The SF Giants announced the signings of Dominic Leone and 10 other players to minor-league deals on Thursday. They also re-signed catcher Chadwick Tromp to an MLB deal.
The SF Giants announced 12 signings on Thursday, most of which had already been reported but were made official. Most noteworthy from the slew of moves, the team re-signed catcher Chadwick Tromp to a major-league contract less than a week after non-tendering him. All 11 other players signed minor-league pacts; seven-year MLB veteran right-handed pitcher Dominic Leone is the most experienced player in the group.
Melvin Adon and Rico Garcia, the two other pre-arbitration players, non-tendered by the Giants with Tromp last week, were both re-signed on minor-league pacts. As with all the minor-league signings, they are both eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. While all could have a case to be selected, since all were free-agents, it’s hard to envision them passing on a big-league contract offer if one was out there.
Adon has flashed a true 80-grade fastball, routinely sitting from 99-100 mph and touching 102 mph, but lacks command and left a Dominican Winter League appearance earlier this year with an apparent arm injury.
Garcia was acquired off waivers last offseason from the Colorado Rockies and had spent his entire career as a starting pitcher. However, when he arrived at Spring Training, the Giants deployed him in the bullpen, and his previously low-90s fastball began consistently reaching 96 mph. Manager Gabe Kapler and his coaching staff were so enthused with his performance that Garcia was deployed as a top setup option early in the season. That didn’t go well. He finished 2020 with 12 appearances, 10 innings, 7 strikeouts, a 5.40 ERA, and 4.29 FIP.
The Giants acquired left-handed pitcher Anthony Banda from the Tampa Bay Rays at the deadline. It was reported earlier this offseason that he had been outrighted by the team and brought back on a minor-league deal. A one-time prospect who has struggled in his cup of coffee at the big-league level and had Tommy John surgery in 2018, Banda relies on a fastball and above-average changeup.
The team also announced the previously reported signings of outfielder Jason Krizan and pitcher Silvino Bracho. Krizan posted a solid .275/.358/.469 triple-slash with 46 extra-base hits and more walks (50) than strikeouts (45) between Double-A and Triple-A in 2019 and has played all around the infield and outfield, but lacks the range for shortstop or center field. Bracho has been mediocre in 89.2 career MLB innings but has elite career minor-league numbers.
Right-handed relievers Sam Wolff and Raffi Vizcaino also re-upped with the Giants. Vizcaino’s deal had been previously reported. Both have high-leverage stuff but have struggled with control against upper minor-league competition. Wolff has also dealt with a long list of injuries that have delayed his development.
A previously reported deal with southpaw Sam Long was also announced. Across three minor-league seasons, the 25-year-old has registered a 2.95 ERA, 1,169 WHIP, and a 27.2 percent strikeout rate against an 8.5 percent walk rate. In total, Long has appeared in 61 games as a professional with 43 of those games as a reliever. It would seem likely that the team will deploy him out of the pen as well.
Yunior Marte signed a minor-league deal with the Giants. His fastball sits in the mid-90s and he has used both a changeup and curveball in the past. However, the changeup is a far more developed pitch, flashing plus at times. He’s always racked up strikeouts but struggled to locate in the zone. He dominated at Double-A in 2019, but was lit up for a 6.15 ERA in his first taste of Triple-A.
Most interesting of all the minor-league pacts, the Giants added right-handed reliever Dominic Leone. Leone has pitched for an MLB team in every season since 2014 and has a career 4.09 ERA (4.06 FIP) across 249 appearances (253 innings). He made 12 appearances for Cleveland in 2020 but posted an 8.38 ERA.
Leone throws three variations of a fastball (4-seam, cutter, and sinker) the majority of the time. His 4-seamer and sinker average about 95 mph, while his cutter sits around 90 mph. His slider though, is easily his best pitch, generating elite vertical break. Over the past four seasons, hitters whiffed on at least 40% of swings against the pitch each year and batted just .169 with an abysmal .247 slugging percentage against it.
As dominant as his slider has been, he threw it just 9.5% of the time in 2017, 4.6% of the time in 2018, 14.5% of the time in 2018, and 35.6% of the time in 2020. The Giants have shown a willingness to encourage pitchers to use their secondaries more. That could be a model for Leone.
Still, his increased reliance on his slider in 2020 did not translate to better run prevention, but he struck out a career-high 34% of the batters he faced and suffered quite a bit of bad luck. Leone dealt with a .478 batting average on balls in play (BABIP), 37.5% home run-to-flyball rate (HR/FB%), and 67.6% strand rate. All three stats tend to regress towards league averages, and in the case of BABIP and HR/FB%, Leone’s numbers were exorbitantly high. His xFIP, which estimates ERA by controlling for BABIP and HR/FB% estimated his ERA at 3.03, better than any Giants reliever’s xFIP in 2020.
The SF Giants finalized deals to keep a number of familiar names in the organization and added several players with intriguing skillsets and Triple-A or MLB experience. Right-handed reliever Dominic Leone highlights the group.