The San Francisco Giants bullpen will look very different in 2020

San Francisco Giants (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
San Francisco Giants (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

The San Francisco Giants’ bullpen is set to look very different in 2020 following some midseason trades and an offseason full of roster turnover.

The San Francisco Giants‘ bullpen was one of the team’s few strengths in 2019. However, that very strength could quickly become a weakness next season following a few months of change.

Or at the very least, it’s set to look very different.

The Giants bullpen shined last season as the team finished with the third-best bullpen ERA in the National League with a sharp 3.85. They were led by lefty Will Smith who cruised to a 2.76 ERA and 34 saves en route to his first career All-Star appearance.

But even behind him, the Giants had some stellar late-inning options. Sam Dyson held an ERA under 2.50 through his 49 games pitched, veteran Mark Melancon bounced back when not asked to be in a ninth-inning role, and hard-throwing righty Reyes Moronta showed flashes of stardom.

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However, one-by-one the Giants’ late-inning arms have fallen.

Dyson was shipped away to the Minnesota Twins at the trade deadline while Melancon was sent to the Atlanta Braves. Moronta underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder in surgery and will miss most, if not all of 2020.

And with Smith officially signing with the Braves as of Thursday, the final piece of the Giants bullpen success has now departed.

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San Francisco’s bullpen is left with a hollow shell of what it once was and it will be up to Farhan Zaidi and newly-hired general manager Scott Harris to rebuild it.

Some 2019 holdovers who could have major roles with the team next season include veteran southpaw Tony Watson and young right-hander Shaun Anderson. And if the season were to start now, it’s likely one of those two names would be your new closer.

Now, it’s likely that the Giants turn to free agency to add a least a couple of players to sure up the depth of their bullpen. But don’t expect them to make any major moves for a big-name closer.

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Zaidi took a calculated risk when he extended Smith his $17.8 million qualifying offer. While that figure would have been a lot for a closer on a rebuilding team, Zaidi knew that it was a fair deal for a player of Smith’s caliber.

And if he were to accept the offer, the Giants could simply look to trade him come July.

That said, Smith’s offer wasn’t a sign that the Giants are going to hand out lucrative offers to free-agent closers. If anything, it was a sign of the opposite.

If Smith accepted their offer, great. The Giants would have the ninth-inning role solidified at least until the trade deadline when they could try and deal him again. And if he didn’t, they’d likely turn to internal options and be perfectly fine taking the draft compensation and moving on.

The latter option is where the team finds itself now.

It’s currently unclear how the bullpen will shape out by the time the 2020 season rolls around, but it is clear that it’s going to look completely different. And with a new manager in Gabe Kapler who struggled with his bullpen use in Philadelphia, that isn’t exactly ideal.

The Giants are going to need some unheralded names to step up in 2020 if they are going to see similar success from their bullpen.

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And that all starts with whoever is closing out games.