December 22: As it turns out, Watson actually didn’t exercise his player option; rather, he and the Giants negotiated a new deal that will pay him $3MM in 2020, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network. He’ll still have the chance to earn $4MM worth of incentives, bringing his potential 2020 earnings to a total of $7MM.
Watson arrived in San Fran in 2018 via a modest two-year, heavily incentivized deal that promised him a combined $6.5MM over the first two years of the deal, with a 2020 option attached. Watson’s option for 2020 is guaranteed at $2.5MM, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today relays that Watson will have the opportunity to earn $7.5MM total in 2020 via incentives (link); At the time of the deal’s signing, it was reported that Watson had the ability to earn $14MM over two years or $21MM for three years, depending on escalators and performance bonuses.
Regardless of the particularities of his salary structure, this offseason would have likely marked an inopportune time for the 34-year-old Watson to hit the open market. 2019 marked the lefty’s first season pitching to an ERA in excess of 4.00, and he also logged some of the lowest strikeout totals (6.83 K/9) of his career in the process. Worse yet, a broken wrist ended his season prematurely in early September.
Of course, between 2013 and 2018 Watson was one of the game’s most reliable southpaw bullpen arms, recording a 2.46 ERA in 424.2 innings with the Pirates and the Dodgers. Now, the Boras client can suit up for San Francisco for one more go-around in 2020 in hopes of recapturing that old form and reentering the market again in advance of the 2021 season.