Giants Bolster the Bullpen by Signing Tony Watson
Just when their offseason appeared to be over, and the team had spent nearly all of its money for the upcoming season, they pulled one more big move. They signed LHP Tony Watson to a two-year $7 million deal, with a player option for a third year. The deal was rumored to be in the works earlier in the week, when it was reported that Watson and the Giants were in serious contract talks, but it was unclear how he would be able to fit given the fact that the Giants were adamant about staying out of the Luxury Tax this year. They were able to pull it off by being extremely creative, making the first year of the contract for less money, and having the second and third years loaded with incentive-bonuses and other ways to raise his salary.
This move is a spectacular one for the Giants. He has been in the league for seven years, and spent most of that time with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He played alongside Mark Melancon and Andrew McCutchen. Melancon had been recruiting Watson to come to the Giants since September, when the Giants were playing the Dodgers, who traded for Watson at the deadline. He was excellent for both the Dodgers and the Pirates throughout his career. He has thrown 453.0 innings in seven years, going 33-17 with an ERA of 2.68. He has a career K/9 of 8.78. He has also been to the postseason three times, and has a career postseason ERA of 2.25 in 12 innings. He appeared in last year’s World Series five times, allowing no runs in 3.2 innings. All in all, he is a proven, reliable pitcher that will give Bruce Bochy another solid option from the left side.
The Giants have now addressed all the issues that they needed to in order to try and turn things around this season. They added two new pieces to their outfield, Andrew McCutchen and Austin Jackson, who will help to try and provide some consistent, quality play that the Giants’ outfield has been missing in recent years. They also added a third baseman in Evan Longoria, and he has been one of the most consistent all-around third basemen in the league for the last ten years. Now, they have put the final piece in the puzzle with Tony Watson.
Now, it would appear that if all the offseason moves work out and they play to their career averages, and the Giants’ core can bounce back from a down year, then they are in a position to make the playoffs. One of the most important things for them to be able to have success if they get their though, is the bullpen, which looks promising this year.
The Giants are in position to give Bruce Bochy one of the best bullpens he has ever managed, with loads of weapons and ways to get people out during the ends of games. They still have Mark Melancon, who is poised to bounce back after an injury plagued 2017 campaign that saw him post the worst numbers since 2012. Since his disastrous 2012 season, he only posted an ERA above 2.00 one time, and has been one of the best closers in the game. He was hurt nearly all of last year, and that led to ineffectiveness when he did play. If he is able to rebound and post numbers that fall in line with his career averages, he will be able to finish off a lot of games for the Giants. Now, the important thing is making sure the Giants have the lead when he does enter the game. This task will fall onto the late-inning relievers like Sam Dyson, Hunter Strickland, and Will Smith. Dyson was traded to the Giants last year after a disastrous beginning to the season with Texas. Once traded, he was much more effective for the Giants, especially in a late-inning role. He stepped up as the closer when Melancon went down, and saved 14 games in 17 tries. Having someone with experience being a closer in the back end of the bullpen is a great thing to have, especially as a setup man. Hunter Strickland will be looking to build on his strong 2017 season, and will look to continue to be effective. The Giants also have Will Smith, who missed the entire 2017 season due to Tommy-John Surgery. Smith has been a very effective pitcher in the back end of the bullpen for years, and was particularly effective after the Giants traded for him at the deadline in 2016. A full season from him would be great for the Giants.
The San Francisco Giants also have several other relievers looking to break out in a middle-relief role. Derek Law is looking to rebound after a disappointing 2017. He was incredible in 2016, posting an ERA of 2.13 in 55 innings, and if he can be anything close to how he was in 2016, then he will be a great asset for Bochy to use. Cory Gearrin was excellent last season, posting a 1.99 ERA in 68 innings. A player I am really excited to see a full season from is Reyes Moronta, who was good during his september call up last year. He boasts a big fastball that can occasionally touch triple digits. Overall, the bullpen will be exciting for the Giants, and it will be interesting to see how it matches up with the other bullpens in the NL West.
Now, the NL West is loaded with very good pitching staffs, and the Colorado Rockies set out this offseason to build a super-bullpen in order to try and get back to October. The Dodgers still have all the pieces that they need to contend for a World Series Championship, and the Diamondbacks will be looking to build off of an impressive 2017 season. I won’t go as far as to say that the Giants are favorites in the NL West, or favorites for a Wild Card spot, but they have definitely set themselves up to run with the best of the west. They don’t have a super-bullpen like the Rockies, but they have a very good bullpen in a very pitcher-friendly ballpark. They don’t boast the power of the Diamondbacks or Dodgers, but they do have the pieces to be able to score enough runs for their pitching staff. Most importantly for the Giants though, they drastically improved their defense, which was atrocious last year, which will make their pitchers look a lot better.
Overall, I really like the Tony Watson signing, and am impressed that they were able to do it and still stay under the Luxury Tax. I think that the Giants have had a very good offseason, and have the pieces to be able to contend this year. They improved their bullpen, offense, and defense. The only real question mark that remains is the back-half of the starting rotation. I assume that the rotation will be filled out by the end of spring training, and am very excited about the 2018 San Francisco Giants.