For a while there, the Giants’ offseason was looking downright awful. When the club missed out on Aaron Judge in agonising fashion, that was a low point. Then the Carlos Correa saga began; another twist of the knife for Giants fans, in the cruelest way possible. I wrote a whole piece on how exciting it all was, which became redundant a short time later when that dreaded medical reared its ugly head. Mets fans have experienced their own brand of the Correa hangover and in the process the Giants salvaged some part of their dignity.
Still, there’s no escaping the fact it’s been a disappointing winter in San Francisco. However, it’s not the complete and utter disaster many try to paint it as.
A lot of this offseason has focused on who the Giants didn’t get, which is sad. We don’t need to be so negative. If you push all the Judge and Correa drama to one side, you’ll see the Giants have made a concentrated effort to improve the roster, and added some quality players to get excited about.
With Spring Training still some way over the horizon, let’s recap where the Giants are right now. Today in part one, we’ll look at the new arms set to feature in the rotation and bullpen:
Luke Jackson – RHRP – 2 yrs/$11.5M (+2025 team option)
A World Series winner with the Braves in 2021, Luke Jackson became one of the more accomplished setup relievers in the National League: a 1.98 ERA over 63.2 innings with an excellent 9.9 K/9. Then his elbow exploded and Jackson needed Tommy John surgery in April 2022, ruling him out for the entire year.
The Giants under Farhan Zaidi have excelled at taking previously injured guys and getting production from them once they’ve ceremoniously bathed in the healing waters of the Bay Area. You’ll spot this pattern with many of the new additions, Jackson included. The Giants are optimistic Jackson will overcome the setback, rebound post-surgery, and become an elite contributor in the bullpen. Certainly his veteran presence and experience is welcome, at the very least, but I believe this could be a shrewd and savvy addition by season’s end.
Taylor Rogers – LHRP – 3 yrs/$33M
Taylor and Tyler. Tyler and Taylor. Identical twin relief pitchers, now on the same team. Thank you Giants, thank you for my impending future of struggle and confusion. Thank goodness they wear different numbers.
How awesome is this?
Twin brothers Taylor and Tyler Rogers having a catch on a major league field. pic.twitter.com/9FlJbhw0aU
— MLB (@MLB) July 10, 2022
In all seriousness, by adding Taylor Rogers to their bullpen, the Giants have acquired one of the best left-handed relievers in the league. Taylor’s history of closing experience will be invaluable in high leverage moments, and will compliment incumbent Giants closer Camilo Doval perfectly. Doval the fire-hurling right-hander doesn’t have to be forced into every save situation now that Taylor Rogers can be his left-handed counterpart. They should combine to form a formidable duo.
Taylor’s 12.3 K/9 rate over the last two years will be a fine addition to the Giants bullpen and strengthens a group that experienced their share of struggles in 2022. If nothing else, having the twin brothers together in the same city, on the same club, will make for a heartwarming narrative.
Sean Manaea – LHP – 2 yrs/$25M (includes opt out)
Despite being born and raised in Indiana, Sean Manaea certainly is fond of California. The soon-to-be 31-year-old pitcher has never played for a professional team beyond the borders of the Golden State. In fact, Manaea is already very familiar with the Bay Area, having spent the first six years of his career just over the water in Oakland. A 2022 pitstop in San Diego enabled him to explore a bit more of the state he seemingly adores, though his on-field performance meant his stay with the Padres was far from enjoyable.
Manaea pitched to a career-worst 4.96 ERA over 158 innings and 28 starts last season but the Giants are hoping his time with the Padres was a blip in an otherwise solid career. Worth 3.2 WAR in 2021 (per Fangraphs), there is optimism Manaea can return to that level in San Francisco. The Giants are hopeful their pitching coaches can work their wizardry on yet another player who appears to be in decline, but may have enough left in him to provide the team with value.
They have a good track record with pitchers who possess a similar makeup to Manaea: Logan Webb, Alex Cobb, and one-time Giant Kevin Gausman are among those who have thrived off the sinker and changeup combo in San Francisco. Manaea won’t replace Carlos Rodón but if he can keep the walks down and the ball in the park, he stands a chance at finding success by the Bay once again.
Ross Stripling – RHP – 2 yrs/$25M (includes opt out)
The first thing I discovered about Ross Stripling was his wonderful nickname: Chicken Strip. You have to love that.
Tonight I started a Major League Baseball game with "Chicken Strip" across my back. Dreams do come true people! pic.twitter.com/CSmYmdXs6R
— Ross Stripling (@RossStripling) August 27, 2017
On a similar deal as Manaea, both of whom signed two-year, $25 million contracts that have opt-outs after year one, Stripling’s contract should theoretically carry a lot less risk, thanks to an impressive 2022 season. The former Blue Jay (and Dodger, but keep that quiet) enjoyed a 3.01 ERA over 134.1 innings and 24 starts. At 33-years-old there may be some concern over how he fares in San Francisco, as Stripling has missed time with injury in the past (but what pitcher hasn’t). However, it seems safe to assume the Giants plan to plug 2022 Stripling into their rotation and sit back and enjoy the results.
Stripling possesses fantastic command and the unique ability to limit his free passes, recording an outstanding 1.34 BB/9 rate last year. In fact, his career walk rate is just 2.13 BB/9, which is historically low; since 1940, Stripling is among the top-100 starters for best BB/9 (per Fangraphs).
Make no mistake, Stripling (and Manaea) cannot replace Rodón. Losing their ace in free agency to the Yankees left a hole at the top of the Giants’ rotation that was impossible to fill. And yet, the combination of Stripling and Manaea does improve the depth of this rotation, enough so that it could cover the loss of a Rodón-like figure. Could is the key word here of course, but watching how it all plays out is why we devote so much of our attention to this magnificent game.
By now dear reader you’ve surely forgotten all about those Judge and Correa characters, and the pitchers the Giants have acquired have restored your faith in the franchise. If you need more convincing then fear not, as part two will cover the new position players set to don the orange and black in 2023 and beyond.
Join me next time for more on this tumultuous and unforgettable winter in San Francisco.
Ash Day is the San Francisco Giants writer for Bat Flips and Nerds. Follow him on Twitter @AshDay29
Photo credit for featured image by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images.