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Kevin Pillar Jersey

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The deadline for teams to tender a contract to arbitration-eligible players is Dec. 2. Here’s the case for the San Francisco Giants keeping Kevin Pillar.
Center fielder Kevin Pillar led the San Francisco Giants in a number of meaningful offensive categories in 2019, including runs scored, RBI, home runs, and hits.

Of course, that could speak to the lack of overall offensive output from the rest of the lineup, but the point still stands.

Pillar is set to go through arbitration for his third and final time, and with a projected salary of $9.7 million, Giants team president Farhan Zaid will have to decide whether the pros outweigh the cons in keeping Pillar.

On the surface, it seems like an easy decision.

The long-time Toronto Blue Jays outfielder swatted 21 home runs and drove in 88 runs while producing a .259/.287/432 line. Additionally, Pillar was the Willie Mac Award recipient in 2019 for his inspirational play and leadership.

However, a dig beneath the hood reveals some red flags.

The 30-year-old is no longer the defensive wizard he used to be, which is concerning for a glove-first position player. According to the defensive metrics, Pillar posted a -5 DRS and a -1.6 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) in 2019. These numbers suggest that his work with the glove was below average.

That may be hard to believe considering he is one of the better defensive center fielders the Giants have had over the past decade. Plus, he makes plays like this:

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Outfield range, thy name is Kevin Pillar.
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In addition to the apparent defensive downturn, Pillar also does not have the type of offensive profile that Zaidi seeks. Across 645 plate appearances, he posted a meager 2.8 percent walk rate on his way to a .287 on-base percentage.

Zaidi generally seeks out players with good strike zone awareness and plate discipline, but these are not Pillar’s strengths. Rather, Pillar employs an aggressive, contact-oriented approach.

With all of that in mind, Pillar does not offer strong overall value.

In 2019, the 30-year-old was worth 1.4 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) while wearing the Orange and Black. Relative to his salary, there’s not much value to be had if he produces at that level again next season.

All of these red flags may compel Zaidi to seek out alternative options to fill center field next season. And, it seems he is willing to sacrifice production for development, as he told Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area the following:

“And again, I think the juncture that we’re in as an organization, we’re gonna have to view every baseball decision we make as a little bit of a tradeoff between production and development, and the present and the future,”

As Zaidi points out, the Giants will again be an organization in transition in 2020. That means he will want to use next season as another year for younger players to grow and develop by playing every day. Retaining Pillar may impede that goal.

With that being said, it’s entirely possible that the Giants will deem Pillar’s projected salary too costly, and opt instead to non-tender him.

Is that the right move?

The argument can certainly be made that he simply does not offer enough overall value. However, the Giants can do worse and have done much worse in recent seasons at the center field position.

The table below shows the Giants combined WAR by the primary center fielders each year since 2015, according to Baseball Reference:

San Francisco Giants Center Fielders bWAR, 2015-2019
Year Player(s) Combined bWAR
2015 Angel Pagan -2.0
2016 Denard Span 1.3
2017 Denard Span/Gorkys Hernandez -1.9
2018 Austin Jackson/Steven Duggar/Gorkys Hernandez 0.5
2019 Kevin Pillar/Steven Duggar 1.3

That list is tough on the eyes, and it is necessary to point out that Zaidi took over as the Giants team president following the 2018 season. In his first year, he was able to effectively find the Giants’ most valuable center field going back to 2015. It should also be noted that Pillar was not even on the Opening Day roster.

It is possible that Zaidi can find better overall value through trades or on the free-agent market. However, center field is a difficult position to fill, especially given the expansive range that one needs to show at Oracle Park.

The Giants have plenty of holes to fill on their roster, including adding rotation and bullpen depth, finding a corner outfield bat, and adding a utility infielder. Is it a wise move to add to that list by creating another hole if they choose to part ways with Pillar?

On a different note, the San Francisco Giants are still a business.

It is no secret that attendance and ticket sales have been declining in recent years, and ownership will likely want that trend to slow down in 2020.

Do fans go to the game to see Kevin Pillar play center field? Probably not.

However, he proved to be a positive contributor to the on-field product in 2019. Maintaining a decent product in 2020 should still be one of their goals, and keeping Pillar can help in achieving that end.

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There are an entire season’s worth of games and 21 home runs the Giants need to replace.

A day after they allowed Kevin Pillar to walk, not tendering the center fielder a contract for the 2020 season, they were linked to another outfielder who would make some sense.

