Category Archives: Giants Jerseys 2020

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We’ll find out in the coming months if the Yankees are done with outfielder Clint Frazier, or if he gets another shot in 2020 to be a complete player, which would require significant defensive improvement to compliment offensive contributions that can be significant.

And if the Yankees don’t make a move, they may first have to get a believable promise from Frazier that he’s done pouting on social media, done feuding with the media and willing to make a much bigger effort to fit in whether he’s in the big leagues or back in Triple-A waiting for another opportunity.

Regardless of what the Yankees ultimately decide, for sure Frazier is in the place this winter that he was throughout last offseason:

On the trading block.

The Yankees still aren’t ready to give Frazier away because they don’t have a ton of outfield depth and he probably still could bring something of high value in return because of his offensive potential. He proved he could hit big-league pitching during his time with the Yanks this year, batting .267 with 12 homers, 38 RBI and an .806 ERA in 69 games.

There are believed to be some clubs that don’t want Frazier because of his past issues and/or defensive struggles, but others surely would like adding a young impact bat to their lineup.

Here are four trades that we’ve come up with that could work:


Trade: Frazier to the Giants for reliever Tony Watson and outfielder prospect Alexander Canario.

Why Yankees would do it: In addition to getting rid of a problem child, they’d add a left-handed bullpen piece with a pretty good track record plus a 19-year-old Dominican outfield prospect who hit 16 homers in 59 games this season playing rookie and low-A ball.

Why Giants would do it: They’re not looking to go into a full rebuild and badly need an outfield bat who can produce like Frazier. Also, they’d only be losing their third-best outfielder prospect, and getting a major-league ready one back with a low salary should allow them to spend bigger dollars to add one or two quality starting pitchers.

* * *


Trade: Frazier and left-handed reliever Stephen Tarpley to Reds for left-handed reliever Amir Garrett and catcher Curt Casali.

Why Yankees would do it: The Yanks could fill two needs getting a quality lefty middle reliever in Garrett, who pitched to a 3.21 ERA with 78 Ks in 56 innings last season, plus a solid No. 2 catcher in Casali. Both players would come cheap, too, and that could greatly help the Yankees’ quest to sign a top free agent starter like Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg.

Why Reds would do it: They’re not completely sold on their three young starting outfielders and hope to bring in another to compete for playing time. Also, Tarpley would give them a potentially decent situational lefty reliever to replace Garrett.

* * *


Trade: Frazier to Orioles for reliever Mychal Givens.

Why Yankees would do it: They love Givens’ arm and tried unsuccessfully to deal for him last summer at the trade deadline. His 4.57 ERA last year was a career worst, but he did it fanning 86 over 63 innings and his career ERA is 3.40 over 284 relief outings since 2015.

Why Orioles would do it: The terrible and cheap Orioles need a productive bat a lot more than they need a closer, and Frazier’s six-figure salary will be a lot more attractive to them than the projected $3.2 million that the arbitration-eligible Givens will make in 2020.

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Trade: Frazier, pitching prospect Albert Abreu and reliever Ben Heller to Tigers for left-handed starter Matthew Boyd and reliever Joe Jimenez

Why Yankees would do it: The Yankees would get a young starter that they like plus a useful veteran reliever without giving up a major piece from their probable 2020 big-league roster.

Why Tigers would do it: The Tigers are at least a couple seasons away from contending and they’d get a position player, plus an elite rotation prospect in Abreu and a hard-throwing young reliever in Heller who could help them in the present and future.

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SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants stunned much of their fan base Monday when they decided to let go of Kevin Pillar, but the veteran center fielder wasn’t the only notable big leaguer to suddenly find himself a free agent.

Ahead of the deadline to offer contracts to arbitration-eligible players, 56 big leaguers were non-tendered. The list includes top draft picks, All-Stars, and a couple of familiar names. Former Giants Derek Law and Josh Osich were let go and now are on the open market.

Farhan Zaidi has four roster spots open as he heads to the Winter Meetings. That’ll allow him to be active in the Rule 5 Draft if he wants, as well as take a long look at the non-tenders. Here are a few veterans who could make sense for the 2020 roster:

Cesar Hernandez
A switch-hitting second baseman who has experience at other positions, a .352 career on-base percentage, and 29 homers the past two seasons? That’s an intriguing piece even before you consider that Hernandez played for Gabe Kapler the past two seasons.

