Best San Francisco Giants of the 2010s: 36. Tony Watson
By Joel Reuter
Tony Watson has been a reliable late-inning arm for the San Francisco Giants since joining their bullpen.
The San Francisco Giants signed Tony Watson to an incentive-laden three-year, $9 million contract prior to the 2018 season.
A ninth-round pick in 2007 by the Pittsburgh Pirates, Watson spent the first seven seasons of his career in Pittsburgh where he posted a 2.68 ERA with 152 holds and 30 saves in 450 appearances.
He was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the 2017 trade deadline where he gave his free-agent stock a shot in the arm with a 2.70 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 24 appearances following the trade. He followed that up with a 2.57 ERA in 11 appearances during the postseason.
The 34-year-old has not seen any time in the closer’s role during his time in San Francisco, but he has regularly been asked to bridge the gap to the ninth inning.
- 2018: 72 G, 32 HLD, 2.59 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 1.9 BB/9, 9.8 K/9
- 2019: 56 G, 24 HLD, 4.29 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 2.1 BB/9, 7.0 K/9
The left-hander has a $2.5 million player option for next season with a $500,000 buyout, and despite his relatively high ERA this year, he’s still likely to command more than that on the open market this winter as a proven lefty with late-inning experience.
With 14 more appearances in 2019, he will have appeared in at least 70 games in each of the past six seasons, so he also has durability on his side.
Could the San Francisco Giants consider re-signing him, even if he declines his player option?
It’s a thin free-agent market for lefty relievers this winter beyond Will Smith and opt-out candidate Aroldis Chapman. The best alternatives to Watson will include Tony Cingrani, Zach Duke, Tony Sipp and Jake Diekman if he declines his end of a mutual option.
Meanwhile, the Giants will only have rookies Sam Selman and Williams Jerez as lefty relief options on the 40-man roster heading into next season.
In other words, don’t rule out the idea of Watson being around beyond the 2019 campaign.
Check back here regularly as we count down the 50 best San Francisco Giants of the 2010s.