Minor-League Free Agent Relievers That Could Help The SF Giants In 2021: Brendan McCurry, Pedro Strop, Preston Guilmet, Ryan Buchter
Pedro Strop is easily the most experienced big-leaguer included on this list. While he’s probably not the strong setup man he was as recently as 2018, he’s still been a competent reliever for nearly a decade. Set to turn 36 next June, he might not be a bad buy-low bounceback candidate to see if he has one more strong stretch of play in him.
Like Strop, Ryan Buchter is quite experienced against MLB hitters and actually had a respectable 2020 season. In 10 appearances with the Angels, he had a 4.50 ERA. A southpaw best deployed as a LOOGY, the three-batter minimum rule does complicate his market. The Giants are also already pretty deep with lefties so it’s not the easiest roster fit. Still, he’s averaged 53 games and 44 innings a season since 2016 and has an ERA of 2.92.
Preston Guilmet is a journeyman righty who’s had MLB stints with six different teams, spent a couple of years in Japan, and thrown 338 innings at Triple-A. He’s been effective at the upper minors for a number of years now, striking out over 10 batters per nine innings, while holding his walks to good numbers as well. He has some big-league experience but has yet to get a legitimate extended look.
Brandon McCurry is the youngest of the group (he’ll be 29 next July) and is the only one yet to make a big-league debut. He has a lot of similarities to Tyler Rogers. He’s spent four years in the incredibly hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League and been effective every year. Admittedly, he’s never dominated the competition, but like Rogers, works off control and a deceptive delivery to be effective even without overpowering stuff.
Top Target/Best Fit: Jay Jackson
After a couple of strong seasons with the Hiroshima Carp in Japan (127 G, 130.1 IP, 144 K, 42 BB, 1.86 ERA), Jay Jackson signed a minor-league deal with the Milwaukee Brewers prior to the 2019 season. He absolutely dominated the Pacific Coast League (40.2 IP, 54 K, 10 BB, 1.33 ERA) before earning a big-league promotion.
With the Brewers, Jackson wasn’t dominant (4.45 ERA and 4.66 FIP) and suffered from some inflated walks (5.3 BB/9), but struck out 47 batters in 30.1 innings and showed top of the line stuff. It still remains one of the most confusing facets of last offseason that he did not receive more robust interest. Instead, he returned to Japan, pitched for Chiba Lotte before joining the Reds on a minor-league pact. If he has a big-league out in his contract, he’s worthy of an opportunity to be a power right-handed arm that the Giants pen needs.