The Giants brought Donovan Solano back but still could use middle infield depth in case Mauricio Dubon needs more time in the minors. Even if Dubon is the starting second baseman, they could use a left-handed bat to support Dubon, Solano and third baseman Evan Longoria, and Kapler could certainly use a former Phillie or two in the clubhouse to help ease the transition.

Blake Treinen
The former A’s closer might be the most intriguing name on this list. Treinen posted one of the best relief seasons in history in 2018, but his ERA jumped from 0.78 to 4.91 in 2019 as his walk rate more than doubled. Few relievers have better raw stuff than Treinen, and you can bet there will be a strong interest in a pitcher who could be a difference-maker if he finds anything close to his 2018 form. The Giants can offer him a guaranteed shot in the late innings, with a clear path to the closer job if Treinen gets off to a good start.

Kevin Gausman
The fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft, Gausman is the type of pitcher a lot of front offices will look at and wonder, “What if we could get him on track?”

Gausman, a 28-year-old right-hander, had a 5.72 ERA for the Braves and Reds last season but has had stretches of sustained success as a big-league starter. He had a 2.87 ERA in 10 second-half starts for the Braves just a year ago.

Regardless of what Madison Bumgarner decides, the Giants have enough rotation flexibility to take a shot on a player or two like Gausman. If they hit on one, they could have a heck of a trade chip in July. Aaron Sanchez (Astros) and Taijuan Walker (Diamondbacks) are others who fit this mold. Both are super-talented but coming off injuries.

Jason Adam
Most Giants fans have likely never heard of Adam, a 28-year-old who had a 2.91 ERA in 23 relief appearances for the Blue Jays. The right-hander has been in the minors for seven years but has piled up strikeouts the past two. Sam Selman had a somewhat similar background and found success in Triple-A last season before making it to the big leagues for the Giants.

Jimmy Nelson
The 30-year-old right-hander is just two years removed from posting a 3.49 ERA and 3.05 WHIP for the Brewers. Nelson missed all of the 2018 season with a shoulder injury and struggled in scattered appearances when he returned to the mound last season, but Zaidi likes taking chances on guys like this. The Giants claimed Tyler Anderson after an injury-marred 2019 season and might have had him in their 2020 rotation had he agreed to a deal Monday.

Yimi Garcia
Zaidi has brought in a few former Dodgers — Solano was a success story last year — and Garcia also is familiar with Kapler. The right-hander had a 3.61 ERA and 0.86 WHIP last season, striking out more than a batter per inning. He gave up a ton of homers, but what if MLB unjuices the ball?

Domingo Santana
Some Giants people had an interest in Santana when he was in Milwaukee, but he ended up in Seattle, where he posted a .253/.321/.441 slash line with 21 homers last season. The 27-year-old was worth 3.3 WAR in 2017 but has been worth just one Win Above Replacement the rest of his career, in large part because of serious issues with the glove.

Santana played left field and right in Seattle, but he was worth negative-10 Defensive Runs Saved in left and negative-7 in right.

[RELATED: What Giants CF plans are after Pillar non-tender]

The Giants of old would put anyone with a pulse in left field, but that may not be necessary after the 2019 discoveries of Mike Yastrzemski and Alex Dickerson. Still, this club needs right-handed power, and Santana has a career .473 slugging percentage against lefties.

Catcher To Be Named Later
The Giants need to replace Stephen Vogt, and they haven’t seemed all that ready to hand the job to Aramis Garcia. Nobody will be as clean a fit as Vogt, a great clubhouse guy who hit left-handed and could platoon a bit with Buster Posey, but there are a few veterans who became free agents Monday, including Josh Phegley, John Ryan Murphy and Kevin Plawecki.

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Good morning, McCoven!

Dereck Rodriguez may not have had the sophomore season he was hoping for, having gotten shuffled around between being a starter, going to Sacramento and moving to the bullpen. But I bet you this will still go down as one of the best years of his life. Just not for baseball reasons.

