Free-agent reliever Ken Giles will host a workout for interested teams on Feb. 8, tweets Jon Heyman of the New York Post. The showcase will give big league clubs a look at Giles just before spring training commences.
Still just 32 years old, Giles has pitched only 4 1/3 innings over the past two seasons. The former Astros and Blue Jays closer underwent Tommy John surgery on Sept. 30, 2020, which wiped out his entire 2021 season. He signed a two-year deal with the Mariners in the 2020-21 offseason with the hope that he could be a pivotal member of Seattle’s bullpen in the second year of the contract, but a strained tendon in his right middle finger further pushed back his timeline.
Giles didn’t allow a run in those 4 1/3 innings he tossed with Seattle last year, but he also walked four of the 18 batters he faced and pitched with a 94.8 mph average fastball that was down quite a ways from the 97 mph he averaged in his last full, healthy season (2019). The Mariners designated Giles for assignment in August, after which he elected free agency and signed a minor league deal with the Giants. He didn’t get back to the Majors by season’s end, however.
Three full seasons have elapsed since Giles was last a dominant late-inning force, but given his track record, he should still draw eyes from scouts. From 2014-19, Giles logged 347 1/3 innings of 2.67 ERA ball and stacked up 114 saves between the Phillies, Astros and Jays. He fanned exactly one-third of his opponents along the way and did so while posting a lower-than-average 7.5% walk rate. Over that six-year period, only four qualified relievers in all of MLB posted a better swinging-strike rate than his mark of 17%: Josh Hader, Edwin Diaz, Koji Uehara and Aroldis Chapman. He ranked 15th among that same set of 331 relievers in terms of generating chases on pitches outside the strike zone (36.5%).
Whether Giles can regain that dominant form is an open question, but given what’s sure to be a low cost of acquisition, he’ll likely get an opportunity to do so with some club in a few weeks’ time.