The San Francisco Giants have claimed right-handed starter Rico Garcia off of waivers from the Colorado Rockies, using him to fill their remaining 40-man roster spot.
Garcia, 25, made his big league debut last season and was the Rockies’ No. 20 prospect.
The Giants are still looking for a manager and general manager, but that hasn’t stopped president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi from continuing his roster tinkering to make incremental improvements, announcing another series of moves after Garcia’s addition became official.
San Francisco also announced that they claimed righty Trevor Oaks off waivers from Kansas City and infielder Kean Wong off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
In acquiring Garcia, the Giants add an intriguing 30th-round pick from the 2016 draft who rocketed through the Colorado system, dominating the Double-A Eastern League in 13 starts last season (8-2, 1.85 ERA, 87 Ks in 68 IP) before getting the PCL treatment in Triple-A, going 2-4 with a 6.90 ERA.
Pitching in Colorado also didn’t do Garcia many favors, as he went 0-1 in two appearances, allowing seven earned runs in six innings.
Oaks, a seventh-round pick in 2014 by the Dodgers, made his big league debut this year and went 0-2 with a 7.24 ERA in four games (two starts), but in five minor league seasons, has gone 39-21 with a 3.26 ERA, including a 3.23 ERA as a 22-game starter in the ruinous PCL in 2018. He missed most of 2019 due to hip surgery.
Wong, a third-round pick of the Rays in 2013, had just 18 big league plate appearances last year, mustering just three hits. In seven minor league seasons, he’s slashed .287/.342/.383 and can play second, third, shortstop and all three outfield spots, making him a value add for the organization.
Adding young arms and a versatile glove with options left is very much a Zaidi move, and the kind that gave him roster flexibility during his first year in San Francisco.
San Francisco had room on the 40-man roster to add Garcia and injured starter Tyler Anderson (owner of 397 big league innings, claimed off waivers from the Rockies on Oct. 30) because Madison Bumgarner, Will Smith, Stephen Vogt and Pablo Sandoval entered free agency, and Kyle Barraclough was designated for assignment and outrighted to the minors.
Lefty reliever Tony Watson exercised his player option, and since the 60-day injured list disappears until the start of next spring, he was reinstated, along with Steven Duggar (shoulder) and relievers Trevor Gott (elbow) and Reyes Moronta (shoulder). The Giants also reinstated infielder Zach Green and Cristhian Adames, outrighting both of them to Triple-A and signing them both to minor league deals for 2020. They’ll both likely get non-roster invititations to spring training.
With Donovan Solano arguably the best backup middle infielder in baseball, Adames could find his way to the Majors as the backup for Evan Longoria, given the departure of Sandoval. The switch-hitting Adames went 7-for-22 (.318) in his September call-up
As far as the free agents, Bumgarner and Will Smith were tendered qualifying offers (each worth $17.8 million), and they have 10 days from Monday to accept. While Bumgarner is likely to test free agency, Smith has a more difficult decision at hand. Reliever Craig Kimbrel hit the market last offseason and looked to land a big contract, but because he was tendered a qualifying offer, the Chicago Cubs didn’t pick him up until after the draft, lest they risk losing a compensatory pick. The same went for starter Dallas Keuchel, who eventually signed with the Braves.
If both lefties leave, San Francisco would get two picks after the second round of June’s draft. The qualifying offers are rare for the Giants. They’ve only made three since they entered the collective bargaining agreement in 2012. The other went to Sandoval in 2014, and when he left for the Red Sox, the Giants used that pick to select Chris Shaw.
The one-year deal wouldn’t make sense for Bumgarner (he’ll likely command a multi-year contract), but relievers rarely make $17.8 million in a year, something Zaidi is banking on. He understands that’s a premium price to pay for a relief pitcher, but it’s about what the elite ones earn annually. Smith is just the fifth reliever to receive a qualifying offer.
With other teams skittish maybe to lose a draft pick, that could mean San Francisco could negotiate long-term extensions for both pitchers.