San Francisco Giants

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Overview (Present Rank: 10th | Future Rank: 18th)

The Golden State Warriors might be getting the most attention in the Bay Area nowadays, but in a lot of ways the San Francisco Giants are the baseball version of the San Antonio Spurs. Both franchises are the only professional teams in the 21st century to win three championships over a five-year period without ever winning consecutive conference championships. Both teams started their run of dominance soon after drafting possibly the best player to ever play his position.

Tim Duncan is viewed as the best Power Forward in NBA history whereas Buster Posey is well on his way to becoming the best Catcher in MLB history. Just like Duncan was surrounded by stars in David Robinson, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Kawhi Leonard, Posey is complimented by Madison Bumgarner, Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt, and Hunter Pence. The Spurs are often credited for their reliable coaching staff and intelligent front office. Likewise, the Giants have the most stable front office in baseball with Brian Sabean being the longest tenured GM in the game while Bruce Bochy has the most wins of any active major league manager.

Of course, some things are different. The Spurs won their titles in odd years (‘03, ‘05, ‘07) while the Giants are known as an even-year team (‘10, ‘12, ‘14). More importantly, the Spurs failed to win that fourth title in seven years while the Giants have armed themselves with Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, and Denard Span to go for that coveted fourth ring.

 

*Detailed analysis conducted April 4, 2016; rankings and charts updated throughout the season.

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Catcher (Present Rank: 3rd | Future Rank: 5th)

The Tim Duncan-Buster Posey comparison extends well past being the face of a modern-day dynasty. Duncan got the nickname “The Fundamental” because of being fundamentally sound and executing the little things that don’t always get noticed. Buster Posey is the definition of fundamentals when it comes to baseball as he always receives praise for his pitch-framing skills and game-calling abilities that don’t show up on the stat sheets. Duncan’s Rookie of the Year award and first MVP go right in line with Posey’s career accolades.

The 29 year-old Posey still has time to match Duncan’s second MVP and five championships that would equally cement himself as the best of all-time at his position. However, with Posey getting more and more reps at first base, it might be hard for him to be viewed as the best catcher of all-time if he spends the second half of his career at first base.  

The Giants will likely need Posey to stay at catcher, especially considering Andrew Susac and Aramis Garcia haven’t proven themselves worthy of playing time, and Trevor Brown is nothing more than a backup. Susac was the team’s No. 1 prospect entering 2015 (according to Baseball America), but saw his stock drop significantly after only mustering a .666 OPS over 133 AB’s in the MLB last year. Susac or Garcia would be an adequate backup with Susac still having the upside of a productive starter if he can get more contact against major league pitchers.

(EDIT: With a desperate need for an impact reliever, the Giants traded Andrew Susac along with RHP Phil Bickford to the Milwaukee Brewers for LHP Will Smith. Click here to see how Andrew Susac will fit in with the Brewers current catching situation after losing Jonathan Lucroy [8/1/16]).

Future Outlook: Posing a threat to the great Johnny Bench

Buster Posey is already considered a top-10 catcher of all-time six years into his career. At only 29 years old, he has plenty of time to climb up the list and eventually surpass Johnny Bench as the greatest catcher in MLB history. As he continues to age, Posey might play first base more often, but with the lack of enticing options in the minors, Posey could remain behind the plate as Brandon Belt simultaneously emerges as a lethal weapon at first base. Posey’s fundamentally sound game is reminiscent of the NBA’s Tim Duncan, and like the five-time NBA champion, Posey has a legitimate chance to be recognized as the greatest player to ever play his position when it’s all said and done.

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First Base (Present Rank: 10th | Future Rank: 11th)

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While Buster Posey might need more time at first base to rest his knees, Brandon Belt refuses to give it up quietly. After breaking out in 2013, Belt’s 2014 season was cut short due to a broken thumb. The former No. 1 prospect in San Francisco’s organization (according to Baseball America) has become a household name in his own right after bouncing back last year by posting a .280/.356/.478 slash line. Now in his age-28 season, Belt is entering his prime with better production likely on the horizon. With free agency looming two years away from now, the Giants will need to decide if they like Belt’s improved bat enough to sign him to a long-term contract, or if opening up first base for Buster Posey down the line is more important. (EDIT: The Giants signed Brandon Belt to a 6yr/$79MM extension [4/9/16])

Chris Shaw could be an internal option if Belt departs, although it’s unlikely he’ll be ready in time for the start of the 2018 season. The 2015 first round pick excites Giants executives because of the massive raw power in his 6’4” frame along with the smooth swing he’s displayed thus far in his professional career. Strikeouts could be a problem (20% SO rate in 2015), but Shaw will be focused on improving that in the next few years of his development. Defensively, Shaw doesn’t bring much value outside of first base, so if the team does re-sign Belt, expect Shaw to be trade bait for a relief pitcher or a young outfielder.

