Tag: San Francisco Giants

What Is Madison Bumgarner Worth in Upcoming Giants Megadeal?

There’s what Madison Bumgarner is making, what he’s worth and how much he might make in his next contract.

Spoiler alert: These three things are very different.

What’s certain is the San Francisco Giants have gotten a lot more than they bargained for when they extended Bumgarner in April 2012. The left-hander’s contract guaranteed $35 million through 2017, with two club options in 2018 and 2019 worth at least $12 million and at most $16 million depending on his performance in Cy Young voting.

In five regular seasons since, this has paid for a 2.96 ERA across 1,072 innings. Bumgarner has further earned his cash by helping deliver World Series titles in 2012 and 2014. He won the latter championship almost single-handedly.

By Baseball-Reference.com’s version of wins above replacement, Bumgarner has only been the 11th-best pitcher in the league over the last five years. This is somewhere between hogwash and codswallop. He’s at worst a top-10 pitcher and more realistically a top-five pitcher.

Oh yeah, he’s still only 27.

It would be fun to speculate about what Bumgarner might earn on the open market in any offseason. But such a conversation is especially fun this offseason.

This is not only the winter he would have been a free agent had he not signed his extension but also a winter in which the demand for his services would’ve been elevated by the lack of other free-agent aces.

The total record payout for a free-agent starter is the $217 million David Price got from the Boston Red Sox last offseason. Bumgarner would have beaten that with room to spare, becoming easily the most expensive pitcher in history.

Of course, Bumgarner isn’t a free agent right now. There are thus only two ways he can land a contract more befitting of his talent: He can either ride three more healthy and productive years into free agency after 2019 or hope the Giants come calling with a second contract extension before then.

Not surprisingly, the Giants are very much interested in keeping him.

When the topic of Bumgarner’s future with the club was raised last October, Giants general manager Bobby Evans confirmed to Andrew Baggarly of the Bay Area News Group that preliminary conversations had taken place with Bumgarner’s representatives.

“When they’re interested in talking, we want to make sure we’re available,” Evans said. “But we don’t have a timeline. We want Madison to be here for a long time. At the right time, we’ll address this when his camp is ready to talk.”

In all likelihood, the right timeline for extending Bumgarner isn’t imminent.

The Giants are coming off their second straight year over the luxury tax threshold and are slated to be over the threshold again this year. The best time for them to extend Bumgarner would be after 2017, when they’re slated to have a fair amount of money come off their books.

Assuming his $21 million option for 2018 doesn’t vest, it’s a virtual lock the Giants will pay Matt Cain his $7.5 million buyout after 2017. Even more money would come loose if Johnny Cueto opts out of the final four years of his six-year, $130 million contract.

If Bumgarner and the Giants do indeed see a window after 2017, he’d be in a similar position age-wise to Stephen Strasburg when he signed his seven-year, $175 million extension with the Washington Nationals last May. That’s set to begin in his age-28 season in 2017. Bumgarner will be going into his age-28 season in 2018.

Of course, Bumgarner is a better, more durable and generally more accomplished pitcher than Strasburg, so an improvement on his deal would be in order. Say, something more like seven years at over $30 million per year.

While that wouldn’t match Bumgarner’s value on this winter’s market, he’d get the same going rate as Price, Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer, who are very much his peers.

However, there’s a rub.

Strasburg was only a couple of months from free agency when he inked his deal, so he had some leverage in his talks with the Nationals. Bumgarner will still be two years away from free agency if he negotiates next winter, giving him considerably less leverage.

“You’ll never get your value if you renegotiate early,” one agent told John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle at the winter meetings, although he also admitted, “Bumgarner might be the exception because he is so unbelievable.”

As unbelievable as Bumgarner is, he’d likely have to hold off on signing and continue being himself in 2018 and 2019 to gain enough leverage to squeeze market value out of the Giants. That would require him not to break down. His track record bodes well there, but no pitcher is unbreakable. He’d be taking a chance.

