Saturday, February 20, 2021

Here Comes the Shun

The Giants picked up RHP Shun Yamaguchi who was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays after a disastrous 2020 season, his MLB debut. Yamaguchi, who turns 34 in July, logged 14 NPB seasons with the Yokohama BayStars and Yomiuri Giants. He signed a two-year deal with Toronto and they still owe him about three million bucks so it is another, I hate to say it, "low-risk" move by FZ & Co.

Yamaguchi features a splitter/forkball, was primarily a reliever in Japan, and had no starts in 17 appearances with Toronto. I imagine that many Giants fans are tired of the "dumpster-diving" and see this move as just another chunk in the churn. He is of course just another chunk in the churn, but I can't see a downside. No one in the Giants system is being blocked. If someone pitches well they will get a job with the big club even if a veteran is in front of them. And if they don't it means the guy in that spot is performing even better. Having hungry, quality arms in the minors is just what you want! Pitching depth is crucial for any team, but particularly crucial for the Giants in the 2021 NL West. Take a look at the Dodgers and the Padres--they have star-studded, talent-rich pitching staffs. The Giants need every tool in the toolbox to compete!

I don't know yet if this move has roster implications. I'll update this post when I see the details. I have a feeling the Jays are going to regret this move, at least a little bit. I think this guy will find his footing in MLB and be an effective pitcher. Spring Training keeps getting more interesting!



update: Susan Slusser tweets that it is a "split" contract, minors/majors. I'm not sure what that means but it must be legal. His guaranteed money from Toronto probably only kicks in if he's on a 26-man roster or something. I don't know, I suspect we'll find out. Either way he's an almost free arm for the Giants.

update (again): Andrew Baggarly tweets "The Giants made the Shun Yamaguchi signing official. It's a minor league contract. Toronto is on the hook for his guaranteed salary so he'd make the prorated major league minimum if added to the roster."

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

NRIs: catchers

The Giants find themselves well-stocked in the catching department. Buster Posey, one of last season's more notable opt-outs, is back for 2021 and will presumably start the bulk of the games. Capable backup Curt Casali is signed and will get plenty of opportunities. The no. 1 prospect in the organization, 2018 1st round pick (#2 overall) Joey Bart, waits in the wings. Bart struggled in his (rushed) debut last season, but will get more than enough chances in AAA this summer to force his way back on the 26-man roster. Last year's surprise Chadwick Tromp is still on the 40-man roster and will probably be Bart's teammate.

Much was made of the fact that the Giants selected another catcher, Patrick Bailey, in the 1st round (#13) of the 2020 draft. Bailey played at NC State but because of the pandemic has had no opportunity to play pro ball. I don't think it means the Giants have given up on Bart or intend to trade him, just that catchers are really important and when you can acquire premium catching talent you do it. Bailey turns 22 in May and will likely open the season at San Jose (low-A).

The other NRI backstop joining Bailey is international free agent Ricardo Genoves. The Giants signed him as a 17-year old in Venezuela and he advanced to A-level in 2019. He's built like a catcher: 6'-2" and 254 lbs. Genoves comes from a baseball family and is noted for his "intangibles." He also turns 22 in May.

This is Buster's last season under contract (the team has a buyout option for 2022). Posey has said publicly he wants to stay in San Francisco but nothing has happened on that front. I suspect they'll wait to see how healthy and productive he is this season before making an offer to keep him around. He's a franchise icon--the greatest catcher in team history--and the last link to the 2010 championship team. Bruce Bochy and Madison Bumgarner both moved on and the same could happen with Buster, but I think things might be different this time. Buster has a unique appeal that goes beyond Giants fans, and it would be a PR disaster to have him walk away. Plus they will have lots of payroll flexibility after this season!


p.s. I mentioned in the comments yesterday that the Giants signed RHP Aaron Sanchez to a major league deal ($4M+ incentives). This suggest to me that Logan Webb will get more seasoning in Sacramento. Gausman, Cueto, DeSclafani, Wood, and Sanchez seem like the Obvious Five. Maybe Webb will stick around as a swing man ("bulk guy" in Kap-speak).

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

NRIs: infielders

Marco Luciano is all of 19 years old (he turns 20 in September) but he's rated by FanGraphs as the no. 2 prospect in the Giants organization. He signed as an amateur free agent when he was 16 years old. You can do that in the Dominican Republic (Luciano is from San Pedro de Macoris) and other places like Venezuela. You have to be 17 if you are from the United States. The Giants were willing to risk $2.6M on this teenage phenom so it should be fun to follow his progress.

