Tag: Santiago Casilla

Santiago Casilla to A’s: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Veteran reliever Santiago Casilla has found a new home this offseason, agreeing to a deal with the Oakland Athletics.  

Robert Murray of FanRag Sports first reported Casilla and the A’s were nearing agreement on a two-year deal. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle confirmed the deal.

Casilla has spent the previous seven seasons with the San Francisco Giants, playing an integral role in the team’s World Series wins in 2012 and 2014 with a 0.63 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 14.1 innings over 20 appearances. 

The 36-year-old did start to show signs of slowing down last season, though he was hardly the only Giants reliever who struggled in 2016. His strikeout and strikeout-to-walk rates were fine, but opposing hitters did seem to be squaring him up with greater ease.

It’s hardly a surprise to see Casilla start to take a step back. He has pitched in a lot of games for the Giants over the years, recording at least 50 appearances six times in the last seven years, not to mention additional innings in the postseason. 

Granted, Casilla was rarely overextended in San Francisco. His innings total ranged from 50.0 to 63.1 since 2009, a testament to Giants manager Bruce Bochy’s ability to get the most out of his relievers. 

Casilla was an attractive free agent because of his extended role as the Giants closer, including racking up a career-high 38 saves in 2015. 

The A’s have taken a unique approach with their roster this offseason. Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reported they offered Edwin Encarnacion a higher average annual salary of $25 million than what the slugger ultimately took from the Cleveland Indians, but the years on the contract were shorter. 

After missing out on Encarnacion, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, A’s general manager Billy Beane gave 36-year-old outfielder Rajai Davis $6 million for one year. 

After losing 93 games last season, the A’s are trying to build a more competitive roster in 2017. Casilla likely won’t be their closer, as Ryan Madson is coming off a solid season in the role and is under contract for two more seasons. 

However, Casilla does give A’s manager Bob Melvin more length to take advantage of in late-game situations. The team finished 20th in bullpen ERA last season, and its 23 blown saves were the seventh-most in MLB, per ESPN.com.

There was a clear separation at the top of this year’s market for relievers, with Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon setting the tone and everyone else following in their wake. 

Given Casilla’s age, he may not be the same pitcher two years from now, but his ability to miss bats makes him a safe bet to play a key role in the bullpen for the Athletics in 2017.  

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Santiago Casilla Comments on Being Unused in Game 4 NLDS Loss vs. Cubs

The San Francisco Giants used five pitchers in a four-run, ninth-inning rally that saw them get ousted from the National League Division Series by the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night, and veteran Santiago Casilla was highly emotional about not being among them.

Following the Giants’ shocking 6-5 loss in Game 4, the 36-year-old veteran was in tears as he commented on manager Bruce Bochy’s decision to leave him on the bench.

According to Carl Steward of the San Jose Mercury News, Casilla said:

I never had that moment before during five years here. I had a little struggle. But everybody [in the bullpen] has had their bad moments. I think they forgot all the great moments I’ve had here. I’ve pitched a lot in the playoffs and done my job. I know I am a good pitcher.

Casilla’s career postseason numbers are sparkling, as he boasts a 0.92 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and four saves in 19.2 pressure-packed playoff innings.

The 13th-year major leaguer struggled mightily down the stretch during the regular season, however, as he posted a 5.87 ERA in September and October. Casilla ended the campaign with a 3.57 ERA and nine blown saves in 31 opportunities, which prompted the Giants to remove him from the full-time closer role.

In Casilla’s stead, Bochy used Derek Law, Javier Lopez, Sergio Romo, Will Smith and Hunter Strickland in the ninth inning Tuesday.

They combined to allow four runs on four hits and one walk without recording a single strikeout.

Casilla finished the 2016 playoffs with just 0.2 innings to his credit, allowing two hits and no runs. While he has posted a combined 69 regular-season saves over the past two years, Casilla’s time with the Giants may have come to an end Tuesday since he is set to hit free agency.

Although Casilla’s late-season play didn’t inspire much confidence, his experience in big moments may have trumped that on the playoff stage.

Bochy is a likely future Hall of Famer, with three World Series titles to his credit, and he often seems to push the right buttons during the playoffs, but leaving one of the best clutch playoff relievers of the past several years in the bullpen was a questionable decision.

It may not have quite reached the level of Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter opting against using dominant closer Zach Britton in an American League Wild Card Game loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, but Bochy’s choice is likely to be second-guessed for many years to come.


Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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San Francisco Giants’ Investment in the Bullpen Paying off Early in 2013

In the top of the sixth inning Monday night, the Colorado Rockies knocked out San Francisco Giants‘ starter Madison Bumgarner. They coaxed five walks out of him on the night and cut the Giants’ 3-0 lead to 3-2 against him.

