Since the lockout has ended, the SF Giants have been one of the more busy teams in baseball. That continued on Monday morning as Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area confirmed that San Francisco has signed right-handed hurler Jakob Junis to a one-year, $1.75 million deal.
Why right-handed hurler Jakob Junis is a fit for the SF Giants
On the surface, this move does not make sense for a team that won 107 games last season. After all, the 29-year-old pitcher is receiving a 40-man roster spot just one season after posting a 5.26 ERA in 16 appearances with the Kansas City Royals.
However, the Giants have constructed a starting rotation that is extremely high in injury risk. Anthony DeSclafani, Alex Wood, Alex Cobb, and Carlos Rodón have all spent substantial time on the injured list in recent seasons.
Yet, the front office is asking these four pitchers to make the majority of the starts next season. The Giants added another pitcher with durability concerns in Carlos Martínez on a minor league pact. Outside of the four mentioned above along with Martínez and Logan Webb, the Giants do not have many experienced starters.
Given that the Giants rotation consists entirely of pitchers on multi-year deals or under team control, there are not a lot of opportunities for others to crack the rotation. This makes it hard for them to recruit veteran pitchers even on minor league deals.
This is where Junis fits. He is coming off of a couple of down seasons, but has handled a full workload of 31 starts as recently as 2019. Plus, he has experience working as a bulk innings reliever.
The righty was originally drafted by the Royals in the 29th round in 2011 and debuted with the club in 2017. Since then, Junis has registered a 4.82 ERA, 4.74 FIP, 1.35 WHIP, 8.2 K/9, and a solid 3.25 SO/W ratio.
He is a flyball pitcher who struggles to keep the ball in the park as he has yielded 1.6 HR/9 in five seasons with the Royals. Kauffman Stadium leans in favor of the hitter, so a move to a more pitcher-friendly Oracle Park should help in that regard.
The Giants like pitchers who can pitch effectively in the strike zone and Junis has demonstrated that ability (3.25 SO/W rate) throughout his career. Though, this likely comes at the cost of leaving one too many pitchers in the zone.
Perhaps, the most appealing part of Junis' profile is that he has one minor league option remaining. This is an important detail as he carries the type of roster flexibility that many veteran pitchers do not have.
Given the composition of the rotation, the Giants will need to rely on the starting pitching depth on the 40-man roster. Junis adds extra depth with some roster flexibility, so he checks a couple of boxes off that the Giants need at this stage in the offseason.