The Giants are probably done filling major holes with Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro both signed. Now, general manager Brian Sabean is handing out small deals and minor league contracts to smooth out the rough edges.
However, San Francisco’s bullpen still has one opening that’s up for grabs. And with the amount of mixing and matching Bruce Bochy incorporates on a game to game basis, having a spread of reliable relievers suits the skipper and the Giants well.
Elsewhere, the Giants lack starting pitching depth. Some of their highly touted youngsters are coming along the ranks, but their debuts likely won’t occur until 2015 at the earliest. So, Sabean’s best bet is a guy who can both come out of the pen and spot start when needed, albeit there aren’t a ton of pitchers that fit those guidelines.
Despite limited financial resources after forking up $80-plus million to Pagan, Scutaro, and Jeremy Affeldt combined, the Giants could still probably make room for a middle-cost to low-cost pitcher if they’re smart.
Here are three relievers that could fill the remaining hole:
Hey, why not? If there’s a team who could potentially mend the bemused southpaw, it’s surely the Giants.
The Giants drafted Sanchez in 2004, refined his mechanics, and eventually promoted him to the majors, where he did find a decent amount of success. Nowadays, that success seems like a distant memory, though, as his gruesome 2012 campaign (8.06 ERA in 15 starts) practically depletes his portfolio. Truth be told, though, it wasn’t too long ago when Sanchez was thriving with the Giants.
His most impressive season of the six with San Francisco was 2010. In 33 starts, he compiled a nifty 3.07 ERA and won 13 games. More impressively, he also posted a strikeout per nine innings rate of 9.5. For a left-hander, it can’t get much better.
So the point is, Sanchez has found success with the Giants in the past. Meaning, pitching coach Dave Righetti is one of the few figures that could restore his confidence, and set him on the right track.
Plus, Sanchez wouldn’t merely burden San Francisco’s payroll. Perhaps a minor league contract included with an invite to Spring Training would be reasonable. He would have a chance to prove himself, and if not, he would simply try his luck in the minors. It’s really a win-win situation for both parties involved with little risk implied.
Sanchez would provide the Giants with some much needed depth as a starter and reliever. Yes, if he did rejuvenated himself, the Giants’ bullpen would become a log-jam, particularly on lefties. Still, a team can never have enough depth, as the Giants proved in 2012.
Like Sanchez, Valverde needs to prove himself again. He did save 35 games for the Tigers in 2012, but that total came along with five blown saves and a stew of stress in the dugout when he was called upon.
You can cross the Tigers off the list of potential landing spots for the 34-year-old. His four of atrocious postseason performances probably was probably the final straw for the Tigers, and Detroit also has prospect Bruce Rondon waiting in the wings. In other words, the Tigers don’t want nor need Valverde back.
What has to be sorted out first, though, is whether Valverde wants to continue pitching. Way back in October, Valverde didn’t provide reporters with a definite answer as to what his plans are heading into next year. He said (via the Detroit Free Press) “I don’t know yet,” Valverde said. “I know I’m a free agent, you know what I mean.”
Even so, there’s been nil amount of interest in the three-time All-Star. That trend doesn’t seem to be changing either. Perhaps the Giants should start kicking the tires around, and roll the dice on the veteran closer. That is, if he wants to continue pitching.
San Francisco does have a potential vacancy for him in their ‘pen. Guillermo Mota and Clay Hensley are out of the equation, meaning there’s likely one more spot for someone to fill. Recently signed Chad Gaudin is the current favorite to earn the final spot pending a decent Spring Training showing, while Sandy Rosario is a dark-house. Still, Valverde could easily give both a run for their money.
Valverde would certainly be a gamble, but not an expensive one. Maybe this is a move the Giants make if Brian Wilson signs elsewhere, as they’re essentially the same type of players at this juncture—risky, former closers, and need an opportunity to prove themselves again.
At the moment, the Giants and Wilson may unite with Wilson wearing a different uniform—the Dodgers, perhaps? Even if true, talks between Wilson and the Dodgers are premature. Maybe this is all jibber-jabber considering that Los Angeles was reportedly not interested in him earlier this month.
Either way, San Francisco shouldn’t completely give up on their homegrown closer. Yes, there were some hard feelings between the two sides when he wasn’t tendered. In all seriousness, though, non-tendering him was the wise move. Still, on a shorter, incentive loaded contract, he may be worth the risk.
With his prestigious track record, there’s always the possibility that Wilson could revert to 2010 form. If so, not only would the Giants’ bullpen have all kinds of depth, but also one of the most lethal duos in baseball with Sergio Romo and Wilson to close the door on game.
Until some team steps up to the plate, however, we have a classic waiting game taking place.