Kansas City Royals: Making the case, San Francisco Giants free agents
Continuing our series of free agents that the Kansas City Royals should potentially pursue for 2020, the San Francisco Giants are up next.
The San Francisco Giants have been, essentially, the same team for the last 3 seasons. In 2019 they once again finished under .500 and well out of the playoffs. While they are not a terrible team, like our Kansas City Royals are at the moment, they are a thoroughly mediocre team.
None of the Giants everyday players finished with an OPS under .600 but only one player with more than 300 plate appearances finished as an above average hitter. They did find a bright spot with 28-year-old rookie outfielder Mike Yastrzemski having a breakout season. Brandon Belt can still get on base. Evan Longoria hit 20 homers this season. But the deterioration of Buster Posey continues unabated and it is still hard to watch.
The pitching rotation for the Giants was, once again, top-heavy in 2019. Both Jeff Samardzija and Madison Bumgarner continue to pitch a lot and pitch well. The bottom of their starting rotation was just bad. Mostly young and bad. Not as bad as the Kansas City Royals rotation, but still bad. The Giants bullpen is a bright spot. Led by closer Will Smith, they got a lot of good innings out of their relievers. Sadly, for the Giants, the bullpen can only do so much after Drew Pomeranz gives up a couple of homers in the first four innings.
There are a handful of free agents the Giants may be giving up this offseason. If they do become available, there are a couple of players we should do our best to bring on board. And a few of those prospective free agents we should not even bother with.
Stephen Vogt, C
Stephen Vogt, once again, hit the ball well as a backup catcher. His OPS+ of 111 would be better than any of the hitters in the bottom half of the Royals lineup this season. He only made 280 plate appearances, but he still hit 36 extra-base hits, including 10 home runs. The issue with Vogt as a backup catcher is that he cannot play his position. He is a bad catcher. He has the worst arm of any catcher in baseball and he is the slowest in getting the ball to second base on a steal attempt. This is going to be a pass for me.
Tony Watson, P
Tony Watson was an excellent bullpen arm in Pittsburgh during his prime. For two seasons, he maintained an ERA under 2. Watson is no longer in his prime. The lefty now strikes out fewer guys and gives up a few more home runs than he once did. But this is still an average reliever, which would make him one of the better bullpen arms in Kansas City. Tony Watson does have a player option that could possibly keep him in San Francisco. This is not one of the veteran relievers I would personally choose to add, but it would still be an upgrade for us.
Fernando Abad, P
Fernando Abad and Tony Watson are similar pieces. Both are veteran lefties. Both are in their mid-30s. Both now strike out fewer batters than they once did in their primes. Both are now league average pitchers. Abad, however, also missed 2018 after serving a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs. He only pitched 13 innings in 2019. I would let some other teams take a flyer on this one.
Pablo Sandoval, 3B
In 2019 Pablo Sandoval had his best season in over 5 years. He had an OPS over .800 for the first time since 2011. He no longer gets on base like he once did. In 2019 his On Base Percentage was barely over .300. But, with more than half of his hits being extra-base hits, his Slugging Percentage still finished over .500. That could reasonably be seen as a little fluky. Sandoval has been bad for several years now. He does still have some pop in a smaller role. But he has not seen 300 plate appearances since 2015. He is not a player we need to add.
Madison Bumgarner, P
2019 was a bit of a bounceback season for Bumgarner. After only pitching 17 games in 2017 and 21 games in 2018 he came back to throw over 207 innings in 2019. His strikeouts were also back up to almost 9 per 9 innings. His walks were back under 2 per 9 innings. He throws more curveballs now, but he seems to have figured out how to make that work for him. This is the level of starting pitcher we need to upgrade our pathetic starting rotation in Kansas City. Yes, please.
Will Smith, P
Will Smith started 16 games for the Royals when he was 22 years old. He then transitioned to the bullpen before being traded to Milwaukee for Nori Aoki. Since then, he has built himself into a dominant closer. He finished with 34 saves this season. He struck out more than 13 per 9 innings. His WHIP (Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched) is 1.02. Will Smith is also entering his prime. He would not be cheap. These are the level of bullpen arms we should be adding to our roster.