The SF Giants continued to bolster bullpen depth on Saturday by adding a former Toronto Blue Jays hurler.
SF Giants added to the bullpen competition
In December of 2019, the Blue Jays signed the right-handed reliever to a two-year, $6.35 million contract. However, in a condensed season, Yamaguchi registered a rough 8.06 ERA, 6,42 FIP, 1.75 WHIP, and a 1.53 SO/W ratio in a brief sample of 25.2 innings. While the surface-level numbers do not look great, the righty did manage to strikeout over a batter an inning (9.1 K/9).
Evidently, the Blue Jays had seen enough and placed the 33-year-old on waivers earlier in the month. However, if a team put in a claim, then they would have been on the hook for the remaining $3.175 million salary owed to Yamaguchi for 2021.
Of course, no team claimed the veteran reliever and he became a free agent shortly thereafter. However, his foray into free agency was not a long endeavor as the Giants scooped him on Saturday.
Prior to joining the Blue Jays, Yamaguchi had a long and distinguished career in the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization (NPB). He came up with the Yokohama Bay Stars but had spent his last three seasons with the Yomiuri Giants before signing with Toronto. Interestingly, he had been teammates with Tomoyuki Sugano, who had been a Giants target this offseason.
In 14 seasons with the NPB, Yamaguchi made 427 appearances, including 50 starts, where he posted a strong 64-58 record, 3.35 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, and a solid 2.54 SO/W ratio.
Yamaguchi features a fastball that sits in the low-90’s and pairs it with a slider and split-finger to go along with an occasional curveball.
He will join a Giants organization that is expected to have surprising bullpen depth in the upper minor-league ranks. San Francisco has signed a bevy of experienced relievers to minor-league deals including Jay Jackson, Dominic Leone, Silvino Bracho, James Sherfy, Zack Littell, and Nick Tropeano.
Many of these names likely have opt-out clauses, so it is possible, if not likely, that at least a couple of names will not be with the organization when Opening Day comes around. Yamaguchi is another experienced reliever who gives the Giants yet another option as spring training gets underway.