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Previewing San Francisco Giants Rotation Options for 2019

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 29: Dereck Rodriguez #57 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first inning at AT&T Park on August 29, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 29: Dereck Rodriguez #57 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first inning at AT&T Park on August 29, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The San Francisco Giants 2018 rotation was supposed to be decent. A projected rotation would’ve been Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Chris Stratton, and either Ty Blach or Derek Holland.

Then Bumgarner and Samardzija got hurt before the season and Cueto got injured about a month later. Bumgarner looked effective enough after his return, while Samardzija struggled through only 10 starts for the San Francisco Giants.

Meanwhile, Cueto had to go under the knife and will miss all of 2019 while he recovers from Tommy John.

Injuries aren’t fun.

However, these injuries forced the rotation to include rookies Dereck Rodriguez and Andrew Suarez as well, who now look like key future contributors.

The 2019 version of the team looks like it’ll feature a Bumgarner-Rodriguez combo at the top of the rotation, with Samardzija likely working his way in somewhere after due to the roughly $40 million he’s due over the next two years.

That would seemingly leave two open spots.

Internally, Suarez, Stratton, and Blach are options (likely in that order of preference for me). Pending free agent Derek Holland will also likely get a look to return if the price is right.

However, if the Giants are truly set on competing, they need to wade back into the free agent waters for another true difference maker. Bumgarner and D-Rod are just that, but the rest of the rotation options aren’t quite yet.

At this point, Stratton and Blach are what they are, which are bottom of the rotation, low-upside arms that can eat innings. It’s fine to have one in your rotation, but three (I count Samardzija in this category too despite his albatross contract) is too many for a team with playoff aspirations.

I would not mind it if the Giants traded either of those two controllable arms for bullpen or position player depth. They wouldn’t net anyone significant now, but maybe the Giants can take on a player with higher upside who doesn’t have a role on their current team (Alen Hanson fits this mold).

Suarez, meanwhile, just completed his rookie year and did well all things considered. He seems to have a high enough floor because he limits walks, but still has room to improve in terms of keeping balls in the yard and striking out batters.

I think he earns the fourth spot in the rotation.

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That leaves one more potential spot to fill. Let’s take a brief look into potential free agent options.

I don’t know if the Giants should be interested in putting another several year-high contract salary on the books with Shark, Cueto, and Bumgarner’s (assuming they try to extend him). Instead, I think pursuing a high-floor veteran option who would be paid more for fewer years would be ideal.

This would seemingly eliminate the Patrick Corbin and Dallas Keuchels of the free agency pool from being options. However, there are still several mid-tier options that could fit the bill.

Charlie Morton, Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ, and even Derek Holland fit this bill. I would be happy to see any of those arms come to the Bay on a reasonable shorter-term contract to fill out the rotation.

Morton and Hamels may require a bit more AAV based on pedigree and consistent recent success, while Happ would likely earn less, and Holland would command even less due to his injury history and lack of recent track record.

This would leave the projected rotation to be something like this:

  1. Madison Bumgarner
  2. Dereck Rodriguez
  3. J.A. Happ (or one of the previous options)
  4. Andrew Suarez
  5. Jeff Samardzija

Depth options: Ty Blach, Chris Stratton, Tyler Beede, Shaun Anderson

What do you think, Giants fans?

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