San Francisco Giants Rumors

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Santiago Casilla’s 2016 Option Vests

Santiago Casilla closed out the Giants win today for his 37th save. More importantly, he triggered his $6.5MM vesting option for 2016. As we learned earlier this season, Casilla needed to finish 55 games for the option to vest. He was already guaranteed a $1MM buyout if it did not vest, so he secured an additional $5.5MM today.

Casilla, 35,  had a strong season as the Giants closer with a 2.83 ERA, 9.58 K/9, and 3.61 BB/9. The strikeout rate was the best of his career. Over 496 career innings, Casilla has a 3.16 ERA, 7.94 K/9, 3.92 BB/9, and 95 saves.

Following the game, manager Bruce Bochy indicated that Casilla’s option would have been picked up even if it hadn’t vested, tweets Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News. Indeed, the decision was a no-brainer so long as Casilla finished the season healthy. The additional $5.5MM payment is well below market value for an established closer.

NL West Notes: Leake, Kennedy, Anderson

Reports have already indicated that the Giants will have interest in retaining Mike Leake beyond this season, but Bob Nightengale of USA Today adds a division rival to the mix of teams expected to pursue the right-hander (Twitter link). Per Nightengale, the D-Backs, in addition to the Giants, will show interest in Leake as a free agent once the season ends. Arizona is known to be on the hunt for rotation upgrades, and Leake would certainly add some stability; he’s shown the ability to thrive in a homer-friendly setting in Cincinnati, thanks in part to strong ground-ball tendencies, and he of course is familiar with Arizona, having played his college ball at ASU. Leake wouldn’t be the top-of-the-rotation fix the D-Backs have previously mentioned, but he’d be a nice source of 30-plus starts and about 200 innings to pencil into the rotation behind Patrick Corbin. Leake said Wednesday evening that he hopes to make a quick decision in free agency rather than spend a lengthy period of time feeling out the market. He did call it a “strong possibility” that he’d have interest in returning to the Giants, though he stopped short of saying he considered them an early favorite in free agency.

Here’s more from the NL West…

  • Yesterday might have marked Ian Kennedy‘s final start as a member of the Padres, and if it did, he ended his San Diego tenure with a flourish, writes’s Corey Brock. Kennedy, a free agent after the season, allowed one run on five hits and no walks with 11 strikeouts in six innings versus the Brewers. “There’s plenty of opportunities to talk,” Kennedy replied when asked about his potential departure from the Padres. “I think [general manager] A.J. [Preller] and [agent Scott Boras] have a good relationship. I feel I have the same relationship with him [Preller].” Kennedy will likely be the recipient of a qualifying offer, per Brock, and I can’t personally envision him accepting the one-year deal. Kennedy added that he thoroughly enjoyed his time in San Diego but is “excited” to see what awaits on the open market. As Brock notes, he’s the lone pitcher in the NL to make 30-plus starts in each of the past six seasons, and he also posted a 2.63 ERA over his final 17 starts, so interest in Kennedy should be strong.
  • Brett Anderson‘s final start of the season was also a strong one, writes the O.C. Register’s Bill Plunkett. And, in making that final start, he positioned himself to be added to the Dodgers‘ postseason rotation after some recent struggles and earned himself some extra cash, as Anderson will earn $2.4MM worth of incentives on top of his $10MM base salary based on innings pitched. The oft-injured southpaw discussed with Plunkett what it means to him to have completed a full, healthy season. “For all of the stuff I’ve been through the last handful of years to be able to make pretty much every start they asked me to is pretty special,” said Anderson. “Zack [Greinke] and Clayton [Kershaw] make it look easy, but double-digit wins in the big leagues is a tough thing to do [Anderson won 11] so I take pride in that.” Of course, more than pride was at stake, as Anderson will hit the open market looking for a multi-year deal this winter.