Rodriguez got married over the weekend and the Giants shared this photo:

We join them in congratulating the pair and wishing them a happy life together

And yes, before you say it, it’s a slow news day. The wait for Madison Bumgarner continues. The stove is practically an ice box at this point when it comes to the Giants. And there are no signs as of yet that the team will be in the hunt for any free agents this year. So we’re just playing the waiting game while the work gets done behind the scenes. Fun!

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SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants allowed Kevin Pillar to become a free agent by failing to offer the outfielder a 2020 contract on Monday, though they agreed to deals with outfielder Alex Dickerson, left-hander Wandy Peralta and second baseman Donovan Solano.

Acquired from Toronto on April 2, Pillar hit .264 for San Francisco with 21 homers and 87 RBI. He made $5.8 million and likely would have received a salary of around $10 million had the Giants offered a contract, which would have made him eligible for arbitration.

San Francisco also declined to offer contracts to left-hander Tyler Anderson, right-hander Rico Garcia and outfielder Joey Rickard and

Dickerson, who agreed to a $925,000, one-year contract, played 68 games for the Giants and San Diego Padres last season, batting a career-best .276 having played parts of three major league seasons.

The Giants acquired Dickerson from their division rival last June. He made 33 starts in the outfield for San Francisco, 32 in left.

Solano ($1,375,000) appeared in 81 games for the Giants and batted .330 with four home runs, 13 doubles and 23 RBI in 215 at-bats. Peralta ($805,000) went 1-1 with a 5.67 ERA over 47 outings between the Reds and Giants. He didn’t have a decision in eight appearances and 5 2/3 innings for San Francisco after being claimed off waivers in September.

No Giants remain eligible for arbitration.

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As MLB free agency gets underway, the Giants will likely be in the market for at least one starting pitcher, and perhaps multiple arms.

Beyond Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto, the San Francisco Giants have few certainties in their starting rotation. Even in the case of Cueto, it’s unclear how big of a workload he can assume in 2020 in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery.

They will likely need to go outside of the organization to fix this.

Tyler Beede and Logan Webb sit behind Samardzija and Cueto on the depth chart. Both finished the season on a positive note, but there are no assurances that momentum will carry over into 2020.

With this being said, the Giants will need to bolster the rotation either through trades or free agency. As an organization, they are still thin on trade assets, so free agency seems like the most likely route.

The Giants have already started building up their depth by claiming Tyler Anderson and Trevor Oaks off waivers from the Colorado Rockies and Kansas City Royals, respectively. However, given how team president Farhan Zaidi uses the back-end of the 40-man roster, both pitchers may not be with the organization for long.

The top-end of the free-agent market for starting pitchers includes Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Wheeler. The Giants will have the payroll flexibility to add players of that caliber, but more than likely, they will seek lower-cost alternatives without multi-year commitments.

This will give the Giants flexibility to pursue upgrades in other areas of the roster, and they can try to hoard potential trade deadline assets. Zaidi did this when he signed Drew Pomeranz, eventually flipping him to the Milwaukee Brewers for a potential long-term piece in Mauricio Dubon.

If Zaidi has shown anything in his brief tenure as the San Francisco Giants team president, it is that he likes bringing in players with which he has firsthand experience. Drew Pomeranz, Donovan Solano, Trevor Oaks, and Breyvic Valera are just a few examples. His connections to the past could be an indicator of the type of rotation arm the team may target this winter.

He has firsthand experience with a number of free-agent pitchers or has previously been connected to them as targets. Three names that stand out from that list are Tanner Roark, Brett Anderson, and Gio Gonzalez, and that’s the trio we’ll focus on here.

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No manager, no GM, but plenty of former Colorado pitchers.

The Giants added another ex-Rockie on Tuesday, plucking righty Rico Garcia off waivers for their final 40-man roster spot, ESPN first reported. Garcia, 25, was Colorado’s No. 20 prospect after briefly debuting last season.

The Giants claimed lefty Tyler Anderson from the Rockies last week, trying to deepen a thin pitching staff. The rotation needs a lot of work, with Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija the only two surefire pieces, and Farhan Zaidi offloaded several bullpen members at the trade deadline.

