Cory Gearrin

Last season's final game helped Giants reliever reach a goal


Last season's final game helped Giants reliever reach a goal

SCOTTSDALE — The 162nd game of the 2017 season was momentous for a number of reasons. Pablo Sandoval’s walk-off homer kept the Giants from clinching the No. 1 pick in the draft, or, if you’re glass-half-full, kept them from having sole possession of the worst record in the majors. It also all but wrapped up the Panda’s status as an important bench bat in 2018. 

But there was another box checked off that day. In the eighth inning, with the Giants and Padres tied at four, Cory Gearrin entered with one out and Jabari Blash at the plate. On Gearrin’s sixth pitch, Blash flied out to right. 

As Gearrin walked off the mound, the scoreboard behind him went into action. The first number on his ERA changed from a two to a one. That last out dropped Gearrin’s ERA to 1.99 for the season. 

“It’s only a .01 difference between 2.00 and 1.99, but that was something that I wanted to do,” Gearrin said. 

If you’re at all tempted to whine about personal stats taking precedent, understand first that Gearrin didn’t ask to chase 1.99. Gearrin and Hunter Strickland had set a sub-two ERA as a goal late in a season that went off the rails early, but it seemed unlikely as September started. Gearrin was at 2.24 after a September 6 game, but he ran off nine straight scoreless appearances to finish the month. When he struck out two on September 30, Gearrin was at 2.00 exactly. Bruce Bochy approached him after the game and said that if he wanted to take a crack at 1.99, he would use him the next day. 

“You appreciate the work these guys do for you and that (ERA under two) makes for a great year,” Bochy said. “This game is not about the numbers, I get that, but at the end of the year he can look back and he was under two and that’s just not easy to do. He’s done it now, and I wanted him to have that. I wanted him to have that opportunity and he went out and did it.”

Gearrin had posted a 1.80 ERA in 22 appearances for the Braves in 2012 but otherwise his low was 3.77. The final appearance last season was Gearrin’s 68th, easily a career-high. Lost in the 98 losses was a sneaky-good season for the snarling right-hander. Gearrin was seventh among NL relievers in ERA and tied for 18th in appearances. 

Gearrin enters this season with a stranglehold on a relief role. The Giants are counting on him to get them out of jams in the sixth or seventh. On opening day, he’ll start back at 0.00, and now he has a new threshold to chase. 

“To have the opportunity to do something like that, it means a lot to me to say that I did it,” he said. “It helps set a standard going forward for myself and the team, and that’s something that I want to build on.”

Giants sign five to one-year deals


Giants sign five to one-year deals

SAN FRANCISCO — Joe Panik spent the first half of the offseason hearing his name in trade rumors. On Friday, his winter became much more enjoyable. 

Panik was one of five Giants to sign a one-year deal and avoid arbitration, joining relievers Hunter Strickland, Will Smith, Cory Gearrin and Sam Dyson. Financial details were not immediately available for all the players, but Panik got a raise to $3.45 million according to Beyond the Box Score, and Smith got $2.5 million per USA Today. 

Friday’s deadline gave the Giants some clarity as they continue to try and fill roster holes after a 98-loss season. Team officials said trade talks slowed in recent days as teams exchanged figures with their arbitration-eligible players. The Giants found the process to be a bit more complicated than in past years, but they now have five projected members of the Opening Day roster locked up and a better idea of exactly how much room they have under the luxury tax. Per a source, the Giants remain about $15 million under the $197 million tax line as they continue to seek one or two new outfielders. 

Arb-eligible players should tack on about $14 million to Giants payroll


Arb-eligible players should tack on about $14 million to Giants payroll

SAN FRANCISCO — There are years when you look at the Giants’ arbitration list and you can easily point to a few salaries that can be shed. This isn’t one of those years. 

The Giants have six arbitration-eligible players this offseason and the list includes their starting second baseman (Joe Panik) and four pitchers who should make up the chunk of their bullpen (Sam Dyson, Hunter Strickland, Will Smith and Cory Gearrin). The sixth member of the group is Tim Federowicz, and while he would make sense if Nick Hundley doesn’t return, the Giants can probably punt their backup catcher decision down the road a bit. 

Assuming they tender contracts to the first five, the Giants will be on the hook for about another $14 million next year. MLB Trade Rumors puts out arbitration projections each year that have proven to be pretty close to accurate. Here are their numbers for this year’s arbitration eligible Giants: 

Dyson: $4.6 million
Panik $3.5 million
Smith: $2.5 million
Strickland: $1.7 million
Gearrin: $1.6 million
Federowicz: $1.3 million

If you take Federowicz out of the mix, that’s $13.9 million for five members of next year’s team. The Giants already have about $166 million committed for 11 players when you pick up the Madison Bumgarner and Matt Moore options and assume Johnny Cueto and Pablo Sandoval are back, so, basically, you can see why management has talked about adding via trades instead of free agency. 

Pre-arb players like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach, as well as some spread-out contracts, ease the tax burden a bit, but the Giants are still inching up on the Competitive Balance Tax ($197 million in 2018) for the fourth consecutive year. The 50 percent tax rate they paid last season is a big reason why guys like J.D. Martinez were never an option in left field, and why you can probably cross him off your wish list this year, too. During an interview that aired on this week’s Giants Insider Podcast, team president and CEO Larry Baer addressed the CBT concerns. 

“That (tax) is something that’s punitive financially but it’s also punitive from a player acquisition standpoint, because if you’re in the CBT you then have penalties sprinkled through the collective bargaining agreement that affects the draft choice compensation, affects the pool of dollars you can use to sign international players and a couple of other areas,” he said. “It hurts you from a player acquisition and player development standpoint, so you have to be mindful about that, but if there’s an opportunity we’re not going to let the CBT stand in the way.”

Before this season, team officials talked about the desire to dip under the tax for a year — either this offseason or next — and reset those penalties. They obviously never thought the season would go the way it did and they would be sitting here in October with so many holes to fill, but here we are. For more from that interview with Baer, you can download the Giants Insider Podcast here.