Alternatively, Bumgarner and the Giants could make it easy on themselves and find the middle ground next winter.

My best guess is that would involve going back to 2013 and taking a cue from Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners. When they agreed to a seven-year, $175 million extension, what they actually agreed to was a five-year, $135.5 million deal on top of money Hernandez was still owed in the final two years of his original contract of five years and $78 million. Although he signed coming off his age-26 season, his new deal wouldn’t begin until his age-29 season in 2015.

The ages won’t quite line up if Bumgarner and the Giants go this route after 2017. He’d be coming off his age-27 season and negotiating a deal that would start in his age-30 season in 2020. But since the timing and talent similarities are there, the only other big difference would be the passage of time and corresponding inflation.

So, let’s see…call it five years and $150 million, starting in 2020 and running through 2024?

That plus the money in Bumgarner’s 2018 and 2019 options would mean at least $174 million and at most $182 million over a seven-year span. That would be good money for him and also a considerable discount for the Giants. Ergo, the middle ground.

Since this is a complicated case with lots of ins, outs and what-have-yous, my best guess is obviously less than a promise. The Giants could choose to be more generous despite their leverage advantage. Or, Bumgarner could be the generous one. Or, he could choose to bet on himself in 2018 and 2019, either to gain leverage on the Giants or boost his value for free agency.

Regardless, Bumgarner is only going to get closer to some kind of big payday as time passes. When it comes, it’ll put his first payday to shame.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com. Contract and payroll data courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

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Giants Spring Training 2017 Preview: Predictions, Players to Watch and More

For the first time since the waning days of the George W. Bush administration, the San Francisco Giants didn’t win the World Series in an even year.

Now, as we prepare to inaugurate President Donald J. Trump, San Francisco will look to usher in an era of odd-year dominance. 

First, they’ve got spring training issues to sort out, including position battles in left field, at third base and the back end of the rotation, where a former franchise cornerstone is trying to resuscitate his career.

Limber up your commenting muscles and dig in when ready.

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Willie McCovey’s Tax Evasion Charges Pardoned by President Obama

President Barack Obama pardoned baseball Hall of Famer and San Francisco Giants great Willie McCovey on Tuesday of tax evasion. 

According to the Guardian‘s Ben Jacobs, McCovey was sentenced to two years of probation and fined $5,000 in 1996 after he falsified federal income tax returns.

The New York Daily NewsJake Becker reported McCovey did not disclose $33,000 he made at an autograph show in 1989. When McCovey entered his plea, he also reportedly came clean about $70,000 he did not report to the Internal Revenue Service following several other appearances at autograph shows. 

According to White House counsel Neil Eggleston, Obama granted 273 commutations and pardons on Tuesday. All told, Obama has issued 1,385 commutation grants—which represents the most by any president. 

The wide-ranging acts of clemency were announced three days before Obama is scheduled to leave office.  

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Predicting San Francisco Giants Depth Charts a Month Ahead of Spring Training

After finally running out of even-year magic in 2016, the San Francisco Giants don’t have many questions to answer before they try to conjure some odd-year magic in 2017.

After filling their closer need by signing Mark Melancon, the Giants should only have a couple roster spots up for grabs when they arrive for spring training next month. That makes it easy to spell out their depth charts on paper, which is what we aim to do.

Ahead, we’ll run through the favorites for San Francisco’s 25-man roster and the players who have first dibs should any spots open up. At the end, we’ll look at the next wave of players who will be in camp looking for work this spring.

That’s all there is to it, so let’s get to it.

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San Francisco Giants’ Top Free-Agent, Trade Targets Post-New Year

Signing All-Star closer Mark Melancon to a four-year, $62 million deal was a necessary move for the San Francisco Giants, but it was one that has seemingly limited the team’s ability to improve the roster elsewhere.

“I don’t think there’s anything more to ask of ownership,” general manager Bobby Evans said, per John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. “It’s more what I can do with what we have.”

