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SF Giants: Caleb Barager optioned in surprising move

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - MAY 26: Caleb Baragar #45 of the San Francisco Giants delivers a pitch against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on May 26, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - MAY 26: Caleb Baragar #45 of the San Francisco Giants delivers a pitch against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on May 26, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
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SF Giants
PHOENIX, ARIZONA – MAY 26: Caleb Baragar #45 of the SF Giants delivers a pitch against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on May 26, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

The SF Giants made a surprising roster move on Sunday by optioning reliever Caleb Baragar to Triple-A. The left-handed hurler has been one of the better relievers for the Giants and this was likely the product of him having optionability.

San Francisco did not need to make a roster move on Saturday after activating Mike Yastrzemski from the injured list because he was serving as the 27th player for the doubleheader. However, after the second game, the Giants needed to make room for the left-handed bat, which led to Barager being optioned.

SF Giants: Caleb Barager optioned in surprising move

Since debuting with the Giants in 2020, Barager has been one of the better relievers in the bullpen despite odd and inconsistent usage at times. In two seasons, the 27-year-old has registered a 2.43 ERA, 3.91 FIP, 1.16 WHIP, 7.3 K/9, and a 2.06 SO/W ratio across 40.2 frames.

He has been even better in 2021 as he has posted a 0.49 ERA with one save, which was recorded in last night’s 2-1 win against the Washington Nationals. Even though the underlying numbers may not necessarily support his current run-prevention rate, the lefty has been tough to hit as he has yielded only 14 hits across 18.1 innings.

Unlike many arms coming out of today’s bullpen, Baragar does not flash premium velocity as his fastball sits comfortably in the low-90’s that he pairs with a slider and an occasional curveball. The fastball and slider are both high-spin pitches that have late movement and are tough to barrel up.

The decision to option the left-handed reliever is a surprising move given how well he has performed. However, the Giants’ bullpen does not have a lot of roster flexibility with veterans like Jake McGee, Dominic LeoneJosé Álvarez, and Jarlin García. Perhaps, the unexpected emergence of Sam Long and the recent dominance of Conner Menez, both of whom have options, made the decision to send Baragar to Triple-A easier.

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It is not a move that reflects on Baragar’s performance in any way. Rather, he is one of the few arms in the bullpen who can be optioned, so the Giants decided to use that. Baragar will not be down for long as the Giants are likely waiting for a roster spot to open up. For the time being, he will pitch in Sacramento, which is a team he has only made four appearances for as he has nearly bypassed Triple-A on the way to making the Giants roster in 2020.

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