MLB.com reported Tuesday the Giants are interested in Nicholas Castellanos, the free-agent corner outfielder who hits far better than he fields.

The 27-year-old longtime Tiger was flipped last season to the Cubs, with whom he starred, slashing .321/.356/.646 with 16 home runs in 51 games — all under the eyes of Scott Harris, the then-Chicago executive and now Giants general manager.

Castellanos is a righty who kills lefties, slashing .306/.358/.532 against southpaws for his career, which would be a nice fit for a Giants outfield that houses Alex Dickerson, Mike Yastrzemski and Steven Duggar — all lefties.

Upon letting Pillar go, Farhan Zaidi told reporters the Giants would be in the market for a power-hitting corner outfielder. Yet, he also said the primary reason for allowing the well-liked center fielder to hit the market was to provide an opening for the younger outfielders to see more at-bats. He insinuated the Giants would use 2020 as another developmental season, in which winning games is less important than letting youngsters make progress. While Castellanos is young, a splash of this relative magnitude would come as a surprise.

The suspect fielder — who’s probably a better fit for an American League team, but has somewhat settled into a corner-outfield spot after playing his way off third base — should command a four- or five-year pact worth about $15 million per season. The fact he does not have a qualifying offer attached to him means his market won’t be hurt like, say, Marcell Ozuna’s will. The Giants, who already have one additional pick from Will Smith signing with the Braves and should have another if Madison Bumgarner signs elsewhere, could see a deflated market for players with qualifying offers as a chance to strike.

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The San Francisco Giants are among the teams showing interest in Nicholas Castellanos, per a report from Jon Paul Morosi. They are one of at least four teams connected to the free agent corner outfielder.

Who is Nicholas Castellanos, you ask? No, seriously, who is he?

/rapidly types in Google

Apparently, he is a baseball player. Drafted in the first round by the Detroit Tigers in 2010, he made his debut a few years later. He was pretty good, netting some Rookie of the Year votes in 2014, then he got even gooder, posting an OPS+ of 120 or greater in three of the last four seasons. He also hates the Players’ Weekend uniforms and is iffy about the use of analytics in today’s modern game. So, one of us!

He also hits lots of homers and lots of doubles.

He finished this past season with the Chicago Cubs after getting traded for a couple of pitchers in the low minors at the deadline. His numbers were okay in Detroit—.273/.328/.462, good for an OPS+ of 105—but once he arrived to Chicago, he turned into the second coming of Alex Dickerson. In 51 games, he hit .321/.356/.646, smashing 16 home runs and 21 doubles, resulting in a 151 OPS+.

He grades out as a below-average glove and a mediocre baserunner. Baseball Reference lists him as a third baseman and rightfielder, but he hasn’t touched an infielder’s glove since 2017, and for a very good reason. In 2017 alone, he committed 18 errors and totaled up a whopping -14 DRS at the hot corner.

But, you know, dingers.

Did I embed his first career homer just because he hit it against the Dodgers? Maybe.

Castellanos is young—he’ll turn 28 in March—and because of the trade, he has no pesky qualifying offer to worry about. His defense might be awful, but his experience at third and in the outfield offers at least the façade of positional flexibility.

Most importantly, it’s worth remembering that this guy is in the front office.

MLB: 2019 Spring Training Media Days
MFW SB Nation’s photo tool doesn’t have an image of Scott Harris. Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
That’s Scott Harris That’s Farhan Zaidi, who you may or may not remember hired Scott Harris, the Giants’ new GM. Not coincidentally, Harris was part of the front office that traded for Castellanos in the first place, so he clearly sees something in the guy.

The question, of course, is will Castellanos want to sign with the Giants, who are A) bad and will be bad for the foreseeable future, and B) play in a park that depresses offensive value. As a righty, Castellanos’ power shouldn’t see too much of an impact. However, if you watched that first video, you may have noticed something curious.

How many of those opposite field home runs get sucked into the vortex that’s slowly eating away at Brandon Belt’s soul? It’s clear that Castellanos is at his best when he can use all the fields, and Oracle Park offers him one huge, brick wall–shaped obstacle in that regard.

At any rate, Castellanos was pretty open about how much he hated Comerica Park’s dimensions, so it will definitely be a factor in where he signs.

But hey, you never know! Maybe the Giants put that $10 million they saved from non-tendering Kevin Pillar to good use and come in second place in the free agent sweepstakes!