Future Outlook: Giants loosened their Belt, Brandon’s here to stay

After an impressive 2015 season to go along with a promising track record, the Giants opened up their pocket books and inked Belt to a long-term extension. Despite Buster Posey’s increasing need to play first base, San Francisco believes they can keep Posey behind the plate for the foreseeable future while periodically moving him to first and shifting Belt to left field. Either way, keeping Belt’s big bat in the lineup gives the Giants yet another homegrown player ready to contribute more championships for Bruce Bochy’s squad.

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Second Base (Present Rank: 24th | Future Rank: 7th)

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Despite being a first round pick and owning a career .295/.364/.401 batting line in 413 minor league games, Panik was never viewed as a top-100 prospect by any major prospect ranking outlet. He’s performed well at every level he’s reached topping his minor league production with a .309/.364/.419 career slash line through his first two seasons. Panik has already been recognized as an All-Star, but at 24 years-old, he still has plenty of time to add more accolades to his collection. With five more years of team control, there’s reason to believe he’ll accumulate those awards in a Giants uniform as well.

Panik will have the starting job all to himself for a while as neither Ehire Adrianza, Austin Slater, nor Ramiro Pena have what it takes to supplant Panik as the starting second baseman. Adrianza is likely to stick on as a quality utility man while Slater and Pena have much more to prove.

Future Outlook: No need to panic, Joe’s got this

Despite being underrated as a prospect, Joe Panik has burst onto the scene, quickly establishing himself as one of the best second baseman in the game. He’s not just an offensive threat either as his defense has received positive grades as well (9.0 UZR/150 in 2015). He’s also one of the best bargains in the league as he’ll be paid the league minimum for the next two years before being eligible for arbitration. Like Buster Posey and Brandon Belt, Joe Panik is another homegrown player primed to become a top-tier contributor at his position.

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Shortstop (Present Rank: 8th | Future Rank: 19th)

Yet another homegrown player occupies an infield spot for the San Francisco Giants. This time it’s Brandon Crawford quarterbacking the infield as one of the best defensive shortstop in the game (Andrelton Simmons is still king in that category). Known strictly for his defensive prowess, Crawford has emerged as a premier two-way player after a 21HR/84RBI performance last season (84 RBI’s led all shortstops in 2015). He was finally recognized for his outstanding glove work with his first Gold Glove that came at the same time as his first Silver Slugger award as well as his first All-Star game appearance. After locking up Crawford for the next six seasons, the Giants don’t have to worry about alternative options anytime soon.

If the Giants did need to another starting-caliber shortstops, Kelby Tomlinson wouldn’t qualify as a good choice since he’s best left in utility role, but Lucius Fox has the potential to emerge as a viable candidate a few years from now. The 18 year-old Fox was just signed for a hefty $6.5MM as an amateur free agent last year. He didn’t compete at the professional level last year, but he’s expected to start the season in Single-A making 2020 a realistic ETA. His speed and strong arm will carry him to the big leagues, but his approach at the plate, developed power, and ability to handle shortstop consistently will be the difference in him becoming a marquee player once Crawford departs or just another overpaid amateur.

(EDIT: The Giants included Lucius Fox in the trade package along with 3B Matt Duffy and RHP Michael Santos to the Tampa Bay Rays for LHP Matt Moore. Click here to see if Fox will have a better opportunity in Tampa Bay than he would have had in San Francisco with Crawford and Hinojosa in tact [8/1/16]).

While Fox might be overrated, C.J. Hinojosa could be immensely underrated. Hinojosa was viewed as a surefire early round pick, but terrible BABIP luck in his junior season caused him to drop to the 11th round where the Giants fortunately snagged him in last year’s draft. Without BABIP bad luck getting in the way, Hinojosa was back to his usual productive self in his first taste of professional ball. The 21 year-old’s quick bat, explosive swing, and track record could lead to a solid MLB career. Hinojosa will likely never be a plus defender, but a move to second base where he won’t have to rely on speed as much should benefit him. With Crawford and Panik fully entrenched at the two middle infield positions, Hinojosa could be trade bait over the next few years before he’s ready for the show in 2018.