That’s understandable for a team with one of the game’s highest payrolls, but if the Giants are going to put an end to Los Angeles’ run of four consecutive National League West crowns, they’re going to have to plug holes in left field and at third base.

What follows is a look at five players, both free agents and trade acquisitions, that the Giants could reasonably target to fill those holes—assuming that ownership is willing to stretch the budget just a bit more than it already has.

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Jimmy Rollins to Giants: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Jimmy Rollins isn’t ready to call it a career just yet. The veteran shortstop agreed to a minor league contract with the San Francisco Giants on Monday, where he’ll attempt to make the 25-man roster out of spring training.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported the news.

Rollins, 38, spent the 2016 season with the Chicago White Sox. He hit .221/.295/.329 with two home runs and eight runs batted in while playing in 41 games. The White Sox designated Rollins for assignment in June, and he did not latch on with another big league club.

Rollins spent his first 15 MLB seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies, earning three-All-Star selections, four Gold Gloves and the 2007 National League MVP. He is the Phillies’ all-time hits leader and stayed with the franchise through lean years before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers prior to the 2015 season.

That one-year stint was largely unproductive, with Rollins failing to post one win above replacement (minimum 20 games) for the first time in his career, per FanGraphs. He compounded that with an even worse stint in Chicago, and it seemingly looked like his career was over.

Still, it’s not a surprise Rollins would look to prolong his career. He told reporters before the 2016 season that he planned to play “until basically they take the uniform and tell me to go coach somewhere.”

The Giants already have a talented young shortstop in Brandon Crawford, so it’s unlikely Rollins will find much playing time at his regular position. They don’t have much in the way of platoon infielders, however, so Rollins will need to prove he can play away from shortstop. His only fielding experience away from short was one brief appearance at second base with the Phillies in 2002.

The Giants will need Rollins to prove he can play some at second and maybe even third to justify giving him a roster spot. It’s likely they’ll bring in other low-cost options who will compete for a utility spot. While none will have Rollins’ resume—he ranks among the greatest Phillies in history—his performance over the last two years doesn’t speak to his having much left in the tank.


Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter.   

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Mark Melancon Puts Giants Back on Level for NL West Dominance

The San Francisco Giants‘ run of even-year championships finally ended in 2016 in large part because their bullpen was cursed. Or to put it more bluntly, just not very good.

All they had to do to solve this was sign the most expensive relief pitcher in Major League Baseball history.

The honor now belongs to Mark Melancon. The early buzz at the first day of the winter meetings Monday had the Giants closing in on a deal with the veteran right-hander, and Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports was the first to report the terms: four years and $62 million.

Of course, the signing didn’t really become official until the three-time All-Star made like a true 21st-century man and took to Twitter:

If we want to be technical, it’s actually “a part.” While we’re at it, we should also note that Melancon’s four-year deal is really a two-year, $34 million deal with a two-year option. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, he can opt out after earning $17 million in each of the first two seasons.

But, whatever. There’s $62 million in guaranteed money available in Melancon’s deal, which is $12 million more than the $50 million Jonathan Papelbon got from the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011. Let the record show, there’s a lot more money in today’s MLB, and also, elite relief pitching is even more valued now than it was then.

And after 2016, the Giants certainly have more cause than most to value elite relief pitching.

Their bullpen lacked a true shutdown arm in 2016, and that led to no shortage of aches in manager Bruce Bochy’s plus-sized head. Despite finishing with a respectable 3.65 ERA, Giants relievers led the league with 30 blown saves.

That was a major factor in their winning just 87 games and falling four games short of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West race. And after Madison Bumgarner put the Giants in the National League Division Series with a shutout in the Wild Card Game, the Chicago Cubs‘ four-run rally in the ninth inning of Game 4 resulted in the Giants finally succumbing to their biggest weakness.

It’s a good thing the core of the 2016 Giants will be back for 2017. They’ll continue to ride a rotation led by Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto and a lineup led by Buster Posey, Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt.