Heyman’s Latest: Nats, Managers/GMs, Kennedy, Martinez, Beltre, Desmond

While Matt Williams is all but certain to be let go following the season, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports in his latest Inside Baseball column, a source close to the situation tells him that Nationals GM/president of baseball ops Mike Rizzo “isn’t going anywhere.” The ill-fated acquisition of Jonathan Papelbon and Rizzo’s backing of Williams has led to some speculation about his job, but Heyman indicates that Washington’s top decision-maker is safe. Heyman focuses on the Nats in a lengthy intro to his column, also notably reporting that the “ship has sailed” on the Cubs‘ interest in Papelbon, making them an unlikely destination in a trade this winter. The Nats will try to unload Papelbon, though finding a trade partner in the wake of recent drama surrounding him will prove exceptionally difficult. Heyman also notes that Tyler Clippard and Gerardo Parra were Rizzo’s top two deadline priorities, but he didn’t have authorization to increase payroll, and thus turned to Papelbon, as the Phillies were willing to include money in the deal.

Some highlights from the rest of the lengthy but informative column…

  • In running down current GM vacancies as well as potential managerial openings, Heyman notes a number of likelihoods. Billy Eppler is expected to be offered the Angels‘ GM position, he hears, but the Halos may go with the increasingly popular two-executive format, meaning Josh Byrnes could be hired as president to work above Eppler. Torey Lovullo’s name could surface as a candidate for the Padres, especially given CEO Mike Dee’s ties to Boston. Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto could have a tough time with Lloyd McClendon, whom one Mariners person described as even more old-school than Mike Scioscia, and Heyman hears that former Rangers bench coach/Angels front office assistant Tim Bogar could get a look.
  • The Indians will be looking for third basemen this winter and could seek upgrades in center field and right field as well.
  • Rockies GM Jeff Bridich is said to be a believer in young right-hander Eddie Butler, a former Top 100 prospect that has struggled mightily in the Majors. Others in the organization aren’t as sold on him.
  • The Tigers will be looking for a closer and at least one setup man this winter, and they could show interest in the RedsAroldis Chapman on the trade market (though he strikes me as a questionable fit with just one year until free agency). Detroit will also be seeking rotation upgrades on the free agent market, and a few players of early interest are Scott Kazmir, Ian Kennedy and Jeff Samardzija. Trades for rotation help are also possible, though Detroit wants to hold onto Daniel Norris and Michael Fulmer.
  • Cuban outfield prospect Eddy Julio Martinez recently worked out for the Royals and had an impressive showing. The Dodgers and Giants remain interested as well, he adds. It’s worth also pointing out that each of those three clubs has already spent heavily enough on international free agents to incur maximum penalties, so the only further repercussion they’d face is further luxury taxation.
  • The Brewers will target rotation help this offseason, and Heyman calls Kennedy a “possibility.” To me, that’d seem like more of the same from recent winters, when Milwaukee added Matt Garza and Kyle Lohse — a pair of mid-range upgrades. Unlike those winters, however, they’re not close enough to contention this time around for me to see the logic in offering Kennedy a four-year deal, especially since he’ll probably end up with a qualifying offer attached to his name. On another Brewers’ note, Heyman writes that the team should listen on Jean Segura, given Orlando Arcia‘s emergence in the minors, though I’m not sure Segura is teeming with trade value following another poor season.
  • Samardzija could be a target for the Yankees, who employ former Cubs GM Jim Hendry in their front office. Hendry was Chicago’s general manager when the team initially signed Samardzija and remains a believer in the right-hander.
  • The D-Backs, Nationals, Tigers, Cubs, Rangers, Yankees and maybe the Braves will all show interest if the Padres decide to move Craig Kimbrel this winter.
  • Adrian Beltre will need to undergo surgery to repair a severe thumb sprain through which he’s been playing for quite some time following the Rangers‘ season.
  • There’s “no chance” that Ian Desmond would accept a one-year qualifying offer, writes Heyman, who presumes that the Nationals will make the offer. Though Desmond’s struggled this year, it shouldn’t be expected that any prime-aged player who isn’t coming off a major injury would accept the offer, in my view. Detractors will state that said player can’t find a similar average annual value on a multi-year deal, and while that may be true, locking in a more sizable payday once free agency is an option tends to be a greater priority. Heyman lists the Mariners, White Sox and Mets as speculative possibilities to enter the shortstop market. Desmond won’t top $100MM, like many once expected, but even with a QO in tow, he’ll be able to handily top $16MM, even at a lower AAV. And, if the offers don’t materialize, he can always sign a one-year deal at or near that rate later in the offseason.