The Giants bullpen would let the Rockies get no further. Santiago Casilla stranded the tying run at second base with a strikeout of Yorvit Torrealba to end the sixth before throwing a perfect seventh.

Jeremy Affeldt followed with a scoreless eighth inning. Sergio Romo allowed a leadoff double in the ninth, but then struck out the next three hitters to end the game for his fourth save of the season.

The Giants bullpen combined to throw 3.1 innings of scoreless baseball Monday night. They struck out six of the 11 hitters they faced while only allowing one baserunner. It was a dominant performance that helped vindicate general manger Brian Sabean‘s decision to invest heavily in the bullpen this offseason.

One of Sabean‘s first moves of the winter was to re-sign Affeldt to a three-year, $18 million contract. He also gave Casilla a three-year, $15 million extension with a club option for a fourth year. He then finished by buying out Romo’s two remaining seasons of arbitration for $9 million.

According to research by Grant Brisbee of McCovey Chronicles, the Giants now have the second most expensive bullpen in the game after Sabean‘s winter shopping spree. They are eighth in percentage of payroll allocated to the bullpen.

It’s sabermetric dogma that it isn’t good business to invest heavily in the pen. Relievers can be created out of thin air on the cheap, which saves resources for the rest of the roster.

Romo—a 28th-round draft pick—and Casilla—whom the Giants signed as a minor league free agent—are good examples of why teams shouldn’t overpay for relief pitching on the free agent market.

However, Sabean decided that he had to spend some money to keep his three horses off the market. Since Casilla came aboard in 2010, he’s put up a 2.25 ERA for the Giants—good for eighth best in baseball among relievers. Romo has the third best ERA at 1.81 during that period. Affeldt‘s 3.03 ERA since 2010 is pretty good, too.

A large part of their success is due to their ability to pitch effectively against opposite-handed hitters. Over the last three years prior to 2013, Romo has held lefties to a weak .590 OPS, Affeldt has held righties to a .734 OPS and Casilla has held lefties to a .687 OPS (the league average OPS has hovered between .719 and .728 from 2010-12).

The Giants are more dependent on the bullpen than most teams because they play so many tight, low-scoring games in their spacious home ballpark. They absolutely need to win close games in order to make the playoffs because they don’t have an explosive offense that can consistently blow the opposition out.

So far this season, Romo and the bullpen have saved leads of 3-0, 5-3, 1-0 and 4-2. Last year, the Giants tied the Reds for the best winning percentage in one-run games by going 30-20. They were 33-22 in one-run games the year before and 28-24 in one-run games on their run to the first World Series title in 2010.

The relief trio of Affeldt, Casilla and Romo has helped the Giants hold on to a lot of close leads on the path to winning two out of the last three World Series titles. Sabean invested heavily to retain them this winter and reward them for a job well done. On Monday night, he looked wise for having done so.

Early in 2013, the Giants’ formula for winning looks a lot like it did over the last three years. That means the bullpen is going to be counted on to save a lot of tight games.

So far, Sabean‘s veterans appear up to the task once more.

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San Francisco Giants: Did They Overpay for Santiago Casilla and Jeremy Affeldt?

Earlier this offseason, when the San Francisco Giants re-signed reliever Jeremy Affeldt to a three-year, $18 million contract, I argued that the club overpaid to retain the 33-year-old lefty. The Giants have since given a three-year, $15 million extension to 32-year-old reliever Santiago Casilla.

In retrospect, neither player seems to have been given an egregiously large contract given the way the market has shaken out. But I generally don’t like paying market prices for veteran relievers because relief pitchers tend to be more fungible than starting pitchers and everyday position players—and the latter two categories are harder to find.

For example, the Giants turned up Casilla on a minor league deal prior to 2010 after he had washed out by putting up a 5.96 ERA with the A’s the season before. In three years with the Giants, he’s put up a combined 2.22 ERA.

It’s also worth noting that neither Casilla nor Affeldt projects to be the Giants closer in 2013. Manager Bruce Bochy may use them both to close occasionally depending on matchups, but it’s more likely that Sergio Romo will retain the job.

Romo earned that role with his outstanding performance as the closer during the final month of the regular season and throughout the postseason. He saved all four of his playoff chances with a 0.84 ERA, and he nailed down all of his regular-season save opportunities in September and October.

Thus, it doesn’t make sense to compare Casilla and Affeldt‘s contracts to those of Brandon League and Jonathon Broxton, as both were signed to be closers for their respective teams.

Instead, it’s more instructive to look at the contracts handed out to setup men this winter using contractual data from Baseball Prospectus’ Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

The Cubs signed Shawn Camp to a one-year deal at $1.35 million and Kyuji Fujikawa to a two-year deal worth $9.5 million, with a club option for a third year. Tampa Bay re-signed setup man Joel Peralta for two years and $6 million with club options from 2015 through 2017.