Luciano is projected as a slugging shortstop or third baseman. He raked (.322/.438/.616) in the Arizona League (rookie-level) in 2019, hitting 10 homers, 9 doubles, and 2 triples in 38 games. He spent 2020 at the so-called "alternate site." Luciano is right-handed and listed at 6'-2" and 178 lbs.

Another interesting fellow is Will Wilson, a 2B/SS from North Carolina. He was the first-round pick (#15) in the 2019 draft for the Angels after tearing it up at NC State. The Giants, trading cash and a PTBNL (who turned out to be LHP Garrett Williams), took on Zack Cozart and his big salary in order to land Wilson. Cozart was released after the 2019 season and did not play in MLB in 2020. The Giants also have the #10 pick from that same draft, OF Hunter Bishop, who I wrote about yesterday. Wilson is listed as the no. 7 prospect in the system. He will be 23 in June.

Three infielders get the invite to camp, the last one being lefty first baseman Logan Wyatt. He was a 2nd-round pick (#51) from, you guessed it, the 2019 draft. Wyatt is from Kentucky and played college ball at Louisville. He's big, listed at 6'-4" and 230 lbs., but is known for his high OBP rather than his slugging. Scouts like his contact skills and expect his power hitting to emerge. He will be 24 in November and will likely be assigned to AA.


Monday, February 15, 2021

NRIs: outfielders

There are three NRI outfielders coming to camp and two of them are among the Giants most exciting young players. Heliot Ramos, 17 years old and just out of high school in Puerto Rico, was the team's 1st-round draft pick in 2017 (#19 overall). He's right-handed and listed as a centerfielder but most people think he'll be a power hitter and wind up at a corner spot. FanGraphs lists him as the no. 3 prospect in the organization. Here's FZ:

"He was probably among our top prospects as hurt by anyone by the lost season because he was on a path to potentially playing in the big leagues in 2020," president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said during a Zoom call with reporters on Friday. "I just know he's motivated and how highly we all think of him from an organizational standpoint. It's going to be fun to see him out there."

Ramos will be 22 in September.

Hunter Bishop was also a 1st-rounder, this time the #10 pick in 2019. The lefty hitter is from San Carlos and like Barry Bonds went to Serra HS and Arizona State. He's a high-OBP guy. FanGraphs rates him the no. 4 prospect in the system. He'll be 23 in June.

The third guy came over from Tampa Bay in a trade in 2019. The Giants gave up a young LHP named Jacob Lopez for Joe McCarthy. McCarthy made his debut with the team last year but unfortunately went 0-for-10. He's a lefty hitter from Pennsylvania who played college ball at Virginia. He has the most experience of the three, playing over 400 games in the minors (1691 PA) and compiling a .261/.376/.406 slash line. He turns 27 next week.


Sunday, February 14, 2021

NRIs: pitchers

There are thirteen NRIs who will be in the big league camp next week. Maria Guardado has a piece on the Giants website about them.

Five of them are pitchers, all right-handed: Tristan Beck, Tyler Cyr, Matt Frisbee, Sean Hjelle, and Kai-Wei Teng.

Beck is a starter but has not pitched above A+ ball. He's a SoCal boy originally and pitched for the Stanford Cardinal. He came to the Giants from the Braves in the Mark Melancon trade. (Melancon is now with the Padres.) He'll be 25 in June.

Cyr is a Bay Area boy and was the Giants 10th round pick in 2015 (from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University). He was a closer at AA (Richmond).  He'll be 27 in May.

I hope Frisbee throws a slider!  He's from North Carolina and was the team's 15th round pick in 2018. He was a starter at UNC-Greensboro and also in the Giants system at San Jose. He'll turn 25 in November.

Hjelle (say "jelly") is from Minnesota and was a 2nd round pick from the same 2018 draft. He was a starter for Kentucky and has made 40 starts for the Giants in the minors. We've heard a lot about him and he seems to be on the fast track, jumping from low-A to AA last year. He's 6'-11" and would be the tallest major-league pitcher in history (just nipping Randy Johnson) if he makes the bigs. He'll be 24 in May.

Kai-Wei Teng is from Taiwan. He came to the Giants from the Twins (who had signed him as an international free agent in 2017) in the Sam Dyson trade. He's a starter with a big body (6'-4", 260 lbs.) but is still young and has not pitched above Class A. At Augusta he struck out 39 of the 110 batters he faced in 2019 (5 starts, 29 IP). He's 23 in December.