NL West Notes: Murphy, Streich, Upton, Vogelsong, Anderson

Padres interim skipper Pat Murphy tells Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune that he is grateful for the chance to take the helm, even if he doesn’t end up keeping the seat for next year. The industry expectation is that San Diego will search for a new manager, says Lin, though the club has yet to make its direction clear. Murphy covers the full scope of his career in the interesting interview, concluding with a pitch for a full shot at running the Pads’ dugout: “I’m certain I can do it,” he says. “I’d love the opportunity to go to spring training and try to change the culture and create a dynamic that leads the Padres into great success in the future.”

Here’s more from San Diego and the rest of the NL West:

  • Padres righty Seth Streich, who came to San Diego along with catcher Derek Norris in last winter’s trade with the Athletics, recently underwent Tommy John surgery,’s Corey Brock reports on Twitter. Streich had already missed this season due to shoulder surgery — as the club expected when it acquired him — but the new procedure will bump out his recovery window by at least another year.
  • It remains to be seen whether outfielder Justin Upton will play again for the Padres this year, tweets Brock. As Brock had reported previously, Upton had suffered a scary-looking collision with the outfield wall. It’s obviously good news that the injury seems minor, but it could well spell the end of the pending free agent’s tenure in San Diego.
  • Ryan Vogelsong says he’s committed to pitching next year, but doubts it will be with the Giants, as Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News reports“The last month, not getting a lot of time on the mound, I’m probably not high on the priority list – which is something hate to say, as much as I love it here and love everybody in the clubhouse,” said Vogelsong. While he declined to shut the door on a return, he explained that his usage “pretty much puts the writing on the wall.” The 38-year-old continued: “I really don’t have any expectations now other than I want to play and I’d like a chance to start and I still feel I can take the ball for 32 starts in a season. We’ll see where the wind blows me. Physically I feel as good as I have. My arm feels good. I still feel I have a lot to offer to somebody, and we’ll see who that is.”
  • Dodgers lefty Brett Anderson had a strong outing tonight to cap a nice year, and was rewarded for it. By topping 180 innings, J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group was among those to note, Anderson moved past two bonus milestones (175 and 180 innings) in his contract. All told, after adding $750K this evening on top of already-earned payouts, the 27-year-old has tacked on $2.4MM to the $10MM guarantee he received as a free agent. Even better, a healthy and productive season has Anderson set up nicely for his return to the open market this winter.

Jeremy Affeldt To Retire At Season’s End

Giants left-hander Jeremy Affeldt will retire after the 2015 season, the team announced today via press release.

Jeremy Affeldt

Affeldt, 36, has enjoyed a 14-year career at the Major League level, the past seven of which have come as a member of the Giants’ bullpen. He’s helped the team capture three World Series Championships in that time and recorded a 3.07 ERA with 7.3 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 and 10 saves in 360 1/3 innings.

Originally selected in the third round of the 1997 draft by the Royals, Affeldt debuted with Kansas City in 2002 as a 23-year-old and spent the next three seasons splitting time between the rotation and the bullpen. He was traded to the Rockies at the deadline in 2006, and though he struggled to a 6.91 ERA in his first 27 1/3 innings with Colorado, Affeldt went on to enjoy very strong seasons there in 2007-08. In that time, he worked to a 3.41 ERA in 137 1/3 innings of relief despite pitching roughly half of his games in one of MLB’s most notorious hitters’ havens.

All told, Affeldt logged 924 2/3 innings as a Major Leaguer, posting a 43-46 record to go along with 28 saves, 141 holds, a 3.97 ERA, 7.0 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and a 52.4 percent ground-ball rate. In addition to his solid regular-season numbers, Affeldt was a postseason hero for the Giants, allowing just three runs over the course of 30 1/3 playoff innings. He was credited as the winning pitcher of the decisive Game 7 in last year’s instant classic showdown with the Royals.

