The Giants can consider themselves fortunate — with emphasis on “fortune” — to have been the first team to leap into the market for a free-agent closer at baseball’s Winter Meetings, which concluded Thursday.
Having agreed with right-hander Mark Melancon on a four-year, $62 million deal Monday, the Giants sat back and watched the next big-time closer, left-hander Aroldis Chapman, come to terms on a five-year, $86 million contract.
Obviously, the Giants’ timing benefited them economically. That notion could be underscored even further once right-hander Kenley Jansen, the remaining unsigned member of the formidable free-agent closers trio, reaches an agreement. It’s widely anticipated that Jansen will command five years and $80 million.
Thus, by these megabuck standards, the Giants got an excellent deal by latching onto Melancon — a shorter commitment, albeit by only one year, with less guaranteed money involved.
Giants general manager Bobby Evans said the reported value of Chapman’s contract wasn’t surprising. He acknowledged the Giants were “in on” talks with Chapman’s representatives, though that was primarily to monitor the market. From the beginning of the negotiation process, Giants officials have insisted, Melancon was the closer they wanted.
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Evans did not completely rule out making a deal to bolster left field, where the Giants statistically ranked in the middle of the pack or worse among National League clubs last season. San Francisco was 13th in home runs (14) and RBIs (64) while finishing eighth in runs (87) and ninth in OPS (.720).
Asked whether the Giants explored the possibility of signing free agent Yoenis Cespedes, who recently received a four-year, $110 million deal to stick with the New York Mets jerseys, Evans said, “We check in on everything.” But, he added, “your farm system’s there for a reason.”
That reflected Evans’ preference to leave left field to the left-handed-hitting Parker, who batted .236 with five home runs and 14 RBIs in 63 games last season, or Williamson, a .223 hitter with six homers and 15 RBIs in 54 games during 2016.
Kontos (3-2, 2.53 ERA, .219 opponents’ batting average in 57 games during 2016) and Gearrin (3-2, 4.28 in 56 games) are candidates to help provide the depth that San Francisco’s bullpen seeks. Smith (.212 opponents’ average, 48 strikeouts in 40 1/3 innings) is a proven veteran. Nunez (.288/.325/.432) is a projected regular, though he’ll have to compete for playing time with Gillaspie (.262 in 101 games) who excelled in the postseason. Adrianza (.254 in 40 games), when healthy, functions as a handy utility player.
The six Giants avoided joining the list of 35 Major Leaguers who were cast into free agency by not being tendered contracts. That list included some intriguing names, including Welington Castillo, Rubby De La Rosa, Chris Withrow, Alexi Amarista, Tyson Ross, Seth Maness, Ben Revere and former Giants backup catcher Hector Sanchez.