The SF Giants have certainly benefitted from an aggressive roster churn over the years. However, there is a downside to this process as they may prematurely pass on quality players, which appears to be the case with Philadelphia Phillies reliever Andrew Vasquez.
Did the SF Giants miss out on yet another reliever?
In the middle of last season, the Giants claimed just about every pitcher on the waiver wire. This paid dividends in the case of Alex Young, who recorded a 2.39 ERA in 24 appearances down the stretch last season.
The Giants held team control over Young this past winter, but decided to part ways with him at the non-tender deadline. They also passed on re-signing Shelby Miller and traded Gregory Santos to the Chicago White Sox after he was designated for assignment.
The outlook of the bullpen might look different if the Giants had kept all three arms. Young (2.70 ERA), Santos (2.35 ERA), and Miller (2.91 ERA) are all off to a good start this season.
The Giants got a long look at Young, but did not see much of either Miller or Santos for various reasons last year. Oftentimes, the Giants' strategy with the aggressive roster churn is to store players in Triple-A in case an emergency arises.
They did that with Vasquez late in the year. He was claimed off of waivers from the Phillies and then optioned to Triple-A. Shortly thereafter, he was designated for assignment and accepted an assignment to Triple-A after clearing waivers.
On the final day of the season, his contract was selected by San Francisco to give them extra coverage. His recorded two scoreless innings before the season came to a close. Sure enough, the left-handed reliever landed on waivers again only to be claimed by none other than the Philadelphia Phillies.
In the early going, this has proven to be a smart move by the Phillies as he has registered a 1.33 ERA, 3.93 FIP, 1.08 WHIP, 8.0 K/9, and a 2.25 SO/W ratio across 20.1 frames. He is excelling due in part to a change in pitch mix that emphasizes his slider as he has flashed that pitch 77.1 percent of the time in 2023.
That is how some pitchers find success in today's game. Find one true out-pitch and heavily rely on that to generate outs. Could the Giants have expected this type of performance from Vasquez? He had a 7.04 ERA in 15.1 sporadic innings across four seasons before 2023, so it is difficult to put stock into those numbers.
That said, he did post a 13.4 K/9, 3.14 SO/W ratio and had ground ball rates above 45 percent at nearly every level in seven minor league seasons. The Giants could not have expected him to become a leverage reliever like he has, but he did exhibit certain traits like healthy strikeout and ground ball rates that can lead to success in the majors.
The Giants' bullpen has posted a 5.22 ERA this year, which ranks as the 3rd-worst mark in baseball. They have been better in the month of May (3.72 ERA), but it feels like they might want a do-over when it comes to putting together this unit. In the end, the bullpen might end up being decent, but there is no denying that they passed on quality depth.