Giants

Giants sign Pat Venditte, switch-pitching reliever, to one-year contract

Giants sign Pat Venditte, switch-pitching reliever, to one-year contract

SAN FRANCISCO -- The first free agent addition of the Farhan Zaidi Era is a unique one. 

Switch-pitcher Pat Venditte agreed to a one-year deal with the Giants on Friday morning, giving the Giants the only ambidextrous pitcher in the big leagues and an intriguing option for their bullpen.

Venditte got a big league deal and will be on the 40-man roster. He will make $585,000 if he's in the big leagues, a source told NBC Sports Bay Area. 

The 33-year-old broke into the big leagues with the A's in 2015. After stints with the Blue Jays and Mariners, Venditte spent the 2018 season with the Dodgers, where Zaidi was the general manager. He was called up a team-high eight times and had a 2.57 ERA in 15 appearances. 

Venditte is a natural right-hander who was taught to throw lefty by his father. He wears a custom-made glove with six finger holes, and by MLB rule, he must declare which hand he'll use before a matchup. 

Manager Bruce Bochy has always used his relievers to get minor platoon advantages, and Venditte gives him a fascinating weapon. He almost always throws with the arm that gives him a platoon advantage. Venditte has had more success as a left-hander, holding lefties to a .186 average. He has faced 143 batters as a right-handed pitcher and 135 as a lefty. 

[RELATED: Everything you need to know about Venditte]

The Giants now have 38 players on their 40-man roster. Venditte joins Rule 5 picks Travis Bergen and Drew Ferguson, and waiver claim Mike Gerber, as offseason additions. At a time when the Giants are actively trying to trade their veteran relievers, it's noteworthy that Zaidi has added two left-handed relievers to the bullpen over the past eight days. 

Why Giants need to upgrade shortstop in 2020, according to MLB.com

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Why Giants need to upgrade shortstop in 2020, according to MLB.com

Shortstop Brandon Crawford and second baseman Joe Panik formed a Giants double-play duo up the middle for nearly six seasons.

One half of the pair already is gone after San Francisco released Panik in August, and he joined the Mets shortly after. Could Crawford be on his way out, too? 

MLB.com's Will Leitch identified the problem areas for each team going into next season, and his position for the Giants comes as a bit of surprise. 

"Brandon Crawford is under contract for next year, but the Giants need to build from the inside out, and shortstop is a position they’re starting from too far behind on," Leitch wrote. 

Crawford, who turns 33 years old in January, has one season remaining on his six-year, $75 million contract and is coming off the worst season of his nine-year career. The two-time All-Star hit just .228 with 11 home runs and a .654 OPS. 

His 0.6 bWAR was the lowest of his career since 2011, the season in which he debuted with the Giants. To make matters worse, the three-time Gold Glove winner had an oddly down year defensively. 

For the first time in his career, Crawford wasn't worth a positive defensive run saved, according to FanGraphs. He finished at exactly zero, down from six in 2018. Crawford's .972 fielding percentage also was his lowest since 2015. 

But if the Giants do try to dangle Crawford on the trade market this offseason, they could have a solid replacement in Mauricio Dubon

The 25-year-old Dubon might be better pegged as a second baseman, though he has shown the ability to play shortstop just fine. Dubon, acquired from the Brewers at the MLB trade deadline, hit .279 with four homers, three stolen bases and a .754 OPS in 28 games for the Giants. 

[RELATED: Giants excited about future with infusion of young talent]

Dubon played second base in 22 games compared to 10 as a shortstop when he joined the Giants, but has played 475 games at shortstop to 113 as a second baseman in the minors. He is an in-house option right away if Crawford winds up on a new team. The free-agent market is thin this offseason at shortstop outside of Didi Gregorious, too. 

If Crawford does remain the Giants' shortstop, they certainly need him to have a bounce-back season next year. 

Why Giants outfielder Kevin Pillar could be a non-tender candidate

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Why Giants outfielder Kevin Pillar could be a non-tender candidate

The Giants are facing a series of difficult decisions this offseason. They must search for a new manager and general manager, and they also must decide whether to re-sign longtime ace Madison Bumgarner.

There also are a handful of players who are eligible for salary arbitration with San Francisco, including early season acquisition Kevin Pillar. The outfielder started 150 games for the Giants after being traded from the Toronto Blue Jays in April.

MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand recently included Pillar on a list of 12 MLB players who might not be tendered a contract offer before the Dec. 2 deadline.

Here is why:

Traded from the Blue Jays to the Giants one week into the season, the 30-year-old Pillar posted a 93 OPS+ -- his highest mark since 2015 -- with an underwhelming .293 on-base percentage. While Pillar remains a good outfielder, he’s no longer the elite defender he was earlier in his career. Pillar earned $5.8 million in '19, but heading into his third and final year of arbitration-eligibility, it remains to be seen whether the Giants will find his potential price tag too high for their liking. 

Pillar’s veteran presence was valuable for the Giants during a season when a litany of prospects came up to make significant contributions in the majors.

Despite the many defensive web gems Pillar has produced throughout his time in MLB, he never has won a Gold Glove, and he was just a hair above the league-average fielding percentage for a center fielder in 2019 (.986, league average .984).

Farhan Zaidi and the Giants' front office -- which has been increasingly reliant on advanced metrics compared other regimes -- has a difficult decision to make on Pillar.

Zaidi did mention during his end-of-season press conference that the team will be looking for players who can hit well at Oracle Park -- something the team struggled mightily with last season. Out of the 63 home runs hit by the Giants in their home ballpark in 2019, Pillar had 11 of them.

[RELATED: Giants prospect Ramos close to making good on lofty goal]

Will comfort at home be enough to justify an increased salary?

We likely won’t know until closer to that Dec. 2 deadline.