In scouring the free-agent market for available relievers, a few names stand out.
Veteran righties Steve Cishek, Craig Stammen, Daniel Hudson, and Will Harris all had quality seasons in 2019. Hudson had the best season of his career, while the others were all consistent with what they’ve previously produced.
Anyone from that group could end up being a decent late-game option for new manager Gabe Kapler and the Giants, and could likely be had for one or two-year contracts at relatively modest rates.
Of them, my prohibitive favorite would be the 33-year-old Cishek. The sidearmer has done nothing but produce over the past four seasons, hurling 243 innings with a 2.52 ERA and 37 saves to boot. Additionally, in a market devoid of lefty relievers, Cishek has succeeded against both sides of the plate throughout his career.
The Giants carried three lefties in the bullpen at times last season, but with only Watson remaining as a surefire member, versatility may be the deciding factor when they do sign someone.
The still-friendly confines of Oracle Park will certainly be a selling point if the team pursues relievers looking to reestablish value on a one-year term.
In particular, Dellin Betances (31) and Pedro Strop (34) stick out as high-upside relievers who are entering the market after rough 2019 seasons.
Betances appeared in just one game for the New York Yankees while spending most of the year on injured list due to shoulder and Achilles injuries. Meanwhile, Strop was healthy but ineffective compared to the rest of his seven-year tenure with the Chicago Cubs. He had a 4.97 ERA, due in large part to inflated walk and home run numbers. However, he still had 10.6 K/9, the second-best mark in his career over a full season.
All in all, the team’s Opening Day bullpen will look vastly different from how it did a year ago. And it will probably look completely different again at the end of 2020.
The bullpen is where the most turnover on any team takes place, and with Zaidi’s tendency to always search for any possible marginal upgrades, that will be particularly true for the Giants.