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Dubón emerged as one of the Giants’ most exciting late-season callups this year, so I think he definitely put himself in position to earn a starting infield job in 2020. He seems to have the tools to develop into an everyday player, as the Giants were impressed with his instincts, game awareness and pop from the right side.

I think I’m more curious to see how Dubón is deployed defensively next year. He showed that he can handle shortstop and second base, but he also started five games in center field during the 2016 Arizona Fall League, so it’ll be interesting to see if the Giants will give him some more exposure in the outfield to try to mold him into a super-utility player like the Dodgers’ Chris Taylor.

Do you have a list of top prospects the Giants have on their 40-man roster or prospects who will be protected from the Rule 5 Draft?

Right-hander Logan Webb (Giants’ No. 5 prospect, per MLB Pipeline), Dubón (No. 8), righty Melvin Adon (No. 15), left-hander Conner Menez (No. 17), outfielder/first baseman Chris Shaw (No. 21), catcher/first baseman Aramis Garcia (No. 23) and shortstop Abiatal Avelino (No. 27) are on the 40-man roster. The Giants opted not to add any other prospects to their 40-man roster ahead of Wednesday’s deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft.

That means outfielders Sandro Fabian (No. 16) and Franklin Labour (No. 20), catcher Ricardo Genoves (No. 22) and left-hander Garrett Williams (No. 28) will be among the Giants’ prospects who will be eligible to be taken by another club during the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 12. None of them have played above Double-A, though, which probably minimizes the risk of them being poached by another club.

Bart throws out Franco
Jul 8th, 2019 · 0:07
Bart throws out Franco
Obviously, the majority of Giants prospect talk centers around Joey Bart, but do you see any other prospects breaking through in 2020? Do you see the likes of Heliot Ramos, Sean Hjelle, Seth Corry (or any others) getting callups?
–Mike H., Sheffield, England

Ramos and Hjelle both finished the 2019 season at Double-A Richmond, so I could see them reaching the Majors next season if they stay healthy and productive. I think Hjelle in particular could follow a similar path as Webb and receive an extended look in the Giants’ rotation at some point in 2020.

Corry took some impressive leaps forward this year, but he hasn’t pitched above low Class A, so I think he’s a little further away than Bart, Hjelle or Ramos. 2021 might be a more realistic target date for him.

Any idea on who will round out the coaching staff?
–Larry H.

The only confirmed member of manager Gabe Kapler’s coaching staff so far is Ron Wotus, who will return as third-base coach. There figures to be a significant amount of turnover, as bullpen coach Matt Herges has already left to become the D-backs’ pitching coach and hitting coach Alonzo Powell has accepted a job with the Chunichi Dragons in Japan. Bench coach Hensley Meulens has also been offered a spot on the Marlins’ coaching staff, though he is also reportedly in the mix for the Mets’ bench coach opening.

The status of first-base coach José Alguacil, pitching coach Curt Young and assistant hitting coach Rick Schu remain unknown. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kapler tried to hire some of the coaches who worked under him during his tenure with the Phillies.

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.

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As things currently stand, the San Francisco Giants might not be incredibly fun to watch in 2020.

In fact, barring the re-signing Madison Bumgarner or the addition of another big-time player through free agency or trade, things could get downright boring.

However, one of the more interesting things to watch will be the progression of their young players, including Mike Yastrzemski, Mauricio Dubon, and Logan Webb as they enter their sophomore season.

At the same time, it will also be worth watching how top prospects Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos perform in the minors early in the season, and if they can prove they are ready for the big leagues in 2020.

There’s a good chance that one, if not both of them, will play for the MLB squad this coming season.

While both players ended the 2019 season at Double-A, Bart is two years older and arguably the more polished all-around prospect. That said, he’s lost some developmental time to injury, and will need to stay healthy going forward.

The 22-year-old hit .316/.368/.544 in 22 games with Double-A Richmond to close out the regular season, and he was arguably the most impressive player in the Arizona Fall League before he fractured his thumb on a hit by pitch.

In the 10 games he was able to play pre-injury, he hit .333/.524/.767 with four home runs and 10 RBI while tallying more walks (9) than strikeouts (7) in 42 plate appearances.

Ramos also played in the AFL, though his performance was decidedly less impressive. In 17 games, he hit .185/.250/.262 with 23 strikeouts in 72 plate appearances.

These are small sample sizes for sure, but it’s enough to give you the sense that Bart might be the first one to arrive in the majors.