Affeldt signed three contracts with the Giants, the first of which was a two-year, $8MM pact. His strong performance under that deal led the Giants to sign him to a two-year, $9.25MM extension which contained a $5MM club option that was ultimately exercised. The last of his contracts, which he’s currently wrapping up, was a three-year, $18MM free-agent deal signed in the 2012-13 offseason. All told, Affeldt has earned more than $42MM in his playing career, per Baseball-Reference, a very nice sum for a relief pitcher that was never consistently a closer but was long a rock-solid setup man. MLBTR wishes Affeldt and his family the best of luck and continued happiness in his post-playing days.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Mike Leake Hopes To Make Quick Decision In Free Agency

Mike Leake turned in one of the strongest starts of his career in his final trip to the mound before becoming a free agent last night, as he fired a two-hit shutout against the Dodgers. Following the contest, Leake told reporters, including Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area and the San Jose Mercury News’ Andrew Baggarly, that he doesn’t want a prolonged venture on the free agent market. “I’d rather not wait,” he told the media. “I’d like to pick a team and get ready to go with that team.”

Asked specifically about the notion of returning to San Francisco, the California native replied: “It’s a strong possibility that this is a place I’d like to play. It’s kind of wait-and-see. You never know what’s going to happen.”

The Giants parted with their top-ranked prospect, right-hander Keury Mella, and utility man Adam Duvall in order to acquire Leake from the Reds on July 30. Manager Bruce Bochy doesn’t make the roster decisions, but he offered praise for Leake and noted that the entire organization is a fan of his arm. “It’s obvious we like Mike a lot,” said Bochy (via Baggarly). “We traded for him. He’ll have some choices, some options, but we think a lot of him. That’s why we acquired him.” As Pavlovic notes, Leake was a childhood teammate of Brett Bochy, so the team’s skipper is quite familiar with him. A new deal with Leake is high on the team’s priority list this winter, Pavlovic adds.

Leake’s results since coming over from Cincinnati haven’t been as strong as they were in his past two and a half seasons with the Reds, but he’s been bothered by a hamstring strain and a bit of forearm discomfort, though neither seemed to trouble him Wednesday evening. Bochy called Leake’s hamstring injury a “freak deal,” suggesting that there isn’t much worry over the issue lingering.

With the Giants, Leake pitched to a 4.07 ERA with 4.7 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a 52.3 percent ground-ball rate. On the season as a whole, he totaled a 3.70 ERA for the second consecutive year and averaged 5.6 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 with a 51.8 percent ground-ball rate across 30 starts and 192 innings. He fell just shy of his second straight 200-inning season, but Leake has nonetheless been a durable rotation piece over the past three seasons, averaging 31 starts and 200 innings per year.

That type of durability has been something the Giants lacked throughout the 2015 campaign, as the team relied on nine different starting pitchers, only two of whom topped 120 innings (Chris Heston threw 174 innings, and Madison Bumgarner tossed 218 1/3). That same durability, though, will make Leake appealing to other teams, as will his high ground-ball rate, his consecutive seasons of a sub-4.00 ERA in Cincinnati’s very hitter-friendly home park and his age. At just 27 years old right now, Leake will pitch the first season of his new free-agent deal at 28, making him considerably younger than most free agent pitchers and lending credence to the notion of him signing a five-year deal on the open market.

Marlon Byrd’s Option Unlikely To Vest

Marlon Byrd is just 15 plate appearances shy of the 550 required for his $8MM option to vest, but it appears that will not happen, writes Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area. Manager Bruce Bochy told the San Francisco media before today’s contest that his plan is to play rookies Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker as much as possible in the team’s final games.

As Pavlovic notes, the decision comes on the heels of the Dodgers’ clinching of the NL West division championship. Had the Giants remained in the race, he writes, Byrd likely would’ve remained in the lineup and accrued the necessary plate appearances to trigger the option. Instead, Bochy feels it more valuable to rookies Williamson and Parker as well as to the team as a means of assessing the young talent.

