With Will Smith gone, the San Francisco Giants will be looking to bolster their bullpen for 2020. Here are five free agent options to help the team.
In the first half of the 2019 season, the San Francisco Giants had a very solid bullpen. Will Smith did not blow a single save, and other relievers like Tony Watson, Sam Dyson, and Reyes Moronta created a sturdy bridge to give Smith a lead in the ninth inning.
However, the Giants decided to trade Dyson, Mark Melancon, and Drew Pomeranz at the trade deadline. Those moves might pay off in the long run, but in the short-term, they weakened the bullpen for the second half.
Now, with Will Smith joining the Atlanta Braves in free agency, the bullpen has lost its finest arm. Plus, with Madison Bumgarner also leaving in free agency, you could argue that the team's bullpen will be under even more stress next year with how weak the rotation is.
However, the Giants discovered some arms in the second half like Sam Coonrod and Jandel Gustave who could prove to be solid pieces of the bullpen in 2020. Also, Shaun Anderson showed promise coming out of the bullpen and has even led some to speculate that he could be the closer.
But the Giants still have an opportunity to improve their bullpen through free-agent acquisitions if they so choose. A Sergio Romo reunion is out of the question, as he already signed with Minnesota, but there are still solid options out there.
Postseason star Daniel Hudson would not make much sense for the rebuilding Giants, but low-cost and low-risk options such as Juan Nicasio are much more in the realm of possibility to add a bit of depth to the bullpen.
There will most likely be an open battle for the closer spot next spring, and adding an ex-closer like Steve Cishek could add a little excitement to the competition.
So let's take a look at five free-agent options to add depth to the San Francisco Giants bullpen in 2020.
Giants free-agent target: Steve Cishek
Veteran Steve Cishek and his unorthodox delivery had a very solid 2019 for the Chicago Cubs. He had a 2.95 ERA in 70 games last year, picking up seven saves in the process.
His most prominent days as a closer came in the early 2010s with the Marlins. In 2013 and 2014, he racked up 34 and 39 saves, respectively. While that seems like a while ago, it is possible that he could slide back into the closer's role with relative ease.
He would likely command a contract in the $6.5 million range, which is reasonable if the Giants think he could save them some ninth-inning headaches by being a reliable closer.
Plus, if the Giants are clear about making him the closer, that could sway him from accepting an offer from a possible contender that views him as a setup man.
In all, Cishek would be a solid option that would add a veteran presence to a young bullpen and give the team a solid closer candidate.
Giants free-agent target: Juan Nicasio
Juan Nicasio was serviceable last year for the Phillies. He had a 4.75 ERA in 47 innings pitched. He would fill in nicely as a middle or late-inning reliever, especially if the team is concerned about Moronta being ready for the season coming off of a torn labrum.
The 33-year-old veteran has been pitching in the big leagues since 2011, so he would provide experience to a bullpen full of youngsters.
He is projected to have a 4.58 ERA in 2020, which is tolerable for a team like the Giants that would really just need him to eat up innings more than anything else.
If he could take some of the pressure off other bullpen arms and do it at a reasonable price, he may not be a bad option for the Giants.
Giants free-agent target: Cory Gearrin
Giants fans no doubt remember Cory Gearrin from the three and a half seasons he spent with the team from 2015 to 2018. Is a reunion in order?
It would make sense on some level. The Giants need a middle relief guy with experience, and he would fill a similar role to Nicasio as an inning eater, in much the same role that George Kontos filled when he was still on the team.
Last season, pitching for the Yankees and Mariners, Gearrin had a 4.07 ERA in 55 innings. Those are solid numbers, and he could try to rekindle the success he had with the Giants in 2017 when he posted a 1.99 ERA in 68 games, making him one of the few bright spots from that season.
If he wants to come back, the Giants would be wise to welcome him on a cheap deal.
Giants free-agent target: Greg Holland
Once a dominant closer, Greg Holland would not come at a very steep price if the Giants want to take a chance on him.
He was a respectable in the closer's role for the Diamondbacks last season, saving 17 games in 22 tries, though he was eventually removed from the ninth inning in favor of Archie Bradley.
The 34-year-old could fill the role of closer if the Giants simply want someone who has experience with the job and has done it recently.
He is a far cry from the pitcher he was during his peak with the Kansas City Royals, but he could still be a respectable big league reliever and a worthwhile roll of the dice if the price is right.
Giants free-agent target: David Hernandez
David Hernandez is coming off a pitiful year for the Reds. He had an 8.02 ERA in 47 games. That doesn't inspire much confidence, but perhaps it means he is due for a rebound year.
To that point, his 2018 season was a totally different story, as he had a 2.53 ERA in 57 appearances while playing half of his games in a hitter-friendly ballpark.
Moving to a more pitcher-friendly park like Oracle might be all he needs to get back on track in 2020. If he can get closer to his 2020 projected ERA of 4.75, then he will be worth a cheap contract and a middle relief role.
So there you have it, five free-agent relievers the Giants could still pursue to help them out in 2020.