But with Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla and Javier Lopez all free agents this winter, the Giants had just the window they needed to rebuild their bullpen. Signing Melancon is the biggest step forward they figure to make in that regard.

“It gives all of the club a peace of mind and confidence with as many close games we play that we have a lockdown guy for the ninth,” general manager Bobby Evans said, per John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Unlike fellow free-agent relief aces Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen—who will each make sure Melancon’s status as baseball’s most expensive reliever is short-lived—Melancon doesn’t get by on overpowering stuff that allows him to miss bats.

The 31-year-old worked at 91.0 mph with his cutter in 2016 and has struck out just 7.7 batters per nine innings over the last two seasons. To these extents, he’s bringing nothing new to a Giants pen that tied for 27th in fastball velocity and 27th in strikeouts per nine in 2016.

However, Melancon mixes command and movement as well as any reliever out there.

His pinpoint command is reflected in his rate of 1.4 walks per nine innings since 2013, but more so in how he works on the edges of the strike zone. Eno Sarris of FanGraphs has more insight on that.

When you can do that, you don’t need velocity. It’s good enough to have a loopy 12-to-6 curveball and a cutter that can do this:

Melancon may not miss bats with his approach, but he does miss barrels. Only Zach Britton has a higher soft contact percentage over the last two seasons, and much of Melancon’s soft contact ends up in the same place as Britton’s: on the ground.

“Perfect for our defense,” is how Evans characterized that aspect of Melancon’s game, per Chris Haft of MLB.com.

You know what else is great about command and movement? Unlike velocity, they’re not under constant threat to be taken away by age. Melancon’s a living reminder of that, as his command and his movement have remained on point even as he’s lost velocity over the last two seasons.

Assuming he can keep that up, he could be just as effective in the next four seasons as he’s been in the last four seasons. A good way to punctuate that is to look at where he places among his fellow relievers in ERA since 2013:

Look at that! First. This guy must be pretty good.

And not only that, but he’s also reliable too. Despite not becoming a full-time closer until 2014, Melancon still leads all relievers in win probability added over the last four seasons. Other relievers have been more overpowering, but all but one of them (Britton) have had more meltdowns than Melancon (minus three others who tied him).

To be fair, there would have been an equally large number of things to rave about if the Giants had signed Chapman or Jansen instead. They are also elite relief aces, and either arguably would have been an even better solution for what ailed the Giants in 2016.

Nonetheless, nobody should be thinking the Giants merely settled for Melancon. They paid a pretty penny for a big-time improvement in an area where they needed just that. And with him in place, you can already see a team that ought to be more well-rounded in 2017.

And despite FanGraphs’ early projections giving the Dodgers the edge in the 2017 NL West race, they still have moves to make before they’re on the Giants’ level. The Dodgers have talent, but none of it is located at third base, second base or closer.

Melancon’s signing filled the only major hole the Giants had. All they need now is some outfield depth, a back-end starter and a supporting arm or two for their bullpen. Not too much to ask for.

There’s still a lot of winter left. But for now, the Giants can rest easy knowing that lifting the curse on their bullpen has given them the upper hand in the NL West.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked. 

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Mark Melancon to Giants: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Mark Melancon spent the second half of the 2016 season with the Washington Nationals, but the 31-year-old closer is moving on from the reigning National League East champions after signing with the San Francisco Giants on Monday.

The Giants announced the deal Monday after Buster Olney of ESPN first reported the agreement. Melancon would comment on the news via Twitter: 

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported the contract is for four years and $62 million. The deal includes an opt-out clause after the second season, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area broke down the financial terms:

Olney noted Melancon’s deal is a record one, but he spoke to a National League evaluator who said “that’ll soon be broken.”

The Nationals acquired the three-time All-Star from the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 30 to help fortify the closer’s role in the nation’s capital.