General manager Bobby Evans met with Byrd to discuss the decision today, Pavlovic adds, and Bochy himself is also planning a sit-down with the veteran corner outfielder. Despite the fact that Byrd’s option will not vest, Evans conveyed to the 38-year-old that San Francisco would very much like him to return for the 2016 season. Per Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News, Evans offered the following take on Byrd:

“He’s been a great addition to our club and we have interest in bringing him back for next year. When we acquired Marlon, our mindset was to do everything to win, and if we get eliminated, we do what we should do and that’s give our young players a chance to play. Right now, our mindset is to give our young players a chance.”

The Giants acquired Byrd from the Reds roughly six weeks ago, as injuries to both Hunter Pence and Nori Aoki had compromised their outfield depth. In his 147 plate appearances with San Francisco, Byrd has batted a very solid .275/.306/.449 with three homers, 11 doubles and a pair of triples. Overall this season, Byrd has rather pedestrian numbers against right-handed pitching, having batted .238/.279/.436. However, he’s been far more effective when holding the platoon advantage, batting .276/.331/.488 against lefties.

With questionable OBP but solid pop against righties and strong overall production against lefties, Byrd looks the part of at least a platoon outfielder that could occasionally be relied upon for more regular playing time, should injuries necessitate that scenario. The Giants, presumably, would want him back in that capacity as opposed to a starting option. He could, theoretically anyhow, be re-signed at a lower rate and paired with Aoki (whose $5.5MM option seems likely to be exercised) to form a left field platoon, with Pence manning right field.

Baggarly wonders if a two-year deal might be necessary on the Giants’ behalf to make up for the damage done by willfully preventing Byrd’s option from vesting, though, and if that’s the case, I can see San Francisco deeming the price too much. The team could, after all, elect focus its financial resources on upgrading the pitching staff and deploy the right-handed-hitting Williamson in a similar capacity to the one I suggested for Byrd.

NL West Notes: Desmond, Upton, Padres, Hill

The Dodgers clinched their third straight NL West championship in style last night as Clayton Kershaw threw a complete game one-hitter to whitewash the Giants.  Kershaw struck out 13 and allowed just one walk in the 8-0 result.  The Dodgers will move on to face the Mets in the NLDS, and home-field advantage has yet to be decided in what is sure to be a pitching-centric series.  Here’s some more from around the NL West…

  • Some members of the Padres organization like Ian Desmond, Justin Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweets.  Desmond is coming off a disappointing walk year though he might still represent a big shortstop upgrade for a club that has struggled to find productive middle infielders in recent seasons.
  • The Padres aren’t likely to re-sign Justin Upton,’s Corey Brock says in an interview with Marty Caswell of The Mighty 1090 Sports Show (video link).  Brock isn’t sure the Padres ever planned to have Upton beyond this season, as the plan seemed to be to issue him a qualifying offer and then get a first round pick back when he signed elsewhere.  The interview is well worth a full watch as Brock discusses several Padres topics looking ahead to the 2016 team, including Yonder Alonso‘s future, big names on the trade block and the team’s manager search.  For the record, Brock predicts that Ron Washington will be San Diego’s next manager.
  • Aaron Hill tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that he asked the Diamondbacks to look into trading him prior to the season.  The veteran infielder made the request after he was told he’d be used in a part-time role, though Hill said he wouldn’t have asked if he’d known that he’d still be receiving significant playing time (111 games and 338 PA entering today).  Hill admitted that the trade rumors swirling around him may have impacted his play, and if so, “that’s on me.  The last couple months have been nice. Maybe it’s because it was after the deadline and things were a little clearer about where I was going to be the rest of the year.”  Both Hill and GM Dave Stewart expect him to be back with the Snakes next year, though given Hill’s $12MM salary in 2016 and his .239/.290/.359 slash line over the last two seasons, a trade would’ve seemed unlikely anyway unless the D’Backs agreed to eat some money.
  • A new contract between Tim Lincecum and the Giants is “more a matter of when, how much and in what form, rather than if,” according to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News.  Lincecum underwent hip surgery in early September that ended his season, though rumors have swirled since then that both he and his long-time team were interested in Lincecum remaining in the Bay Area.  Indeed, Baggarly hears that “interest is mutual and strong” between the two sides in continuing their relationship.

