Just four years ago, Jorge Guzman was the second-best prospect in the Miami Marlins system, and the #87 prospect in all of Major League Baseball, according to Baseball America. Now 26, he's reportedly a minor-league free agent signee of the SF Giants.
In an Instagram post January 15, PNY Sports - the agency that represents Guzman - said their client had signed a two-year minor-league contract with the Giants.
Even with plenty of minor league deals being announced during the current MLB lockout (in which 40-man roster moves cannot be made and teams aren't allowed to even have contact with players), this one is unique: Guzman pitched in the Majors for Miami in 2021 and therefore was on their 40-man roster for a time, but after he finished the season on the 60-day injured list Guzman was placed on waivers. After going un-claimed he chose free agency rather than remain with Miami.
SF Giants hoping Guzman can contribute in 2023?
Guzman's injured list trip was caused by a sore right elbow suffered in August. The injury supposedly required surgery of some sort, according to Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors, and he's still rehabbing. That could be the reason for the rare two-year deal he signed - they might expect him to be ready early in 2022, if at all (especially if he had Tommy John surgery), but the Giants must be enamored with his ability and are willing to help him return to health in exchange for the chance to see him on the mound through 2023.
Originally a Houston Astros farmhand, Guzman was traded to the New York Yankees in late-2016 as part of a trade that saw Brian McCann go to Houston. He was ranked the #26 prospect in the Yankees system entering 2017, and an outstanding turn at short-season Staten Island (2.30 ERA in 13 starts, 88 strikeouts in 66 2/3 innings) bolstered his prospect pedigree: just over a year after the McCann trade, he was a key piece sent to Miami in the Giancarlo Stanton swap.
Guzman's first ranking in the Marlins system was as the #2 prospect, entering 2018. Some control issues (64 walks in 96 innings in 2018, 71 free passes in 138 2/3 frames in 2019) have seen him drop in evaluators' eyes (#7 in Miami's system entering 2019, #14 in 2020 and #22 before the 2021 season), but he made his MLB debut with a single appearance in the Covid-shortened 2020 season and pitched twice for Miami in 2021.
When healthy, Guzman can be electric: his fastball sits in the mid-90s and can touch 100, and he has an improving slider with an average changeup. Guzman seems to be an ideal project for the Giants' pitching coaches, as he projects to be a dominant late-inning reliever if he can harness his control. Adding a weapon like that to the already-solid bullpen at 24 Willie Mays Plaza can drastically shorten games and reduce the stress on a potentially-thin starting staff.