SF Giants: Starting Pitching Remains a Top Priority
By Jeff Young
Despite making three notable additions to the starting rotation, the SF Giants continue to be connected to some of the top arms on the market.
With that being said, rumors of any connection between player and team have come from someone outside of the SF Giants front office. However, team president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi confirmed on Friday that they are still searching for starting pitching help.
SF Giants remain in the market for starting pitching
This is not totally surprising news. The current rotation consists of Johnny Cueto, Logan Webb, Kevin Gausman, Alex Wood, and Anthony DeSclafani. Outside of these five options, Tyler Beede, Connor Menez, and Anthony Banda could all compete for starts in 2021.
With Wood and DesClafani, there is some injury risk, whereas Beede and Webb will need to have their workload managed in 2021. Menez and Banda bring intrigue but are unproven up until this point.
This is all to say that the Giants really need to add more starting rotation depth. They may be in the market for one more arm, but they could really use at least two. Given that Spring Training is right around the corner and pitchers typically need the full duration of camp to build up arm strength, the hope is that there is a move coming soon.
San Francisco is especially light on left-handed starters, so I would guess that they are targeting the southpaw market. With that being said, it is pretty evident that they need starting pitching depth regardless of what arm they throw with.
While Jake Odorizzi and James Paxton sit atop the pitching market, the Giants have already done much of the heavy lifting for the rotation. However, there are several veteran arms who could soak up some innings and be reeled in on low-value deals:
- Rick Porcello – 5.64 ERA, 3.33 FIP, 1.50 WHIP, 8.2 K/9, and a 3.60 SO/W ratio in 59 innings in 2020.
- Anibal Sanchez – 6.62 ERA, 5.46 FIP, 1.66 WHIP, 7.3 K/9, and a 2.39 SO/W ratio in 53 innings in 2020.
- Mike Leake (DNP in 2020) – 4.29 ERA, 5.19 FIP, 1.28 WHIP, 5.8 K/9, and a 4.70 SO/W ratio in 197 innings in 2019.
- Cole Hamels (Only one start in 2020) – 3.81 ERA, 4.09 FIP, 1.39 WHIP, 9.1 K/9, and a 2.55 SO/W ratio in 141.2 innings in 2019
- Brett Anderson – 4.21 ERA, 4.38 FIP, 1.27 WHIP, 6.1 K/9, and a 3.20 SO/W ratio in 47 innings in 2020
- Gio Gonzalez – 4.83 ERA, 5.50 FIP, 1.86 WHIP, 9.7 K/9, and a 1.79 SO/W ratio in 31.2 innings in 2020
- Tyler Anderson – 4.37 ERA, 4.36 FIP, 1.39 WHIP, 6.2 K/9, and a 1.64 SO/W ratio in 59.2 innings in 2020
The pitching market is beginning to thin out pretty quickly. Of the options mentioned above, none have much experience pitching out of the bullpen. This is an important caveat because they would likely want someone to work out of the rotation and the bullpen.
In the case of Hamels and Sanchez, the Giants have been lightly connected to them throughout the offseason. Of course, the front office has prior ties with Gonzalez and Brett Anderson, whereas Tyler Anderson pitched for San Francisco for 2020.
Since these are depth signings, they would not necessarily be expected to make 32 starts. Rather, they could eat up innings while keeping the team in the game.
This is all to say that Zaidi confirmed what we already knew in that the Giants should continue to survey the pitching market. The 2021 season presents a unique challenge given that last year was a shortened season, so arm strength and stamina are going to be tested. Depth will be especially important as rotations will need to be 7-8 arms deep.