Future Outlook: Great plays in the field, great hits in the batter’s box

After years of being known as a defensive specialist, Crawford emerged as the best hitting shortstop in the National League last year proven by his Silver Slugger award. The young guns in the American League (Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor) might emerge as a better hitter than the 29 year-old Crawford, but Crawford’s ability to hit for power and field at a high level are matched by no shortstop in today’s game. C.J. Hinojosa and Lucius Fox could be viable candidates down the road, but Brandon Crawford has already proven he’s one of the best values in baseball right now, and the Giants were wise to lock him up for a meager 6yr/$75MM price tag.

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Third Base (Present Rank: 9th | Future Rank: 16th)

It might seem like every starting infielder for San Francisco is a homegrown star player, but that may be because every starting infielder for San Francisco is actually a homegrown star player. Matt Duffy adds to the Giants’ impressive collection of native talent. Despite an historic rookie class in 2015, Duffy managed to finish second behind eventual winner Kris Bryant. Duffy doesn’t have nearly the same potential as the former top prospect, Kris Bryant, but he can certainly be a solid contributor in his own right. Many expect regression for Duffy in 2016 after a slow second half and benefitting from a high BABIP, but as a 25 year-old, he still has time to improve his swing, and build the strength necessary to display more power with his bat.

(EDIT: With a need for an impact starting pitcher, the Giants traded Matt Duffy, SS Lucius Fox, and RHP Michael Santos to acquire LHP Matt Moore from the Tampa Bay Rays. Click here to see how Duffy will fit on the Rays depth chart considering the team has 3B Evan Longoria locked up for the next seven years [8/1/16]).

If Duffy doesn’t suddenly transform into a top-tier third baseman, the Giants believe they have someone in their system that can be that destructive force at the hot corner. Christian Arroyo might not have any standout tools, but he has an all-around skillset that can translate to the next level. The 2013 first round pick has a smooth swing with a bat path that can produce double-digit home runs a year. He can also do it with his glove as well, and has the arm capable of playing shortstop or third base. Arroyo could be knocking on the door as soon as 2018.

Conor Gillaspie may not be a threat to Matt Duffy, but he’s one of the better backups in the league after being demoted as a starter due to a poor 2015 season. Gillaspie will only be paid the league minimum this year, and still has three more years of team control. His ability to play first base should keep him on the roster unless his 2016 production is even worse than 2015’s mediocre showcase.

(EDIT: The main reason the Giants were willing to deal Duffy was because the team acquired IF Eduardo Nunez from the Minnesota Twins for LHP Adalberto Mejia a few days prior. Nunez can play all over the infield, but with Belt, Panik, and Crawford entrenched at the other three positions, Nunez will call the hot corner his primary position in San Francisco. Click here to read more about what Nunez will bring to the Giants [8/1/16]).

Future Outlook: Bronson was good, but Christian should be even better

Not many baseball players become major leaguers while donning ‘Arroyo’ on the back of their jersey, but Bronson Arroyo made a career out of it. While he was impressive in his own right, the Giants No. 1 prospect entering this season (according to Baseball America) could be even better. Matt Duffy has control of the third base position for now, but his 2015 production might end up being a fluke in what could turn out to be a rather lackluster career. Christian Arroyo’s emergence could not only mean a more improved ‘Arroyo’ in the major leagues, but also a more improved third baseman for the Giants as they try to keep their dynasty alive in the 2020's.

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Outfield (Present Rank: 16th | Future Rank: 28th)

After coming over in a midseason trade three and a half years ago, Hunter Pence has emerged as one of the key cogs in San Francisco’s organization already helping the team win two championships instantly after he arrived in the Bay. The 33 year-old outfielder impressed the Giants so much, he was rewarded with a 5yr/$90MM extension lasting through the 2018 season. Pence’s all-around play gets even better in the postseason, and if it wasn’t for Madison Bumgarner’s legendary performance, Pence might’ve been awarded the 2014 World Series MVP as well. Pence’s 2015 season was plagued by injuries, but if healthy, he can still be a valuable asset for San Francisco going forward.

Angel Pagan will be manning the other corner outfield spot at AT&T Park. Many Giants fans recognize Pagan for his electrifying walk-off inside-the-park home run a few years ago. After some pedestrian seasons at the plate, Pagan batted over. 300 in 2014 to go along with his outstanding defense. The 34 year-old took a step back offensively last year, but should hit enough to warrant a spot in the lineup. If the Giants are looking for mid-season upgrades, Pagan’s role could be diminished to that of a fourth outfielder.