The Pirates re-signed Jason Grilli to a two-year, $6.75 million deal to be their setup man, but after they dealt closer Joel Hanrahan, Grilli will likely become the team’s closer.

The Brewers signed lefty relievers Tom Gorzelanny (two years, $5.7 million) and Mike Gonzalez (one year, $2.25 million). The Los Angeles Angels signed lefty reliever Sean Burnett to a two-year, $8 million deal with a third-year club option.

The largest contract given to a setup man was the Phillies‘ two-year, $12 million agreement with Mike Adams.

Thus, if the Giants were truly paying market prices for Affeldt and Casilla, they would have given them both two-year deals with club options for a third season at an average annual value of between $3 and $6 million. The Giants didn’t overpay in terms of monetary value, but they probably guaranteed one year too many.

Given that the team is in win-now mode, it doesn’t really matter if they have to slightly overpay to retain the guys they want. Casilla and Affeldt have both been very good in terms of run prevention with the Giants, so keeping both players in the fold makes sense.

The final thing to consider here is opportunity cost. Casilla was going to be in the fold for 2013 regardless because the Giants controlled him for one more season before he could become a free agent. However, the $8 million the team agreed to pay Affeldt next season could have gone towards upgrading left field, which appears to be the weakest spot on the roster.

Nick Swisher reportedly wanted to sign with the Giants, and he will make $11 million to play for the Indians next season after signing a four-year, $52 million deal with them. Had the Giants let Affeldt walk, they could have used the money allocated to him, plus the $2 million given to reserve outfielder Andres Torres, to make a run at Swisher. Upgrading from the Gregor Blanco-Torres platoon to Swisher in left field would have more than made up for the loss of Affeldt in the bullpen.

The Giants ultimately made retaining Affeldt more of a priority than upgrading left field. They won the World Series with Blanco starting in left for the final two months of the regular season and all of the postseason, so they probably figure that they can win it all with him out there again next season. He’s also younger, much cheaper and a better defender and baserunner than Swisher.

The Giants didn’t drastically overpay in re-signing Affeldt and extending Casilla. However, the resources used to retain Affeldt might have been better spent on a left-field upgrade.

Alas, I have the benefit of hindsight. But the Giants have to make these decisions in real time.

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MLB Trading Deadline: San Francisco Giants GM Brian Sabean Delivers the Goods

The San Francisco Giants went into the trading deadline needing to fill three obvious areas of deficiency: a lack of power in the lineup, a lack of depth on the bench and in the bullpen due to the loss of closer Brian Wilson earlier this season.

For Giants’ general manager Brian Sabean, two out of three wasn’t bad.

The late-inning reliever never materialized, because it didn’t exist. The relievers that the Giants were rumored to be interested in were ultimately not legitimate options to replace Santiago Casilla in the ninth inning.

Jonathan Broxton and Brandon League were the two biggest names that were moved on the relief market, and while both throw hard, neither misses enough bats to be considered an upgrade on Casilla. You can’t fault Sabean for failing to acquire bullpen help when the help that was out there wasn’t good enough to warrant selling part of the farm for.

Casilla has been awful over the past month, but his strikeout rate per nine innings (K/9) of 10.2 is much better than that of Broxton (6.31 K/9) or League (5.44 K/9).

In acquiring Marco Scutaro and cash from Colorado for minor league non-prospect Charlie Culberson, Sabean bought low on a player who is a good bet to bounce back in the second half. Scutaro struggled in Colorado, but the main culprit was simply bad luck. Despite an excellent line drive rate, Scutaro saw his batting average drop to .271 from .299 last season.

Scutaro struck out looking in a crucial at-bat on Monday night, but he’s also hitting .400 with a walk in three games since coming to the Giants. With Pablo Sandoval on the shelf, Scutaro is probably the best hitting infielder on the current roster. Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy is going to have a hard time keeping Scutaro out of the lineup when Sandoval returns.

When Sandoval comes back, the Giants could play Scutaro over the light-hitting Ryan Theriot at second base, over the similarly offensively-challenged Brandon Crawford at short, or they could leave Scutaro at third and replace struggling first baseman Brandon Belt with Sandoval. More likely, Scutaro will be a spot starter at all three infield positions, and a massive upgrade over Joaquin Arias and Manny Burriss, who was recently designated for assignment, on the bench.

While the acquisition of Scutaro did not garner the same excitement as Tuesday’s acquisition of Hunter Pence, the deal for Scutaro may turn out to be just as valuable given the low cost to pry him away from Colorado.

The Giants’ acquisition of Pence on Tuesday was more costly in terms of both cash and prospects, but it filled the huge need for thump in the middle of the lineup. The Giants entered Tuesday with the fewest home runs in baseball and the 25th worst slugging percentage.