Garcia was a starter with Colorado, though his stuff (low-90s fastball, curveball and changeup) probably would play better out of relief. Last season, Garcia was dominant in Double-A, going 8-2 with a 1.85 ERA while striking out 87 and walking 23 in 68 innings. Then he was promoted to Triple-A Albuquerque — in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League — and was hammered, posting a 6.90 in 13 starts. He debuted in the majors late in the season and surrendered seven runs in six innings.

Garcia, from Hawaii, likely will be another bullpen option, but it’s possible he enters the rotation mix to compete with Tyler Anderson, Tyler Beede, Dereck Rodriguez, Shaun Anderson and Conner Menez for slots.

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If you believe the Giants should not bother to upgrade any parts of their 40-man roster in 2020, then this post isn’t for you. This post is for those wondering just how the Giants could make some minor additions here and there that would upgrade the talent, not break the bank, and not tie up a huge percentage of payroll years from now.

Let’s start with the rotation, because that’s easily the worst part of the team.

You might say it’s the bullpen — because what good is starting pitching or an offense if the team can’t hold a lead? — but consider that with Shaun Anderson, Tyler Rogers, Wandy Peralta, Tony Watson, Trevor Gott, Jandel Gustave, and Sam Selman already in the mix and Trevor Gott himself signalling that the team always has a shot at finding a gem on the waiver wire, the bullpen might not look great when compared to last season, but it’s not completely devoid of talent.

Can the Giants really count on 34-year old Johnny Cueto to be an effective 160+ inning guy facing the likes of the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, and Braves? Can Jeff Samardzija survive another full season with a sub-8 K/9 and outperform his FIP by a full run again? That’s a lot to ask, and analytics-wise they both have a lot of red flags.

As much as I like Tyler Beede, he’s still developing. Logan Webb, too. Conner Menez and Andy Suarez might ultimately be dueling Ty Blachs in terms of their role on the roster (spot starter/long reliever), and I have my doubts about Dereck Rodriguez surviving Spring Training. The Giants claimed Tyler Anderson in part to stave off this rotation apocalypse and he definitely has the potential to be Hydrox Madison Bumgarner, but the actual rotation depth isn’t thin, it’s nonexistent.

Zaidi agrees!

”We’re looking at pitching depth and flexibility,” Zaidi said. “We’ve got a relatively young pitching group on our 40-man roster at this point. So we’d certainly be open to adding more veterans and more innings. We’re going to be open to anything and see what the market yields.”

Therefore, I submit to you left-handed pitcher Martín Pérez, formerly of the Twins.

He’s pitched fewer than 1,000 innings in his 8-year major league career and turns 29 just after Opening Day. He’s also coming off two confusing seasons: a 76 ERA+ in 2018, 90 ERA+ in 2019. He started 29 games and pitched 165.2 innings for Minnesota last year and it would appear the only reason why they cut him was to giving him a raise:

[...] Twins have some interest in bringing left-hander Martin Perez back in 2020, although clearly at a lower rate than the $7.5MM club option the team declined earlier this month. Speculatively speaking, it’d be interesting to see what the hard-throwing Perez could do in short relief stints, and the Twins don’t have much on the roster in terms of left-handed relief options beyond closer Taylor Rogers. Perez averaged 94.1 mph on his fastball as a starter in 2019 and would presumably see that velocity trend upward with a move to the bullpen.

I know what you’re gonna say: Bryan, you idiot, he doesn’t sound good at all!

Except, I think he kinda-sorta actually maybe could be pretty good next year, and especially if Oracle Park becomes his home stadium.

What got me thinking about Pérez in the first place was this post on the Rays’ SB Nation site, D Rays Bay: “Is Ryan Yarborough the new model for pitchers?” The premise here is that Yarborough’s talent for inducing soft contact has helped him excel (2.7 fWAR in 2019) despite a subpar skill set (84-88 mph with a cutter and sinker) and that maybe pitchers who are good at limiting hard contact especially in a mystery ball era have a distinct opportunity to succeed.

The average exit velocity against Yarborough in 2019 was 84.1 mph. His hard hit rate was 26.2%. Both of those were the best in baseball in 2019. Fifth place in both categories?

