San Francisco Giants Sign Three Players to Minor League Deals


McCovey Chronicles writer Grant Brisbee reported on Friday that the San Francisco Giants had come to terms on minor league deals with three players: outfielder Justin Maxwell, pitcher Cory Gearrin, and pitcher Nik Turley. While none of these three are the big name star that Giants’ fans were hoping for, this does add depth to the organization.

With the signing of Maxwell, the Giants have added another name to the battle for left field, along with Travis Ishikawa, Gregor Blanco and Juan Perez. Maxwell is versatile and experienced, having played every outfield position with regularity over his six years in the big leagues.

Jul 21, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros center fielder Justin Maxwell (44) gets a hit during the fifth inning against the Seattle Mariners at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Maxwell made his major league debut with the Washington Nationals in 2007 after being drafted in the fourth round two years earlier, and he played parts of three seasons with the big league club. He would move to the New York Yankees organization for the 2011 season but a torn labrum ended his season prematurely, and he never saw big league action. His tenure with New York ended after 2011, and he made another move, this time to the Houston Astros. He became a budding star in the Lonestar State.

In 2012, Maxwell led the team with 18 home runs, and he was second on the club with 53 RBI’s while playing all three outfield spots. He couldn’t replicate that success in 2013 and was traded to the Kansas City Royals midway through the campaign.  He remained with Kansas City in 2014, but he played in just 20 games and hit .150.

Maxwell does have a flare for the dramatic long ball. He’s hit three career grand slams, all coming in big situations. His first career hit came in 2007, and it was a pinch-hit grand slam. On September 9th, 2009, he ended a game against the New York Mets by hitting a walk-off grand slam against Francisco Rodriguez. On September 22nd, 2013, he walked-off again against the Texas Rangers, with his third grand slam.

The 31 year-old Maxwell is a fantastic athlete, as he was rated the Washington Nationals’ organization’s best athlete five straight seasons, from 2005 to 2009. He was also a top-15 prospect four times.

Gearrin is an experienced big league reliever, as he has appeared in 77 games with the Atlanta Braves. He owns a career 4.28 ERA and 1.399 WHIP. The overall numbers aren’t great, but he has shown flashes of great potential.

Mar 20, 2014; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Cory Gearrin (53) throws against the New York Mets in spring training action at Tradition Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

In 2012, he appeared in 22 games, and he posted a 1.80 ERA and 1.100 WHIP in 20 innings. He also struck out 20 while walking only five. In 2013, he got off to a fantastic start, as he put up a 1.46 ERA in April and 2.13 ERA in May. He blew up in June, as he pitched to the tune of a 10.80 ERA, and he was demoted to Triple-A. His season was cut short by a sore shoulder.

In Spring Training in 2014, Gearrin felt elbow pain, and he would eventually fall victim to Tommy John Surgery. He was released by Atlanta in early November.

A former teammate of Giants’ pitcher Tim Hudson, Gearrin is known as a groundball specialist with a funky delivery. He’s a slinging sidewinder, similar to Giants’ lefty Javier Lopez. His sinking fastball is his best pitch, and when it’s working, he can be a double-play machine.

Turley is a former Yankees’ farmhand, and he was the 1502nd player selected in the 2008 amateur draft. Only two players were selected behind him. Despite the low draft stock, Turley has been a solid pitcher in his minor league career, and he has reached as high as Triple-A.

In 133 career games, including 104 starts, Turley has posted a 3.41 ERA and 1.319 WHIP. He strikes out 8.3 batters per nine innings, which is great for a lefty who isn’t a power pitcher. On the other hand, he also issues four free passes per nine innings, which is high.

February 27, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Nik Turley (75) throws a pitch in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Turley is 6’5″ and pitches to his height, creating a great downhill plane. His fastball won’t blow anyone away at 90 to 91, but his ability to keep it down is what makes it effective. His curveball is very good, and Turley can throw it for a strike or bury it in the dirt to make hitters chase. He also features a changeup, which is nothing special but is a usable third pitch.

Despite his experience as a starter throughout his minor league career, his most likely destination seems to be the bullpen. His fastball and curveball are great pitches against lefties, which could make Turley a future left-handed specialist.

While these three signings won’t turn many heads, each of these players have an opportunity to make an impact for the Giants in 2015 and possibily past that. Spring Training 2015 will be a huge time for each player, as they will have to prove themselves worthy of a big league roster spot.