NL West Notes: Padres, Aoki, Casilla, Tomas

The Padres have been fined by Major League Baseball for an infraction of the international signing rules, reports Scott Miller of Bleacher Report. According to Miller, the Padres flew prospects from Venezuela to Aruba for private workouts shortly before the onset of this year’s international signing period. That maneuver violated a league rule which states that teams are not allowed to host workouts for prospects that are not yet old enough to sign anywhere other than their native countries. The amount of the fine is not clear, per Miller, and the violation hasn’t done anything to jeopardize the job status of GM A.J. Preller, who is still in the first season of a five-year contract.

Elsewhere in the division…

  • It was reported over the weekend that the Giants hope to bring back Marlon Byrd in 2016, and as Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News now writes, manager Bruce Bochy has also expressed a desire to retain Nori Aoki. A platoon of the two in left field could make some sense, Baggarly notes, though paying that platoon a combined $13.5MM (the sum of Byrd’s $8MM option and Aoki’s $5.5MM option) may be too much. Baggarly points out that the top priority this winter will be to rebuild the rotation, and an expensive outfield platoon could detract from that goal. Byrd’s option will vest with another 18 plate appearances.
  • Also within the piece, Baggarly points out that closer Santiago Casilla‘s option will vest if he finishes two more games this season. That would lock in his 2016 salary at $6.5MM, but Baggarly writes that the Giants will probably pick up the option anyway, even if Casilla doesn’t reach the necessary milestone.
  • The Diamondbacks‘ outfield situation is crowded, writes Yahoo’s Tim Brown, meaning the team might end up moving one of its corner options this winter. David Peralta, Ender Inciarte and Yasmany Tomas have all seen time in the corners this season, but despite Tomas’ shrinking role and disappointing second half, he’s likely to remain with the club. As Brown points out, Tomas reported to Spring Training out of shape this season, and the club will push him to arrive in much better physical condition next year. Manager Chip Hale told Brown to expect “a huge jump” in Tomas’ performance next season, adding, “No. 1, he’s going to come back in a lot better shape.”

Giants Interested In Retaining Marlon Byrd For 2016

The Giants are interested in keeping outfielder Marlon Byrd in 2016, Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. The Giants have an $8MM club option for Byrd’s services in 2016 as part of the deal he originally signed with the Phillies.

There are, however, other factors at play here. As Jeff Todd noted in his vesting options update from earlier this week, Byrd’s option automatically vests if he gets 550 plate appearances this season. Byrd currently stands at 513 with ten games remaining. If the Giants were to simply let him play every day for the rest of the season, it’s likely his option would vest. With a couple days off, Byrd could come up just short, in which case the Giants would get to make a decision. The Giants’ interest in Byrd suggests they could simply exercise the option even if it doesn’t vest, and that wouldn’t be unreasonable — Byrd is hitting just .250 with a .296 OBP this year, but with 22 home runs and a .456 slugging percentage, he remains useful.

Then again, Byrd is already 38, and it’s also conceivable the Giants could hope to retain him more cheaply than $8MM, especially since the injured Hunter Pence will be back in 2016, pushing Byrd to more of a fourth-outfielder-type role. The Giants will also likely want to spend money on pitching. Since they’re currently are all but out of the playoffs, they could easily defend having Byrd sit a game or two for the rest of the season in order to give an extra start to a September call-up like Jarrett Parker or Mac Williamson. That would likely prevent the option from vesting. Of course, Byrd might then see an attempt to sign him more cheaply as bad faith, which might cause him to sign elsewhere, particularly if he were assured of more playing time.

That sort of maneuvering doesn’t seem typical of the Giants, however. They’re usually loyal to their players, frequently extending or re-signing veterans (including Pence, Tim Lincecum, Sergio Romo, Jake Peavy, Javier Lopez, Ryan Vogelsong, Jeremy Affeldt and Marco Scutaro) shortly before or shortly after they hit free agency. Byrd’s value certainly seems close to $8MM, so if the Giants want to keep him, they seem likely to try to do so in such a way that his impending option situation doesn’t cause strife. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to watch the box scores for the rest of the season to see how much Byrd plays.