Okay, so, I spoiled the answer with the article headline, but yeah. It’s Martín Pérez.

If you set the Statcast minimum to 400 batted ball events, Martín Pérez’s contact against numbers really stand out.

85.4 mph exit velocity — top 4% of MLB
29.7% Hard Hit rate — top 7% of MLB
.304 xwOBA — 45th in MLB (of 154)
.386 xSLG — 28th in MLB (better than Paxton, Greinke, Yarbrough, Soroka)
Zaidi also mentioned in his comments about the roster goals this offseason that

“We’re still in a mode where we want to compete next year,” Zaidi said. “We want to play meaningful baseball as deep into the season as we can, which was our stated goal in 2019.”

But, yeah, I get it. The Giants stink. But what if they could add the Hydrox version of Madison Bumgarner and the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Hyun-Jin Ryu version of Hyun-Jin Ryu in the same offseason and all for the cost of one of these name brand players?

Oh, wait. I’m not pulling a Ryu comp out of nowhere. He’s 3rd on the average exit velocity leaderboard (85.3 mph) and 10th on the hard hit rate board (30.8%). Here’s a quick and dirty comp:

Pérez is younger (29 vs. 33)
Throws harder (94 mph fastball vs. 91 mph)
More durable (435.2 IP vs. 391.2 IP over the last three seasons)
Cheaper ($4 million in 2019 vs. $17.9 million)
2.3 fWAR Steamer projection vs. 2.9 fWAR
Here’s where Pérez falls down, though (2019 numbers):

1st time through order: .231/.295/.366
2nd time through order: .329/.384/.524
3rd time through order: .272/.345/.429
Pitches 1-25: .250/.327/.375
Pitches 26-50: .301/.360/.485
Pitches 51-75: .301/.374/.497
Pitches 76-100: .269/.325/.389
Pitches 101+: 0-for-6 with 2 strikeouts
Yeah, that’ll do it. Makes sense why the Twins would want to convert him into a reliever. This is also a guy who’s had a 4.95 ERA / 4.75 FIP over the last four seasons and the worst K/9 (5.75) in baseball since 2016. He has been exactly as valuable (6.4 fWAR) as Jhoulys Chacin and Julio Teheran and only more valuable (again — minimum 600 IP) than Andrew Cashner and Mike Fiers.

So, he has been an elite pitcher for rebuilding squads (first the Rangers then the Twins), which would seem to make the Giants an ideal landing spot for him. And as bad as those last four seasons have looked combined, I can’t help but notice that he raised his strikeout rate to a career-best 7.3 K/9 this past season while keeping his walk rate around where it has been the past few seasons (3.6 BB/9). He brutalized left-handed batters, too: .228/.291/.294 in 148 plate appearances. Could you imagine him facing the Dodgers?

Don’t forget that the Giants have a little bit of pitcher whispering ability in them. Do I think the Giants’ brain trust is better than the Rangers’ and Twins’ and could get Perez to ditch his sinker entirely and utilize his four-seamer or cutter more and to greater effect? Yes, absolutely. Trevor Gott is already a success story. Tyler Anderson looks setup to be another.

Maybe he doesn’t fit on the roster as a full-on starter, but maybe as an opener? A follower? The next Drew Pomeranz? This year’s Derek Holland? That might be the better comp because Zaidi paid Holland $6.5 million based on a 2-win projection for 2019, which is where Pérez projects to be for 2020. A hard-throwing lefty who gets soft contact and gets to face National League hitters and play at home in Oracle Park? In a competitive year he’d be an exciting project. In a year that figures to suck no matter what the Giants do, any diversionary projects must be embraced.

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The San Francisco Giants have claimed right-handed starter Rico Garcia off of waivers from the Colorado Rockies, using him to fill their remaining 40-man roster spot.

Garcia, 25, made his big league debut last season and was the Rockies’ No. 20 prospect.

The Giants are still looking for a manager and general manager, but that hasn’t stopped president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi from continuing his roster tinkering to make incremental improvements, announcing another series of moves after Garcia’s addition became official.