Realizing Pagan has lost a step, and isn’t a viable center fielder anymore, Gm Brian Sabean went out and acquired one of the best outfielders on the market in Denard Span. The 32 year-old will bring his speed and ability to get on-base to the top of an already promising lineup. The Giants believe Span could be the piece that elevates San Francisco from a title contender to a title favorite (the additions on the pitching staff help as well). For only three years and $31MM, the Giants could be getting great value if Span doesn’t dramatically decline with age.

Backing them up as the fourth outfielder will be the defensive-minded Gregor Blanco who is known for making the incredible diving catch that saved Matt Cain’s Perfect Game in 2012. Blanco would be a very valuable player if he could ever hit left-handed pitching. His inability to face southpaws leaves him in a part-time role.

The Giants don’t have many in-house candidates to emerge as a starter for this team. However, Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker have separated themselves amongst the competition as potential starting outfielders. They were each given a small amount of major league at-bats at the end of the season, but failed to impress. They still have reasonably high ceilings, Parker in particular as a power bat with a three-homer game already notched in his belt.

Future Outlook: 2016 looks solid. 2019...not so much

With Hunter Pence, Denard Span, and Angel Pagan, the Giants currently own one of the best two-way outfields in the game. However, the front office must be fully aware that all three starting outfielders are at least 32 years old with three years or less on their contracts. Even the team’s fourth outfielder, Gregor Blanco, is 32 years old. Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson represent two potential starting outfielders when the starters inevitably begin to decline the next few years, but San Francisco still needs help. This will be one of the team’s biggest priorities in the draft, on the trade market, and when signing amateur free agents over the next year.

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Left-Handed Starting Pitchers (Present Rank: 4th | Future Rank: 3rd)

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Since the beginning of the 2014 season (when the Giants won their third World Series in five years) San Francisco has had nine different pitchers start games for them. Eight of them have been right-handed (with Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija poised to join them in 2016) while only one has thrown from the left side. However, that one isn’t just any left-hander, he’s one of the best postseason pitchers in MLB history. In case you weren’t following the 2014 playoffs, Madison Bumgarner’s incredible performances lifted the Giants to another championship victory.

Only two players were rookies during the Giants’ first World Series season in 2010 and has remained a starter in each of the last five years. Those two players are Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner. Posey was awarded with the Rookie of the Year Award in 2010 (Bumgarner only pitched 111 regular season innings), but Bumgarner’s dominant eight-inning shutout in Game 4 of the World Series all but guaranteed the Giants would become champions for the first time since moving to the Bay in 1958. The 6’5” lefty is under team control for the next four years at bargain prices, and is the main reason the Giants continue to be among the league’s elite.

However, Bumgarner won’t be the sole lefty in San Francisco’s rotation for long. Adalberto Mejia and Andrew Suarez could soon join him as left-handed starters. Suarez was just snagged in the second round of last year’s draft while Mejia was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2013. They have each pitched well in the minors, but Mejia in particular stands out for his velocity and promising off-speed pitches. Suarez commands his fastball well, unlike Mejia, but nothing about Suarez repertoire is above-average. However the ability to command all of his pitches should keep him in the rotation as a back-end starter while Mejia’s development of his fastball command will be key in him earning a spot as a mid-rotation starter.

(EDIT: The Giants didn't want to wait until Adalberto Mejia's arrival to address the lack of southpaws behind Bumgarner in the rotation. While San Francisco traded Mejia to the Minnesota Twins for IF Eduardo Nunez, the team also acquired LHP Matt Moore from the Tampa Bay Rays for 3B Matt Duffy, Lucius Fox, and RHP Michael Santos. Click here to read more about what the former No. 2 prospect in baseball will bring to the Giants or here to see how Mejia will fit in Minnesota's future rotations [8/1/16]).

Future Outlook: Home of a living legend

Madison Bumgarner is one of the best pitchers in the game, and at 26 years old, he could still be getting better. He’s yet to win the Cy Young award, but he’d surely take the 2014 World Series MVP trophy instead. His performance in the playoffs, especially in 2014, has separated himself from any pitcher in today’s generation. Clayton Kershaw is generally referred to as the best pitcher in today’s game, but even he carries a meager 4.59 ERA when the pressure is on and the postseason lights shine brighter than ever. Bumgarner on the other hand owns a minuscule 0.25 ERA over 36 innings in the World Series proving his dominance when it matters most.

