Tony Watson

Giants reliever Tony Watson exercises player option for 2020 season


Giants reliever Tony Watson exercises player option for 2020 season

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants have to rebuild just about their entire bullpen, but they’ll at least have one veteran left-hander back.

Tony Watson exercised the player option on the third year of an incentive-filled deal he signed in 2018. Watson will make about $7 million in 2020 and should again serve a key role at the back end of the bullpen.

Watson had a 4.17 ERA in 60 appearances before a wrist fracture ended his season in early September. He had a strong first half but was hit hard in a dozen August appearances, skewing his numbers for the year.

Watson has been a reliable reliever for most of his two years in San Francisco. He had a 2.59 ERA in 2018 in a setup role.

Watson should again pitch in the eighth for the Giants, and there’s a chance he enters 2020 with a shot to close some games. Will Smith, the other lefty at the back end of the bullpen, is now a free agent.

[RELATED: What to expect from Giants in first week of offseason]

The Giants also announced Saturday that Fernando Abad’s club option was declined and Kyle Barraclough cleared waivers. Both are now free agents.

What to watch for from Giants over first week of 2019 MLB offseason


What to watch for from Giants over first week of 2019 MLB offseason

SAN FRANCISCO -- The most exciting month of free agency ahead of the 2019 Giants season was actually one that's not really supposed to be part of the offseason. 

In early February, Giants officials flew to Las Vegas to meet with Bryce Harper, kicking off a dramatic chase that ended February 28 when Harper signed with the Phillies, when the Giants were well into their workouts and Cactus League games. 

There's a chance that there's similar action -- with fellow Scott Boras client Gerrit Cole, maybe? -- late this offseason, but some of the biggest decisions will come early. Madison Bumgarner is about to hit the open market, and any decision he makes will have a huge impact on the Giants one way or the other. 

That decision could drag out, but here's what you need to know in the opening days of the offseason:

Bumgarner and Smith

The Giants have until Nov. 4 to place the $17.8 million qualifying offer on their free agents, and both Bumgarner and closer Will Smith are candidates. If they then go elsewhere, the Giants would recoup a draft pick. 

It's a lock that Bumgarner will get an offer, and while that hurt Dallas Keuchel's market last offseason, Bumgarner has never been all that worried. He's confident he'll find the right situation, and he's not at all the type to sit out half a season. If the QO does eliminate some suitors, though, that would help the Giants' chances of a reunion. 

Smith is fascinating and could be a surprise recipient of an offer. The Giants have been considering it, knowing that they don't have another steady option for the ninth inning and that top-of-market closers generally make about $15 million a year anyway. Smith, coming off an All-Star season, wouldn't be a bargain, but he wouldn't weigh down the payroll, either, and he once again could be used as a trade chip in July. 

Smith would have a tough decision to make if the Giants tag him. He's 30 and ready to cash in, but $17.8 million is a lot to turn down given where the market has been recently. 

Tony Watson

The left-hander signed an incentive-filled deal during spring training in 2018 and has a player option that will be worth roughly $7 million. With some second-half struggles that brought his numbers down, Watson may decide that free agency won't be any more fruitful. At the end of the season, the sense around the team was the 34-year-old would pick up his option, but Watson has until Nov. 4 to make a decision. 

The Others

Pablo Sandoval is about to get one last nice payday. He's due a $5 million buyout on his $17 million club option, which the Red Sox will pay. What a steal that ended up being for the Giants. 

Stephen Vogt is also about to hit free agency and he should find plenty of suitors after a strong season as Buster Posey's backup. Vogt recently said on MLB Network Radio that he wants to win a World Series, which makes the Giants an unlikely fit. Joey Bart is getting close, anyway.

[RELATED: Muelens reportedly close to leaving Giants]

Roster Moves

The Giants currently have 46 players on their 40-man roster and the guys who were put on the 60-day IL have to be added back, causing a bit of a crunch. The free agents should clear most of the spots, but expect another steady stream of moves -- like the Tyler Anderson claim on Wednesday -- as the Giants scoop up guys who were let go elsewhere. 

How Farhan Zaidi views Madison Bumgarner, Giants in MLB free agency

How Farhan Zaidi views Madison Bumgarner, Giants in MLB free agency

SAN FRANCISCO -- Farhan Zaidi spent 32 minutes Tuesday talking about his first season as the Giants' president of baseball operations and his plans for his first full offseason. Many of the questions focused on three topics: The ballpark, the search for a new manager, and the need to hire a general manager. 

All three of those issues might be resolved before the Giants get to the one that may be most important to the fan base: What's going to happen with Madison Bumgarner?

Zaidi expects another long offseason for marquee free agents, and that could include Bumgarner, who is a month from hitting the open market for the first time. The left-hander is excited about seeing what's out there, but if you're waiting for the Giants to publicly court him, you'll be waiting a long time. 

Zaidi, as a rule, does not talk about his interest in free agents. Asked about his own players Tuesday, he gave a general answer. 

"We have a certain level of interest in bringing all those guys back," Zaidi said. "We anticipate those guys will want to see what's out there in free agency. Some of them publicly commented on it, which is their right, and it's exactly what we'd expect them to do."

In addition to Bumgarner, closer Will Smith and catcher Stephen Vogt are scheduled to be free agents. Left-handed reliever Tony Watson can opt out of the third year of his deal, although he's believed to be strongly considering a return. With incentives, he could make $7 million next season. 

Bumgarner and Smith will be due much more than that, though both could be hampered by qualifying offers. It is a lock that one will be placed on Bumgarner, and the Giants are strongly considering giving one to Smith. They would either recoup a draft pick or get an All-Star closer on a one-year deal worth a bit more than $18 million. 

"I will say kind of at the outset of free agency, we have interest in at least having discussions about those guys coming back," Zaidi said of his free agents. 

Asked about Bumgarner, Zaidi noted the "tremendous track record" and the reliability that "every team in baseball could use." It's unclear what the market will look like, but the 30-year-old Bumgarner has always been confident that it will be there and be healthy. At the very least, the Atlanta Braves, the closest franchise to Bumgarner's North Carolina home, figure to give the Giants a run for their money.

[RELATED: What main trait Zaidi is looking for in next Giants manager] 

With Bumgarner a free agent, the Giants will enter the offseason with Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto atop their rotation and Logan Webb, Tyler Beede, Shaun Anderson and Dereck Rodriguez (who will play Winter Ball) filling things out. No matter what happens with Bumgarner, it's clear some veteran help will be brought in. 

"It's going to be a necessity for us and it's a priority for us to continue developing our young pitchers," Zaidi said. "But certainly, having veteran pitchers around them is valuable from a competitiveness standpoint and also valuable from a developmental standpoint."