San Francisco also announced that they claimed righty Trevor Oaks off waivers from Kansas City and infielder Kean Wong off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

In acquiring Garcia, the Giants add an intriguing 30th-round pick from the 2016 draft who rocketed through the Colorado system, dominating the Double-A Eastern League in 13 starts last season (8-2, 1.85 ERA, 87 Ks in 68 IP) before getting the PCL treatment in Triple-A, going 2-4 with a 6.90 ERA.

Pitching in Colorado also didn’t do Garcia many favors, as he went 0-1 in two appearances, allowing seven earned runs in six innings.

Oaks, a seventh-round pick in 2014 by the Dodgers, made his big league debut this year and went 0-2 with a 7.24 ERA in four games (two starts), but in five minor league seasons, has gone 39-21 with a 3.26 ERA, including a 3.23 ERA as a 22-game starter in the ruinous PCL in 2018. He missed most of 2019 due to hip surgery.

Wong, a third-round pick of the Rays in 2013, had just 18 big league plate appearances last year, mustering just three hits. In seven minor league seasons, he’s slashed .287/.342/.383 and can play second, third, shortstop and all three outfield spots, making him a value add for the organization.

Adding young arms and a versatile glove with options left is very much a Zaidi move, and the kind that gave him roster flexibility during his first year in San Francisco.

San Francisco had room on the 40-man roster to add Garcia and injured starter Tyler Anderson (owner of 397 big league innings, claimed off waivers from the Rockies on Oct. 30) because Madison Bumgarner, Will Smith, Stephen Vogt and Pablo Sandoval entered free agency, and Kyle Barraclough was designated for assignment and outrighted to the minors.

Lefty reliever Tony Watson exercised his player option, and since the 60-day injured list disappears until the start of next spring, he was reinstated, along with Steven Duggar (shoulder) and relievers Trevor Gott (elbow) and Reyes Moronta (shoulder). The Giants also reinstated infielder Zach Green and Cristhian Adames, outrighting both of them to Triple-A and signing them both to minor league deals for 2020. They’ll both likely get non-roster invititations to spring training.

With Donovan Solano arguably the best backup middle infielder in baseball, Adames could find his way to the Majors as the backup for Evan Longoria, given the departure of Sandoval. The switch-hitting Adames went 7-for-22 (.318) in his September call-up

As far as the free agents, Bumgarner and Will Smith were tendered qualifying offers (each worth $17.8 million), and they have 10 days from Monday to accept. While Bumgarner is likely to test free agency, Smith has a more difficult decision at hand. Reliever Craig Kimbrel hit the market last offseason and looked to land a big contract, but because he was tendered a qualifying offer, the Chicago Cubs didn’t pick him up until after the draft, lest they risk losing a compensatory pick. The same went for starter Dallas Keuchel, who eventually signed with the Braves.

If both lefties leave, San Francisco would get two picks after the second round of June’s draft. The qualifying offers are rare for the Giants. They’ve only made three since they entered the collective bargaining agreement in 2012. The other went to Sandoval in 2014, and when he left for the Red Sox, the Giants used that pick to select Chris Shaw.

The one-year deal wouldn’t make sense for Bumgarner (he’ll likely command a multi-year contract), but relievers rarely make $17.8 million in a year, something Zaidi is banking on. He understands that’s a premium price to pay for a relief pitcher, but it’s about what the elite ones earn annually. Smith is just the fifth reliever to receive a qualifying offer.

With other teams skittish maybe to lose a draft pick, that could mean San Francisco could negotiate long-term extensions for both pitchers.

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Looking back at the 2019 Giants, with an eye toward the future. Previously: Brandon Belt, Sam Coonrod, Trevor Gott, Evan Longoria, Joey Rickard, Donovan Solano, Kevin Pillar, Alex Dickerson, Fernando Abad, Stephen Vogt, Madison Bumgarner, Will Smith, Pablo Sandoval.

Being tradeable has never been such a compliment.

A year ago at this time, Jeff Samardzija was stapled, glued and affixed to the Giants, fresh off an injury-filled 2018 in which he threw 44 2/3 ineffective innings. His contract looked like a bust that the Giants couldn’t derive value from or escape.

A resurgent 2019 has changed the equation. The question has become less about whether the Giants can deal him and more about what the Giants would do without him.