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Right-Handed Starting Pitchers (Present Rank: 15th | Future Rank: 24th)

Despite Madison Bumgarner already being an intimidating presence at the top of the rotation, the Giants added two more frontline starters to their now-elite starting rotation in Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. It took $220MM to bring the duo to the Bay ($130MM for Cueto; $90MM for Samardzija), but the Giants now have an unprecedented five All-Stars in their rotation. It’s one thing to have five players who were once All-Stars, but have now regressed, but other than Matt Cain, all of the Giants starters could be All-Stars once again in 2016.

An All-Star appearance for Jake Peavy in 2016 remains highly unlikely at 35 years old, but a 3.58 ERA, 1.120 WHIP, and 3.12 K/BB ratio might be the best of any No. 4 starter in the big leagues. Of course, those numbers are a far cry from what the 2007 Cy Young winner was doing in the first decade of the 21st century (3.26 ERA, 1.182 WHIP, 3.10 K/BB ratio) or is it? Peavy seems to have turned back to clock in 2015, and entering a contract year in 2016, he could continue his fight against father time before cashing in one last time.

While Cueto and Samardzija are still in their prime, Matt Cain appears to be three years past his. Despite being about the same age as Cueto and Samardzija, Cain’s effectiveness has drastically gone downhill over his last three seasons. Injuries have certainly played a part as Cain only totaled 151 innings over the last two years combined. One possible reason for Cain’s deterioration could be attributed to the fact Cain pitched at least 190 innings from age-21 to age-27 (184 IP at age-28). His arm could be showing signs of wear and tear before most pitchers because of his early debut and durability earlier in his career. Cain has shown no signs of turning things around, but anything above the league average in 2016 would be considered a plus coming from the team’s No. 5 pitcher.

The team is unlikely to get any reinforcements from the farm system any time soon, but a couple years from now, the team could be winning games thanks to a few intriguing prospects. Phil Bickford unquestionably has the highest ceiling of all San Francisco Giants prospects after being selected in the first round of last year’s draft. Bickford has an upper-90’s fastball that he throws with his 6’4” frame that can be quite intimidating for opposing hitters.

Bickford’s offspeed stuff has yet to develop, but he has shown flashes of his slider and changeup being above-average offerings. The stress on his arm when he throws could injure him down the line which seriously clouds his future outlook, but if he can build strength in his legs to have a stronger base to throw from, he can alleviate all the pressure his arm takes from throwing consistent gas. If he stays off the disabled list, Bickford could evolve into one of the game’s best pitchers.

(EDIT: In San Francisco's quest to strengthen the team's bullpen, they traded their highest-ceiling prospect Phil Bickford along with the team's No. 1 prospect last year C Andrew Susac to the Milwaukee Brewers for LHP Will Smith. Click here to see how Bickford will fit in Milwaukee's future rotations [8/1/16]).

Behind the promising Bickford is Sam Coonrod and Tyler Beede as mid-rotation candidates. Coonrad has a deceptive delivery that makes his fastball/slider combination look even more impressive, although a lack of a changeup could hinder his overall value. Beede on the other hand doesn’t have any pitch that looks particularly impressive, but his overall command and makeup give the Giants faith he can max out his value as a No. 3 starter. Michael Santos is also a name to keep an eye on, but it remains to be seen if his lackluster command will improve enough for him to stay out of the bullpen.

Chase Johnson, Jordan Johnson, Clayton Blackburn, and Kyle Crick have all gotten attention as pitching prospects at some point, but their future is likely tied to their effectiveness in the bullpen.

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Future Outlook: Money talks

The Giants have had a big hole in their rotation behind Madison Bumgarner. Jake Peavy started showing signs in life, but it isn’t wise to rely on him as a mid-rotation starter as he enters his age-35 season. So the longest tenured head executive in the game went out and inked two of the best starters on the market in Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija.

Both pitchers have spent the past few years headlining their own pitching staff’s, but Bumgarner’s presence will keep them from pitching in any potential wild-card one-game playoff. The investments in Cueto and Samardzija should keep the right-handed starters in San Fran alive and well, but even if they decline after cashing in their paychecks, young prospects Phil Bickford, Sam Coonrod, Tyler Beede, and Michael Santos are poised to join the rotation with the hopes of inking big contracts of their own.