I'll look at the position players in another post. Things change fast in Zaidi Land and I have to do my homework to keep up on all these guys! I note that lefty Seth Corry was not on the list. He was drafted out of high school (he's from Utah) in the 3rd round in 2017. He's started 50 games in the Giants low minors. FanGraphs has a profile on him and rates him the 11th best prospect in the organization. He turns 23 in November and will probably start the year at AA.


p.s. I should note that the Giants retained their AAA team in Sacramento, the River Cats, as well as their AA team in Richmond (Virginia), the Flying Squirrels. Their new Class A Advanced (A+) will be the Eugene Emeralds. The San Jose Giants drop from A+ to Class A. The minor league contraction eliminated the low-A level and that included the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. The Class A Augusta GreenJackets are now a Braves affiliate. All MLB teams are now affiliated with four teams at four levels (AAA, AA, A+, and A). There are no AA teams west of Texas.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

The rosters so far

I count 41 on the 40-man roster. That is, I've included free agent lefty reliever Jake McGee despite no official word from the Giants about the signing.

There are 20 pitchers on the Giants 40-man roster (according to the website): Caleb Baragar, Tyler Beede, John Brebbia, Kevin Castro, Johnny Cueto, Anthony DeSclafani, Camilo Duval, Jarlin Garcia, Kevin Gausman, Trevor Gott, Conner Menez, Reyes Moronta, Dedniel Nunez, Wandy Peralta, Tyler Rogers, Gregory Santos, Sam Selman, Logan Webb, Matt Wisler, and Alex Wood. The number goes to 21 if you add FNG McGee. Someone will get bumped from this list once they complete that deal.

There are 4 catchers: Buster Posey, Curt Casali, Joey Bart, and Chadwick Tromp.

There are 9 infielders: Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Mauricio Dubon, Wilmer Flores, Tommy La Stella, Evan Longoria, Darin Ruf, Donovan Solano, and Jason Vosler.

That leaves 7 outfielders: Alexander Canario, Jaylin Davis, Alex Dickerson, Steven Duggar, Austin Slater, LaMonte Wade, Jr., and Mike Yastrzemski.

Here's the latest from FZ:

“I think we're still going to look to add,” president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said during a Zoom call with reporters on Friday. “Adding another experienced starting pitcher, whether it's an NRI [non-roster invitee], or potentially a Major League deal or trade, is something we're still looking at. … Certainly, we feel like on the position player side and in the bullpen, we're pretty settled, but starting pitching is probably the one area we're going to continue to look at.”

There are a number if interesting NRIs and I'll cover them in another post. Starter Tyler Beede and reliever John Brebbia are both recovering from TJS and won't be available until summer. It will be a year of re-hab for Beede in March and a year for Brebbia in June.

Right now the rotation looks like Kevin Gausman, Johnny Cueto, Anthony DeSclafani, Alex Wood (L), and Logan Webb. The bullpen looks like Reyes Moronta, Tyler Rogers, Jake McGee (L), Matt Wisler, Jarlin Garcia (L), Trevor Gott, Sam Selman (L), and Dedniel Nunez. The last fellow, Nunez, is a Rule V pick which complicates things. If the Giants don't keep him on the 2021 roster they have to give him back to the Mets.

That's 13 spots on the 26-man roster. Right now it looks like the 13 position player spots will be Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Evan Longoria, Tommy La Stella, Wilmer Flores, Donovan Solano, Mauricio Dubon, Alex Dickerson, Mike Yastrzemski, Darin Ruf, Austin Slater, and Curt Casali.

The Giants are scheduled for their first full-squad workout on February 22nd.


p.s. Roster Resource (now part of FanGraphs) has a handy quick-reference team depth chart. It's a good one to bookmark.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Still seeking southpaws

The Giants have a deal (2 yrs, $7M) with lefty reliever Jake McGee. The 34-year old veteran (11 seasons, 546 games) came up with the Rays and spent time with both the Rockies and the Dodgers. He's a local boy (born in San Jose) but went to HS in Nevada and had his first pro stint at age 17. Lifetime (475-2/3 IP) McGee has a 3.59 ERA, 3.39 FIP, and 3.00 SIERA*. By comparison Tony Watson has a career line of 2.80/3.61/3.47 over 591 innings, and he's a free agent. I assume they don't expect to re-sign Watson and that's why they targeted this guy.

This is a good move as the Giants need lefty arms and competition for spots in the bullpen. Pitchers and catchers report on February 17. I have not heard of a corresponding 40-man roster move to make a spot for McGee.


*if you are not familiar with SIERA FanGraphs has a primer