After Melancon recorded 30 saves, a 1.51 ERA and a 0.960 WHIP in 45 appearances with the Pirates, he proceeded to hold down the fort with the Nationals.

Melancon notched 17 saves for Washington while finishing 28 games and appearing in 30 in total. By the time his two-month stint in D.C. came to a close, Melancon had notched a 1.82 ERA and 0.809 WHIP.

He finished an MLB-best 67 games thanks to a three-pitch arsenal comprised of a fastball, wicked cutter and curveball, according to FanGraphs.

Speaking to reporters in August, Melancon credited his time with the New York Yankees and famed closer Mariano Rivera for the development of his cutter.

“I was in the pen with Mariano,” Melancon said. “I got to watch that a lot from him and just sit behind the plate, sit behind him pitching, and not only did I notice how important the cutter and the movement and when to throw it in, backdoor it and all that stuff, but just his location and how important that was.”

Based on the way Melancon performed a season after he tallied a major league-best 51 saves, targeting him in free agency was a no-brainer for the Giants since they ranked 15th in bullpen ERA (3.65) among all MLB teams in 2016.

Bringing Melancon aboard also gives the Giants some peace of mind at the back end of their bullpen.

San Francisco blew an MLB-high 30 saves last season, which contributed to a woeful 58.9 save percentage. Only five teams recorded lower save percentages.

That number figures to improve if Melancon can replicate the success he’s experienced over the past couple of years once he arrives in the Bay Area.

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J.D. Martinez Would Be Ideal Fit for Power-Starved Giants

Before the San Francisco Giants‘ run of even-year championships was killed by their bullpen at the end of 2016, it was wounded by their lack of power.

Their leading home run hitter was Brandon Belt, who cranked just 17 homers. 17. The bullpen shouldn’t be forgotten, but this is also a problem that needs fixing this winter.

It seems the Giants have just the guy in mind.

It’s not Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, Mark Trumbo or any of the top free-agent sluggers. It’s on the trade market that the Giants have their eyes, specifically on Detroit Tigers right fielder J.D. Martinez. This from Jon Morosi on MLB Network: 

The recommended dosage of salt to take this with might be more than a grain. As Morosi went on to note, the talks between the Giants and Tigers occurred at last week’s general managers meetings and “have yet to advance beyond initial stage.”

However, Martinez’s availability is not in question. Tigers general manager Al Avila promised in October (via Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press) that “changes are coming” as the club seeks to go from old and expensive to young and cheap. Trading Martinez, 29, would help the process.

Also not in question is why the Giants would be interested in a player like Martinez.

With Angel Pagan off the books, one of the needs the Giants must fill this winter is in left field. That would also be a good place for them to add some power to a lineup that produced only 130 home runs in 2016, third fewest in MLB. Pagan and other Giants left fielders hit only 14 home runs.

Martinez would seem to have just the power bat for the job. After sputtering out of the gate with the Houston Astros in the first three seasons of his career, he changed his swing and has produced a .540 slugging percentage and 83 home runs over the last three seasons.

Martinez peaked with 38 homers in 2015. Remember the last time the Giants had a guy hit that many home runs? It was in 2004. Some guy named Barry Bonds. 

Before we go any further, let’s be careful not to mischaracterize Martinez as a perfect player.

For one, his defense is a question mark at best and a black hole at worst. Defensive runs saved (minus-22) and ultimate zone rate (minus-17.2) rated him as a terrible right fielder in 2016. That’s out of line with how he rated in 2015 but in line with how he’s rated in right field and left field his entire career. 

For two, Martinez has an Achilles’ heel when he’s in the box. He swings and misses a lot, striking out in 26.1 percent of his plate appearances over the last three seasons. So don’t read too much into his .299 average in this span. He’s not as advanced a hitter as that makes him look.

But more so than many other teams—maybe more so than every other team—the Giants are in a position to hide Martinez’s shortcomings.