That’s not to say Ramos hasn’t provided plenty of reason for optimism after hitting an impressive .290/.369/.481 with 24 doubles and 16 home runs in 102 games between High-A and Double-A. Of equal importance, he raised his walk rate from 6.5 to 9.5 percent, showing a more refined approach.

Both players could start the season at Triple-A, which would leave them one hot streak away from providing the MLB lineup with a boost.

However, versatility enthusiast Farhan Zaidi has said he wants Bart to learn another position, so that could delay his call-up. As for Ramos, he took significant steps forward in 2019, but he still has plenty of developing to do since he won’t turn 21 until next September.

I’ll say Bart sees the majors by midseason, while Ramos has to wait until September to get his shot, meaning both players make their San Francisco Giants debut in 2020.

No matter what, we should all look forward to these youngsters possibly contributing to the big league team in the near future. With Madison Bumgarner on his way out the door and Buster Posey in decline, they could be the future faces of the franchise.

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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:

1. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

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.

* * *

2. CINCINNATI REDS

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.

* * *

3. BALTIMORE ORIOLES

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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4. DETROIT TIGERS

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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The Giants have signed lefty Tyler Anderson to a one-year, Major League contract, the team announced Tuesday evening. Anderson, who was claimed off waivers out of the Rockies organization, had been non-tendered yesterday. Terms of the contract weren’t disclosed, but it’s safe to assume that the GSE Worldwide client will take home less than the $2.625MM he’d been projected to earn in arbitration.

Anderson, 30 later this month, underwent knee surgery over the summer and was limited to 20 2/3 innings with the Rockies in 2019 as a result. The former first-round pick had an impressive debut season with the Rox in 2016 when he pitched 114 1/3 innings of 3.54 ERA ball with 7.8 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a hefty 50.9 percent ground-ball rate. But Anderson’s results took a turn for the worse in 2017-18, as his ground-ball rate deteriorated and he became increasingly homer prone. Anderson did rack up 176 innings and make 32 starts for Colorado as recently as 2018, and he has a minor league option remaining, making him a somewhat intriguing depth piece for the Giants in 2020.

Anderson isn’t likely to be guaranteed a job in the rotation next season, but there’s enough uncertainty on the Giants’ starting staff that he should have ample opportunity to vie for a spot this spring. Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija have starting spots locked down, but the remaining spots currently look to be up for grabs in a competition featuring Anderson, Tyler Beede, Conner Menez, Logan Webb, Dereck Rodriguez and Andrew Suarez. That mix would change, of course, if (or perhaps when) the Giants make some additions via free agency or the trade market.

If Anderson is able to return to form, the Giants will be able to control him through the 2021 season via arbitration.

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The Giants kicked off free agency by extending qualifying offers to Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith. But on day two, they did what they spent a great deal of last year doing: adding players to the 40-man roster who had been discarded by other organizations.

The new Moneyball isn’t about exploiting the market’s inefficiencies to collect overlooked players and skills, it’s about self improvement and internal discipline. Can the Giants renovate their development pipeline to make good players great and former fodder-types good? That’s the gambit they and most of the top teams employ and it’s the path the Giants have taken in order to catch up.

I’ll admit it’s tough to get excited about waiver claims because the idea that one of them could become a star doesn’t stick after the first couple of times. A year into the Zaidi Method and my opinion of the lottery ticket development system is that the metaphor doesn’t really work. It’s more like a raffle. There’s always the potential for a prize to be really great, but most of the time, it’s just free junk you never really needed or if it is, it’s something you could’ve bought with your own money and to your own specifications.

Like the two qualifying offer players, the trio of adds don’t figure to stick around in 2020, but let’s dive in anyway. That’s the thing about the churn: it doesn’t matter what you do because it never stops.

Rico Garcia – RHP
We got word of this single transaction via a tweet earlier in the day and little did we know it would be the tip of the iceberg. At the time I saw the tweet, it felt a little exciting, as though the Giants had fleeced the Rockies for the second time this offseason. MLB.com currently ranks him as Colorado’s #20 prospect.

While he is just 5-foot-11, Garcia still manages to get good downhill plane, and his fearlessness on the mound helps his stuff play up. Thanks to a structured throwing program, he’s managed to add 3-4 mph on his fastball since signing and will sit in the low-90s with the ability to reach back for more with his four-seamer on occasion, while his two-seamer has cutting action to it. His breaking ball can be a plus pitch, with late knee-buckling action to it, thrown in the 80-81 mph range. His changeup gives him what should be a solid third option.

