With All-Star Will Smith set to cash in on the free-agent market, the San Francisco Giants will be in the market for a new closer this offseason. Could Steve Cishek be the answer?
The San Francisco Giants had one of the best bullpens in baseball for much of the 2019 season, before a combination of deadline trades and injuries left them with a patchwork relief corps down the stretch.
Closer Will Smith finished the season with 34 saves in 38 chances, to go along with a 2.76 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and a career-high 13.2 K/9 in 63 appearances.
That performance makes him arguably the best relief pitcher available on this year’s free-agent market, and he’s likely headed for greener pastures elsewhere as a result.
So where does that leave the Giants’ ninth-inning situation?
That’s one of the questions that Farhan Zaidi and the rest of the front office will need to answer this winter, and there are a number of potential options both inside and outside of the organization.
One player worth considering is Steve Cishek.
The 33-year-old just wrapped up a two-year, $13 million deal with the Chicago Cubs, serving primarily in a setup capacity during his time with the team. In 150 appearances with the North Siders, he posted a 2.55 ERA and 1.12 WHIP with 11 saves and 36 holds.
While that two-year stretch is impressive on its own, he also has considerable late-inning experience from his time with the Miami Marlins.
Cishek spent the first six seasons of his career with the Marlins, and he was one of the better closers in baseball during the 2013 (34 SV, 2.33 ERA) and 2014 (39 SV, 3.19 ERA) seasons. He also had a 25-save season with the Seattle Mariners in 2016.
All told, the lanky right-hander with the deceptive sidewinder deliver has 132 career saves, good for 17th among active relievers.
If he’s willing to accept something similar to the $6.5 million AAV he banked during his last contract, he could be a great addition to the back of what will likely be a young San Francisco Giants bullpen.
The opportunity to close games once again could be enough to lure him away from potential contenders who will target him for a setup role.