Pagan aside, the Giants will be returning every key member of a truly great defense in 2017. According to Baseball Prospectus, the only National League team better than the Giants at turning batted balls into outs in 2016 was the Chicago Cubs. They of the historically awesome defense.

The Giants can thus afford to swallow a defensive downgrade in left field if it means getting more offense. And on that front, taking on Martinez would not require an already strikeout-prone lineup to get even worse. The Giants had the lowest strikeout rate in the National League in 2016. They can afford a net loss in that department.

As long as Martinez were to keep the power coming, of course.

This is where I was initially feeling skeptical about their interest in Martinez. The danger of acquiring him, after all, would be paying a heavy price for his power and then watching AT&T Park suffocate it with its sheer AT&T Park-ness.

But courtesy of Baseball Savant, here’s a picture that eases that concern:

These are all the home runs Martinez has hit over the last three years overlaid onto AT&T Park’s dimensions. The only area where he would have lost home runs is in triples alley. And if a player is going to lose home runs anywhere, it may as well be in a place that’s called “triples alley” for a reason.

It’s not surprising Martinez’s recent dinger prowess passes the AT&T Park test. He doesn’t get cheated. Over the past three seasons, only two players have made hard contact at a higher rate:

  1. David Ortiz: 44.2%
  2. Giancarlo Stanton: 43.3%
  3. J.D. Martinez: 42.4%

The obligatory buzzkill is the Giants can’t have Martinez for free. But with just one year left on his contract, he’s not the kind of guy who’s going to require some kind of massive commitment. And with an $11.75 million salary headed his way, he’s not grossly underpaid either.

As such, the Giants shouldn’t have to send their entire farm system to the Tigers to get their man. Jason Beck of MLB.com floated the possibility of the Tigers getting one of the Giants’ top outfield prospects (Mac Williamson, Jarrett Parker, Austin Slater) and/or a young pitcher (Tyler Beede).

As much as the Giants would probably prefer to hang on to their young talent, they’re in no position to get stubborn.

With Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto leading their rotation and Buster Posey, Belt and Hunter Pence leading their lineup, the Giants are very much in win-now mode. They’re precisely the kind of team that should be interested in surrendering prospects for an immediate upgrade. And if they get Martinez, they would then only need to go shopping for bullpen arms on an offseason market that has plenty of them.

Of course, they don’t necessarily need to get Martinez first. But at some point, the Giants should push their talks with the Tigers beyond the “initial stage.”


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked.

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Giants Should Sign 2 of Chapman, Jansen and Melancon to Chase 2017 Title

The San Francisco Giants need to bolster their bullpen.

The Giants know it. Every other team knows it. Your second cousin who’s wrapped up in the election and doesn’t really follow baseball knows it.

Luckily for San Francisco, there are a handful of elite closers available in an otherwise-tepid free-agent pool. The Giants, conventional wisdom suggests, will make a strong push to sign Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen or Mark Melancon.

Here’s a thought: What if they signed two of them?

No, it won’t be cheap. Chapman is seeking a deal in the $100 million range, per Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago. He probably won’t get it, but it gives you a sense of where negotiations will begin.

Is it worth it for San Francisco, or any team, to blow most of its offseason capital on a couple of relievers?

Yes, if they are the right relievers.

The Giants have other needs, to be sure. They hit the third-fewest home runs (130) last season and scored the fourth-fewest runs after the All-Star break. They’ve also got an impending hole in left field. 

They could address both issues by signing Yoenis Cespedes, who opted out of his contract with the New York Mets.

The Cuban slugger would instantly upgrade San Francisco’s offense, no argument there. He’s also 31 years old and could command $150 million. 

Really, the Giants lineup isn’t in terrible shape. The team has a homegrown infield core of catcher Buster Posey, shortstop Brandon Crawford, first baseman Brandon Belt and second baseman Joe Panik.

Right fielder Hunter Pence missed more than 50 games to injury in 2016. If he can stay healthy, his reliable 20-plus-homer pop will provide a boost.

