming months, scouting director John Barr said.
That doesn't mean Barr and his staff aren't active on the international front.
"We're working on some things," said Barr, who leaves today for a weeklong trip to the Dominican Republic. "But a lot has happened all through Latin America. The commissioner's office is getting involved with (drug) testing, and you've got people asking for a lot of money.
"We felt we weren't going to chase some people. That's why we didn't make a big splash like you've seen."
Barr said one consideration is that "we're in this thing and positioned to make a run," but he wouldn't go as far to say that his scouting budget was reduced to support the major league payroll.
"It's more about the prices going really high," Barr said. "We correlate it with the draft and figure out what we'd really want to spend. When you've got 30 teams bidding on a player, the price may escalate."
It might be a natural impulse for the Giants to hesitate on the international market. Their recent investments haven't returned much, and two of their high-level signings were voided when problems surfaced.
They entered the big-money game in 2006 when they spent $2.1 million on Angel Villalona; three years later, the slugging prospect was charged with murder after a barroom shooting, and he remains in the Dominican awaiting trial.
The Giants made another splash in 2008, giving $2.55 million to outfielder Rafael Rodriguez. The 6-foot-5 prospect, who turns 18 on July 13, was hitting .163 in his first 12 games for Salem-Keizer in the short-season Northwest League.
Also in 2008, the Giants spent $625,000 on right-hander Luis Mateo but voided the deal a month later when an exam found bone chips in his elbow.
Last year, the Giants spent $1.3 million on third baseman Duanel Jones. That deal was voided when Jones failed a drug test; he signed with the San Diego Padres for $900,000.
— ANDREW BAGGARLY