FanGraphs had some nice things to say, too:

Garcia will sit 93-96 and touch 97 early in outings but lose command and zip later in starts. There are a variety of opinions about Garcia’s delivery, as one source thinks his deliberately paced mechanics are easy for hitters to time, while another thinks Garcia hides the ball really well. He’ll flash an above-average changeup and slider, and shows an ability to manipulate the fastball to sink and cut at various times. He’s more of a middle relief candidate than potential rotation piece, but it appears Colorado has found a big league piece in the 30th round.

Hmm. Short stature but big heart? A starter who could also be a reliever? Structured throwing program? Has all the makings of a teachable player with an industry consensus projection as a borderline major league-caliber player (40 Overall on MLB.com; 35 Future Value on FanGraphs)? Woo-hoo!

He was a 30th round pick by the Rockies in 2016 out of Division II Hawaii Pacific University, the only school to offer him the chance to pitch after high school. On the day of the draft, he was in touch with a professional team in Germany who wanted to sign him (read this interview with him on MiLB.com). Three years later, he made his major league debut, an August start against the Red Sox.

His legal name is Josh, but there were too many Joshes in his youth so he went with Rico. He turns 26 in January and has three option years remaining. He’s just 5-11, 190 lbs, but what he lacks in height he makes up for with heart and an open mind.

“Being a 30th-round pick and having the first season that I did and going to extended and back to Boise, it was kind of a downer,” Garcia admitted. “But I’m not the type of guy who will put my head down and be quiet. I’m going to continue gathering all the information that I can. I just talk to my teammates and coaches. That’s probably been the biggest part of my journey so far.”

The way the Rockies saw it, the struggles only made Garcia study even harder at how to get pro hitters out with his three-pitch combination.

We can only assume the Rockies called him “RiGa”, as per the franchise’s storied nicknaming convention.

He ran though Colorado’s system as a starter but he might wind up being more of a long reliever type. He doesn’t have an overpowering fastball, but it does play up in shorter stints. He’s on the Giants because he’s better than what they already had. But also,

He turns 26 in January and has three option years remaining.

Taken together, his interesting backstory, willingness to learn, hard-to-pin down projected role, and quality skill set make him a perfect project player and raffle ticket grab.

Standout number(s)
It’s important to remember that any player the Giants add meets some base level of criteria they use to evaluate players. A track record of some sort is mandatory. From there, the distinction is all about ability, which again, the organization seeks to manage as part of their new development system.

So, here’s the main standout number that points to the cover quality bound to the book of all the player’s traits: 9.0

That’s his minor league career K/9. He has 400 strikeouts in 400.2 MiLB innings to just 128 walks. That’s . . . really good. Earlier this year, he set a Hartford Yard Goats single-game strikeout record with 11 as part of a strong Double-A campaign (1.85 ERA, 87 K in 68 IP).

Churnover odds
A young arm with strikeout stuff, the potential to start or relieve, and three options remaining makes him a 4/4 on the Farhan Scale, but all of these churnover odds will be based on the probability that they hang on the roster through the entire season. The Giants used 64 players last year (an NL record) and with a 26-man active roster for 2020, figure that record will be broken.

Garcia really struggled once he got to Triple-A and used the Major League Ball (6.90 ERA in 61.1 IP), and his size doesn’t do him any favors, but if he’s truly Drivelined his delivery to success, he’s going to continue to find work. Will that be in the Giants organization? I don’t know how to calculate odds, so I’ll say he has a 33.3% chance of not being churned over. For now, let’s enjoy this hasty Photoshop job on MLB.com:

Kean Wong
Hey! It’s Kolten’s brother! And another player from Hawaii. FanGraphs rated him as the Rays’ #28 prospect at season’s end, giving him a future value (FV) of 40, which means bench player. Before you guffaw, for the cost of a waiver claim, the Giants just added a 24-year old left-handed utility player with three options remaining.

From FanGraphs:

We don’t think he plays every day, but lefty bats with that kind of positional flexibility are good role players, and Wong is ready for the big leagues right now. The infield situation in Tampa Bay is very crowded and Wong may need a change of scenery to get an opportunity.

Welcome!

It should be noted that although he made his major league debut for them, he didn’t end his season with the Rays: the Angels grabbed him as a waiver claim at the end of September. The Rays waived him because of their extreme crunch in terms of infield talent. Must be nice. The Angels waived him this week and after playing just one game (he started and had a strikeout) for reasons.