The Giants also have hopes for the young duo of Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson, who have shown promise in limited action and could take over in left.

In the rotation, meanwhile, San Francisco is stacked with ace Madison Bumgarner, co-ace Johnny Cueto, lefty Matt Moore, righty Jeff Samardzija and last year’s surprise rookie, Ty Blach.

Which brings us back to the bullpen. Overall, Giants relievers ranked exactly in the middle of the pack in 2016 with a 3.65 ERA. But closer Santiago Casilla wilted as the season progressed and finished with an untenable eight blown saves.

By the time the playoffs rolled around, San Francisco was counting on an ill-defined committee, which collapsed in spectacular fashion in Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the Chicago Cubs.

The Giants enter 2017 in need of reinforcements. Casilla is a free agent, along with setup man Sergio Romo and lefty specialist Javier Lopez, all of whom were key parts of San Francisco’s 2010, 2012 and 2014 title runs. 

San Francisco recently met with representatives for Chapman, Jansen and Melancon, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi

That’s no shock, but it doesn’t explain why the Giants would go for more than one of them.

For that, you need to look to the Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians, who proved in 2015 and 2016 how far a loaded bullpen can carry you.

In 2015, Kansas City rode the trio of Greg Holland, Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis to a title. This year, the Indians overcame a depleted rotation and made it to Game 7 of the World Series thanks to the 1-2 bullpen buzzsaw of closer Cody Allen and super-setup man Andrew Miller.

It’s the new model. The secret sauce for clubs seeking October success. 

The Giantswith their competent lineup, strong starting rotation and No. 2-ranked team defense—could replicate it.

Imagine, for a moment, if San Francisco inked Jansen and Melancon. The former was an All-Star last season for the rival Los Angeles Dodgers, posting a 1.83 ERA with 104 strikeouts in 68.2 innings. Melancon, meanwhile, put up a 1.64 ERA in 71.1 innings with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals

Melancon is 31 and Jansen 29. A long-term commitment to either would carry risk on the back end. Same goes for the 28-year-old Chapman, whose triple-digit heater and 1.55 ERA in 58 innings are offset from an optics standpoint by the domestic violence suspension that cost him 30 games in 2016.

And there’s always the issue of convincing a closer to accept a setup role.

Still, there’s upside aplenty, as McCovey Chronicles’ Grant Brisbee spelled out:

While the Giants will hopefully be active on the Mark Melancon and Kenley Jansen market, there’s a small, unrealistic part of me that wants both of them. That’s how to build a not-so-secret postseason weapon. Have one guy who can lock down the ninth inning (and eighth, too, if it’s October), and have one guy who can float around and be an automatic face card to slip in whatever hand you’re dealt.

There are other routes the Giants could go. General manager Bobby Evans was in attendance at Holland’s recent showcase, as the former Kansas City closer works his way back from Tommy John surgery, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

Holland looked healthy, Sherman notes, though he’s yet to regain his mid-90s velocity.

His agent, Scott Boras, suggested Holland “would be ideal for a lot of teams who cannot do the five- or six-year commitment it might take for three guys out on the market,” per Sherman.

San Francisco could also give closing duties to an in-house option such as Hunter Strickland, whose fastball tickles 100 mph. 

There’s wiggle room, and the Giants shouldn’t dismiss the notion of targeting a bat like Cespedes

But this is a chance to be bold and, yes, a little reckless. Picture Strickland in the seventh followed by Melancon and Jansen. Or perhaps Holland if the Giants believe he’s healthy, or Chapman if they can get past his baggage and if his price inches down.

That’s the type of pen that could propel a club to glory. For the Giants, it could erase the bad taste of last season’s early playoff exit and maybe even bring another trophy home to the Bay.

It’ll take a boatload of cash. It’ll depend on the pitchers in question spurning other suitors, of which there will be many. 

Why not take a crack, though?

It’s an odd year. What have they got to lose?


All statistics courtesy of MLB.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.

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