SAN FRANCISCO -- After a crushing loss in the NLDS three years ago, the Giants had a choice to make. They ultimately went out and spent $62 million on a closer, but back then, there were factions of the organization that preferred for the solution to come internally, with Derek Law one of a few potential options for the ninth inning.
Law was coming off a strong rookie season and was a big part of the future at Oracle Park. Two years later, he found himself sitting at home as the rest of his teammates gathered for FanFest, where he’s usually one of the more entertaining players on the stage. Law was designated for assignment to clear a roster spot for John Andreoli, who later would also be DFA’d.
“I kind of knew nobody was going to pick me up, because if guys aren’t signing all the free agents that are really darn good, then they’re not going to take a chance on me,” he said. “It’s kind of a kick in the nuts, because 29 other teams didn’t take you.”
The roster churn has become a part of daily life in the Giants clubhouse, but that doesn’t make it any easier to take when your name gets called. Law was caught off guard a bit. He didn’t get DFA’d until Feb. 1, and by that time he already had his spring training flights booked.
After he was done throwing one morning in Pittsburgh, Law saw that he had a missed call from a San Francisco area code. Assistant general manager Jeremy Shelley gave him the bad news.
“When it finally happens,” Law said, “You’re in a weird sort of limbo.”
The waiver process is a quiet one if you go unclaimed. Law didn’t hear anything about his future until the sixth day of the seven-day period. A day later, the Giants announced he was outrighted to Triple-A and would be in big league camp, this time as a non-roster player. Ironically, Andreoli went through the exact same transaction.
The timing was poor in a number of ways, including the fact that Law preparing for what he felt could be a huge camp. He says this is the best he has felt physically since coming back from Tommy John rehab. After two down years, Law started throwing earlier in the offseason, and he was taking part in live BP sessions before the rest of the Giants got to Scottsdale.
Law’s peripheral numbers were better in the second half of the 2018 minor league season after he altered his pitch mix. He even found himself excited by the addition of Farhan Zaidi. Offseason workout partner Adam Liberatore pitched under Zaidi with the Dodgers and told Law that Zaidi would find ways to play to his strengths.
Then came the bad news, but perhaps Law can find hope in something Zaidi has said repeatedly. The new president of baseball operations believes strongly in looking at a player’s track record from a few years back, and Law, still just 28, isn’t too far removed from posting a 2.13 ERA in 61 appearances as a rookie.
That’s the type of performance the Giants have not forgotten.
“This is going to be big for him, how he bounces back,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s always a tough deal coming off a roster. You can handle it one of two ways: You get down on yourself, or show that you deserve to be back on the roster and be up here. I think he’s got a great attitude.”
That showed the day Law walked into camp, a smile on his face as he hugged teammates. The roster move was bad timing, but Law said he won’t allow it to change the way he approaches the season. This is an organization that has sped up the pace of transactions, but that also means you can quickly be back on the positive end when you pitch well.
“The silver lining is I’m here,” he said, “And we’ll see what happens at the end of the spring.”