Pence is having a down year, but his 17 home runs and .447 slugging percentage provide a huge boost to the middle of the Giants lineup. Like Scutaro, Pence is a solid bet to improve over the final two months of the season. His .784 OPS this season is down from his career .823 OPS, and way down from the .872 OPS he put up last season.

The Giants had to part with Nate Schierholtz, number two prospect Tommy Joseph and minor league pitcher Seth Rosin to get Pence. The cost was high, but with the Los Angeles Dodgers acquiring League, Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino before the deadline, the Giants were forced into action.

Sabean gets high marks for his deadline work, but that doesn’t automatically mean the Giants will hold off the Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks in the tight National League West race. All three teams are evenly matched on paper after the flurry of trade activity over the past week.

While I hated to see Joseph get dealt, Sabean did well to hold onto top prospect Gary Brown as well as all of the Giants’ top pitching prospects. In the end, he gets an ‘A’ for upgrading the roster without dealing Brown, Belt or any of the top arms in the system, and for getting a player in Pence who the Giants control for next season as well.

The only question left to answer is whether or not these moves are enough to hold off the surging Dodgers and Diamondbacks. If the Giants come up short, it won’t be for a lack of in-season activity by their tire-kicking general manager.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Could the San Francisco Giants Trade for a Closer?

When Brian Wilson got hurt in April, Bruce Bochy had a big decision to make.

Would he choose Sergio Romo, the star reliever whom righties can’t hit? Would he choose Javier Lopez, the left-handed submariner whom lefties can’t hit? Or would he choose Santiago Casilla, the hard-throwing righty who can be very erratic.

Surprisingly, Bochy chose Casilla. It seemed to be the right move, as Casilla converted 20 of his first 21 save opportunities.

Then, the wheels came off.

In just eight short appearances, Casilla blew five saves, as his ERA went from 1.32 to 3.34. In four of those eight outings, Casilla allowed two or more runs, and he cost the Giants a win in two of those games. Bochy even said recently that the Giants will rethink the closer situation (h/t Will Brinson of NBCBayArea.com).

However, San Francisco doesn’t have that many other options. Romo has balky knees and elbow problems, and he can’t close on a day-to-day basis. Javier Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt are usually used to face lefties in the seventh or eighth inning, although both could close if needed.

George Kontos and Brad Penny have done a nice job in San Francisco, and both should see some save opportunities coming soon. However, Penny has allowed some home runs and struggled recently, and Kontos is young and inexperienced.

So, what could the Giants do about it?

Trade for a closer.

Huston Street, Jonathan Broxton, Brett Myers and Francisco Rodriguez are all available, and, according to a report from SBNation, the Giants are interested in Broxton. The Royals closer is 22-for-26 on save opportunities, has a 2.34 ERA this year and hasn’t allowed a home run in his last 20.2 IP.

However, Broxton is inconsistent. He strikes out tons of batters, but he also gives up a lot of hits. Last year, Broxton had a 5.68 ERA, and the year before he had a 4.01 ERA.

Broxton could end up being just like Casilla in the second half, and that’s a chance the Giants don’t want to take.

According to Andy Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com, the Giants scouted the Cubs and Royals farm systems. The Giants don’t want to give away top-notch prospects, since they already parted with star pitching prospect Zach Wheeler last year.

However, if the price is right, they could go after Street.

Street is 15-for-15 on save opportunities with a 1.03 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 26.1 innings. Just like Broxton, he has the ability to miss bats. However, Street has also been lights-out this year, and if the Giants traded for him, they would have arguably the best closer and the best setup man in baseball.

They would have to part with some prospects, but one solution is trading a catcher. The Padres have a young catching prospect in Yasmani Grandal, and he is hitting .288 with five home runs (in the majors). However, they could use Giants catcher Tommy Joseph in a trade if the Giants were willing to trade him.

If the Padres won’t take Joseph, San Francisco could find some other prospects. They have a lot of outfielders, and they have Gary Brown. Even though San Francisco probably won’t trade him, he could be used as bait.

No matter whom the Giants trade, they will have to get a closer. Casilla can’t pitch in high-pressure situations, Romo can’t close every day, and no one else seems to be ready to take over at closer yet.

It’s very hard to win in the playoffs without a closer who can handle the pressure, and Street can handle it.

Street can close when the pressure is on, and he has pitched in the playoffs. Broxton has pitched in the playoffs, too, but he has a 4.40 career ERA in the postseason.

And, even though it seems that the Giants have a good bullpen, closing out games is different. No one on the team (except for Romo) has what it takes to close.

Broxton and Street do, and they could really help the Giants.

Or they could hurt the Giants on other teams.

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