Samardzija, after spending much of his offseason in the Bay Area rehabbing with Giants staff following injuries to his shoulder, was middling for the first three months of the season, the Giants swirling the drain and Samardzija letting them plunge. His emergence in July coincided with the Giants’ furious run, nearly untouchable from July until the end of the season, throwing 97 2/3 innings of 2.67 ERA ball.

What led to Samardzija’s turnaround? The first key was health and regaining the strength in his shoulder. The second was a renewed pitch mix, relying more than ever on his cutter, which he threw 23 percent of the time, as opposed to 9.3 and 10 percent the past two seasons, and his four-seam fastball, valuing a pitch that has elite spinrate over the two-seamer he previously favored.

A healthy Samardzija falling back on pitches he had shelved in past years was a different Samardzija, having one of the best seasons of his life at 34, his 12th year in the majors. He finished among the NL leaders in ERA (14th, at 3.52) and WHIP (10th at 1.11), while making 32 starts and lasting 181 1/3 innings. He did that all while showing the effects of age, his velocity down (an average 86.3-mph slider became an 85.2-mph slider). He was the innings eater the Giants paid for, and one who inspired confidence every time he got the ball.

Which was a rarity for the 2019 Giants, who paired him with Madison Bumgarner, eventually got Johnny Cueto back in September, but otherwise trotted out trying-out starter after trying-out starter, none fully impressing. Now, chances are Bumgarner will not be back. And Samardzija, entering the final season of his deal, in which he’ll make $18 million, is a crucial piece if the Giants have any hope of being competitive.

There are teams to whom the Giants might be able to offload the big righty, who has a limited no-trade clause. But with a rotation that is filled with possibilities but not probabilities, Samardzija figures to start the season in San Francisco — even if he might not finish it there.

If Samardzija picks up where he left off, he’d be the trade-deadline piece the Giants didn’t cash in with Bumgarner. And while Samardzija appears to like the Bay Area, he’s pitched a total of three innings in the postseason; it would be hard to envision him blocking a trade to a contender. And as the Giants portended by non-tendering Kevin Pillar, the 2020 season will be more about progress than the postseason.

It’s a good bet that Samardzija will anchor the rotation in April. The better Samardzija pitches to start the season, the better the odds he’ll finish the season somewhere else.

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The Giants added yet another inexperienced option for their 2020 rotation Tuesday, signing former Rockies first-round pick Tyler Anderson.

San Francisco initially claimed Anderson Oct. 30 after Colorado placed him on waivers, but the team did not tender him an option by Monday’s deadline, making him a free agent.

Tuesday’s deal is a one-year contract, the Giants announced on Twitter.

The left-handed Anderson was the Rockies’ first-round pick in 2011 out of Oregon. He appeared in parts of four seasons for Colorado, but he only pitched in five games last season before undergoing significant knee surgery. His recovery from an operation to repair cartilage in the joint is expected to keep him out for at least part of spring training in 2020.

Anderson was surprisingly more effective at Coors Field than on the road in his time with Colorado, registering a 5.31 ERA on the road while posting a 4.23 ERA a mile above sea level.

The signing is a low-risk attempt to bolster the Giants’ rotation, which struggled in 2019 and appears destined to lose anchor Madison Bumgarner in free agency. Anderson will join veterans Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto, as well as young arms such as Tyler Beede, Logan Webb and Dereck Rodriguez in vying for a starting spot.

Anderson has one remaining minor league option, giving the Giants a little flexibility to be patient was he returns from his surgery.

The decision to non-tender Anderson on Monday was a mild surprise considering the left-hander boasts a decent major league track record and was thought to be relatively affordable entering his second year of arbitration.

MLB Trade Rumors predicted Anderson would earn $2.625 million in arbitration, but the Giants and Anderson likely came to an agreement for a smaller figure for next season due to the uncertainty of his recovery timetable. Tuesday’s deal allows the Giants to save a bit of money, but it also has the potential to benefit Anderson as the contract effectively eliminates his final year of arbitration in 2021, allowing the left-hander to become a free agent following next season.

The signing of Anderson leaves the Giants with three open spots on their 40-man roster.