San Francisco Giants: Early 2016 Roster Chatter

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Sep 7, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Mike Leake (13) throws in the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Starting pitching and the bullpen have been Bochy’s foundation for all three of his championships. Offensively, the Giants did what they needed to do, but that was never the highlight. It was the pitching staff.

If pitching is the strength, it is time to strengthen it once again, starting with re-signing Leake. Coming over from Cincinnati, Leake was having a career year after being rushed into the league. Solidifying himself as a number two for the Reds, and now the Giants, a hefty paycheck could be headed his way.

Having a career year with Great American Ballpark being your home is tough for any pitcher, and coming over to San Francisco and having AT&T Park as your new home, couldn’t be more of a blessing to him. Not to mention the fact that Leake has always had success pitching in the Bay Area. It seems like a dream match.

Losing a franchise top prospect was worth it at the time, but it will look much worse if he doesn’t re-sign this offseason. Unfortunately for the Giants, Scott Boras is his agent and we all know what that means — money, money, and more money.

The Giants have had to deal with Boras in the past, so it is not unfamiliar territory. But with a questionable future for the likes of Lincecum and Cain, and with Hudson retiring, signing Leake becomes all the more important.

The Giants have two spots in the rotation opening as Madison Bumgarner, Peavy, and Cain will return for next year. If Leake is signed, then there is one last spot open. Who could be considered?

Chris Heston is a rookie this season and has dealt with getting worn out at the wrong time. With his durability possibly being a concern for his job security next season, Heston’s challengers this offseason could be Clayton Blackburn, Blach, and Beede.

Blackburn, the former 16th round pick in 2011, has developed quickly into a middle of the rotation option for the River Cats this season in AAA. Registering a 10-4 record, a 2.85 ERA, and 99 strike outs, in 123 innings of work, he has made his case for an invite this Spring to Arizona. Only 22 years old, there is more flexibility with Blackburn about when he is ready to be called up to the big leagues.

Beede is in the same spot, as he earned a Futures Game start and was placed on the fast track in the organization. All three prospects’ arrivals appear to be coming in the near future — it’s just a matter of when.

Peavy will be in the final year of his two-year deal this offseason, and then after 2016, the Giants will once again have to search for an answer to fill his spot. Bumgarner carried the team in the 2014 playoffs, and the Giants can’t afford for him to pitch that way again.

Away from the minor league system, here are some starters the Giants will be most likely be included in talks for or someone to look at:

David Price

Zack Greinke

Yovani Gallardo

Doug Fister

Scott Kazmir

Ian Kennedy

Mike Leake

Signing starting pitchers is going to be competitive across the league this offseason as some franchises are going to open the money trucks and load them up. The Dodgers are one team who could look to add, as Greinke is expected to opt out of his current contract to join the free agency list. Leake is already a given as far as who the Giants must target, and there may be some mutual interest between the two, despite the way the rest of the season has played out.

Relying on veterans worked for quite some time, but the Giants have to look at the game and adjust to it to keep up. That does not mean the Giants have to grab one or two money sucking pitchers, they just need to get younger and add depth to a rotation that needs life again.

Clayton Kershaw and Greinke have been one of the game’s greatest duos of all-time for a single-season and are close to rewriting the record books. But what to look at is the one-two punch they provide.

Bumgarner is the ace of the rotation, but he does not have a supporting cast he can rely on. Leake was that glue, but never got the run support. The Giants lack that quality number two starter, but they can find that guy in Greinke or Price.

Both are most likely going to demand a $250 or more million, multi-year deal on the open market. The Giants would uncomfortably have to open the checkbook up again, but these are two pitchers who have consistently proven they are tops in the league — and Greinke is Giants-killer so having him on their side would be a bonus.

If you can’t beat them, might as well add them and keep them out of the hands of your rival or another team. As glorious and wonderful as it would be to think that Greinke or Price could don the orange and black, it’s hard to believe they will be a Giant when all is said and done, let alone in the NL West.

That is where your alternates come in with re-signing Leake, and potentially singing somebody like Fister, Kazmir, Gallardo, or Kennedy. Fister would be the best fit and a guy whose value dropped dramatically, after a demotion from the rotation landed him in the bullpen for the Nationals. A year ago, Fister had over 16 wins and was the only pitcher in the entire playoffs to pitch against and beat Bumgarner.

Fister is a Merced native and has bounced around from Seattle, Detroit, and Washington throughout his career. That is multiple homes and lots of traveling over the years. Only 31 years old and still in his prime years, a poor 2015 campaign should not have occurred. Injuries have bothered Fister the last couple of seasons, which is something to note. But they were never injuries that required surgery and were able to heal on their own so the concern may be mitigated.

Having had success in Detroit and Washington, Fister’s capabilities are well known and he would be a bargain if the Giants could land him on a respectable deal.

Gallardo has been around for quite sometime, but has yet to surpass the 30-year old plateau, as he is only 29. There is lots of mileage on his arm though, and the Brewers as well as the Rangers have had to rely on his arm to lead the rotation. But Gallardo can hit, and can fit in with successful hitting and slugging pitchers of San Francisco.

Kazmir is familiar with the Bay Area, as the A’s have helped turn his career around and got him back to being the pitcher he was once expected to be before numerous arm injuries derailed that. Kazmir has had a revival and it was made even better in that the A’s to not pay him much but got quite a return on the investment from the Astros, who acquired him for a playoff push this season.

The Astros are most likely wanting to have him back to help out the youngsters build a bright future in Houston, but a return to the Bay Area wearing a different jersey is an option.

Kennedy is most certainly a middle of the rotation pitcher, who has battled consistency issues throughout his career. One year he is excellent and the next he looks lost. This has happened to him in both Arizona and San Diego. The Padres had one of the most deepest rotations in the NL West heading into the season, but mightily underachieved, making all of them expendable for the right deal.

Kennedy struggled out the gate with performance and health, but has returned rather strong of late, most likely to boost his offseason value. Another player familiar with the NL West, if Kennedy moved north to the Bay Area, he could help boost the middle of the rotation for Bumgarner and a potentially re-signed Leake.

Trading for a pitcher doesn’t seem imminent, so within the organization or free agency seems to be the route to boost the rotation.

PREDICTION: Re-sign Mike Leake & Sign Doug Fister

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