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Bullpen (Present Rank: 24th | Future Rank: 17th)

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After racking up 38 saves last year, it’s clear Santiago Casilla will continue to be the team’s closer. He’s not be as dominant as Brian Wilson once was in the back of San Francisco’s bullpen, but he’s pretty darn good. Since signing with San Fran in 2010, he’s compiled a 2.22 ERA over 337 innings proving himself as one of the most consistent relievers in the game. He’ll be pitching this season on a contract year where he could approach Jonathan Papelbon’s record $50MM contract for a closing pitcher.

Also a free agent at the end of the year, Sergio Romo will continue pitching for the only franchise he’s been a part of. After being drafted by San Francisco in 2005, Romo has been through it all in the last decade. Once one of the game’s rising relievers to emerging as an elite closer to losing his job last year and going back to the setup role, Romo’s journey is still going. He’ll resume his role setting up Casilla, but could find a job elsewhere as a closer if he has a nice walk year in 2016.

With the possibility of Romo and Casilla wearing different jerseys in 2017 and beyond, the Giants could turn to Hunter Strickland to anchor the team’s bullpen in the future. His high-90’s fastball and impressive curveball helped him in his first full season in the big leagues last year. If he has another strong season in 2016, the Giants could seriously consider letting Romo and Casilla walk as they enter their mid-30’s in favor of the 27 year-old Strickland.

Javier Lopez will return as the lefty specialist, although he’s already 38 years old and a free agent at the end of the year. When Lopez is ready to call it quits, Josh Osich and Steven Okert will be ready to step in. However, both young lefties have the potential to make an impact in high-leverage situations facing both lefties and righties.

George Kontos and Derek Law will take a hold of the middle relief roles for the next few years as they are both under team control for at least the next four years. Mike Broadway and Cory Gearrin will likely have some role in the bullpen, but neither pitcher has a bright future outlook.

Tyler Rogers, Dan Slania, Joan Gregorio, and Albert Suarez have brighter futures in San Francisco’s bullpen. None of the quartet pose a threat to Hunter Strickland as the future closer or even to Osich or Okert as setup men, but they could each develop into solid middle relievers with Slania having the most potential of the four.

(EDIT: Through the first half of the 2016 campaign, the Giants bullpen has been good, but not great. As a team vying for it's fourth world championship in seven years, a strong bullpen is neccesary to reach that goal. So the team sent highly-regared prospects RHP Phil Bickford and C Andrew Susac to the Milwaukee Brewers for LHP Will Smith. Smith still has three more years of team control after 2016 which is huge considering Casilla and Romo will be free agents at the end of the year. Click here to see what to expect from Will Smith going forward [8/1/16]).

Future Outlook: Times change, bullpens change

Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo have been mainstays in San Fran’s bullpen for years dating back to the team’s first World Series victory in 2010. Now in 2016, both relief pitchers are entering contract years in their mid-30’s making a departure more likely. The Giants can always go out and sign, trade, or draft more relievers, but Casilla and Romo are icons in San Francisco. Hunter Strickland has the ability to take over as closer if they both depart, but it’s very possible Brian Sabean brings back at least one of them to anchor the bullpen going forward.

(EDIT: Now that LHP Will Smith is under team control through the 2019 season, the team has another high-leverage arm they can rely on if Casilla and Romo depart in free agency. Strickland is still the favorite for the closer job, but Smith will be a solid setup man [8/1/16]).

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OVERALL OUTLOOK: An even year tradition

The Giants won the World Series in 2010, 2012, and 2014. Trying to continue their even year tradition, San Francisco is going all-in for a 2016 championship run. The longest tenured MLB General Manager, Brian Sabean (technically now the Vice President of Baseball Operations) didn’t want to rely on even-year luck, so he brought in Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, and Denard Span to bolster his already championship-caliber squad.

A trifecta of Cueto, Samardzija, and Madison Bumgarner now lead the rotation, and any re-emergence from Matt Cain or Jake Peavy could elevate this rotation to one of the premier units in the league. The bullpen will be anchored by the effective trio of Santiago Castilla, Sergio Romo, and George Kontos once again with San Fran potentially looking to acquire more positive reinforcements as the year continues if the Giants are still in contention by July.

Good luck finding any weakness in the Giants’ lineup, especially when the reigning two-time Silver Slugger Bumgarner is in there. Angel Pagan might appear to be the weak link after a .262/.303/.332 batting line in 2015, but even he’s only a year removed from batting .300. San Francisco has a legitimate chance at sending 10 players to the All-Star game, they have one of the game’s best managers in Bruce Bochy, and 2014 World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner leads the pitching staff. Combine all of those things with a consistent bullpen, and that could be the recipe for more even-year success in the Golden State.

 

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