In the meantime, please enjoy this hasty Photoshop job on MLB.com:

Standout number(s)
5. That’s the number of positions he’s played in the minors: second, third, left field, center field, and right field. He’s the purest version of a utility player who doesn’t figure to hit much (career minor line of .287/.342/.383).

Churnover odds
Zaidi loves him some positional versatility and Wong’s age, option situation, and pedigree (being Kolten Wong’s brother doesn’t guarantee a solid major league career, but he’s off to a good start, comparison-wise) seems to make him a decent bet to hang around. You could also get cartoony in the analysis here and think that a Rays castoff is better than the average castoff.

Wong’s situation differs from Garcia’s, too, in that the Giants already have a bunch of interesting arms in the system but very little by way of talented middle infielders. Again, not knowing how to calculate odds, I’ll give him a 66.7% chance of avoiding The Churn.

Trevor Oaks
Burch Smith finally has a companion tree in Trevor Oaks, another right-handed pitcher who, like Burch, is a starter/reliever. The Dodgers drafted him in 2014, just before Farhan Zaidi became the GM, and then was traded by Zaidi to the Royals in the deal that netted the Dodgers . . . uh . . . well, it was a three-team trade with the White Sox, too, and uh . . . hmm, carry the one . . . I see it now — for utility infielder Jake Peter and the cursed 1980s TV mechanic character-looking mustache of lefty reliever Scott Alexander:

As convoluted as the trade was, Oaks’ skill set is not. He’s a groundball pitcher in a launch angle world, relying primarily on a sinker-slider combination, all pitches averaging 89 mph or less. We might all be aware of the dwindling efficacy of a major league sinker, but look at what Statcast considers to be his slider:

That looks like a changeup, but the data doesn’t credit it as such. Also, it’s pretty devastating.

His prospects going forward look to be pretty good, actually. While he’s been a sinker-slider guy for most of his career, he also throws a cutter. The Giants remade Trevor Gott by getting him to ditch his sinker in favor of his four-seamer and last week they claimed Tyler Anderson from the Rockies who also has an effective cutter that could be harnessed better than his other fastballs, so maybe, just maybe, the Giants have a plan in place for a former Farhan farmhand.

Standout number(s)
5.3%.

That’s his minor league walk rate. It pairs with a greater than 50% groundball rate in 532.1 minor league innings. Groundball pitchers do still exist in the modern game and aren’t any worse than pitchers who don’t get a high volume of groundballs. It’s the sinker pitch that’s going away, but there are other ways of inducing weak contact and grounders, and if the Giants can harness Oaks’ natural sink and he can translate his minor league walk rate into something similar at the major league level, then they might have something. It’s the lack of velocity that gets in the way of an orgiastic projection.

Churnover odds
Oaks turns 27 at the end of Spring Training and even though he’ll have two options remaining, his generally soft repertoire might not help him keep up with whatever competition the Giants bring to camp. He certainly gets credit for being a guy Farhan Zaidi remembers and that might just well mean there’s something in his skill set they’re keen to unlock or continue developing, but on paper, I’m seeing a 90% chance of churn. So, get what will probably be your first and only look at the guy in a Giants hat:

The Giants’ 40-man roster is now full. The GM meetings begin next week, so either the Giants don’t plan to make any moves in the near-term or they’re getting ready to make many moves in the near term and plan to coincide their activity with whatever’s about to happen in Scottsdale. Yeah, there’s an excellent chance the Giants will try to sneak one, two, or all three of these guys through waivers as teams make free agent moves and trades.

The whole point of The Churn is to upgrade the back of the roster on the cheap. To that end, Garcia, Wong, and Oaks take the places of Kyle Barraclough, Mike Gerber, and Ricardo Pinto, who were all recently designated for assignment. Wong is three years younger and at least two positions more versatile than Geber; Garcia and Oaks can both start and relieve and have options available to them. They’re not the power arms, but they’re more versatile with more potential upside, and if the planned development system is fully operational, should make excellent candidates for improvement through it.

If it all works out, the Giants will have added a versatile utility infielder to spell or displace Brandon Crawford, Mauricio Dubon, and/or Donovan Solano, and two pitchers in the Shaun Anderson mold who could start or relieve, potentially filling out the back of the rotation or the middle of the currently vacant bullpen.

But don’t get attached. It’s just as likely that none of these guys play an inning for the Giants this year.

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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.