The Giants have signed right-hander Jakob Junis to a one-year, Major League contract, per the team. Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reports that Junis, a Wasserman client, will be guaranteed $1.75MM on the deal. Right-hander Hunter Harvey has been designated for assignment in order to clear a 40-man roster spot, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Junis, 29, has spent his entire professional career in the Royals organization prior to this deal. A former 29th-round pick, he made his big league debut with Kansas City back in 2017 and, for his first two seasons at least, looked like he might hold down a spot in their rotation for the foreseeable future. Over those two seasons, Junis was a valuable source of solid, if unspectacular innings, pitching to a combined 4.35 ERA with a 20.7% strikeout rate and a strong 5.7% walk rate over the life of 275 1/3 frames.
The 2019 season marked the beginning of a downturn for Junis, however, and he has yet to recover. Junis made 31 starts for Kansas City in ’19 and soaked up 175 1/3 innings but was tagged for an untenable 5.24 ERA on the season. He’s posted an even higher ERA in each of the past two seasons and, on the whole, owns a 5.36 mark over his past 240 big league innings.
That said, Junis has maintained plus levels of command even amid his downturn and picked up strikeouts at a slightly above-average rate last season. He doesn’t throw particularly hard (91.1 mph average fastball in ’21) but has ample experience both in the rotation and in the bullpen at the MLB level. He also has a minor league option remaining and, because he was cut loose by the Royals during his arbitration years, he can be controlled through the 2023 season if he rebounds in San Francisco and finds his footing.
The Giants, of course, have developed quite the reputation for restoring the careers of pitchers, and Junis is badly in need of just such a bounceback. He won’t have a rotation spot to begin the season — not with Logan Webb, Carlos Rodon, Anthony DeSclafani, Alex Wood and Alex Cobb all on board — but he can give the Giants a multi-inning/long-relief option and serve as a sixth starter. Given the injury histories of Rodon, Wood, Cobb and DeSclafani, having some experience depth like Junis carries extra importance.