Brian Wilson to Undergo Tommy John Surgery Tomorrow

Brian Wilson has officially been “out for the season” since Sunday, but today it was reported that he will undergo Tommy John surgery on Thursday.

Wilson hasn’t been the same pitcher since the 2010 postseason, during which time he’s posted pedestrian numbers (109 ERA+ and 1.70 K/BB in 57 innings — most of that work coming in 2011). While the loss of Wilson is certainly a blow to the team, they have the bullpen depth to handle it — and Wilson, assuming he would have posted something similar to his 2011 numbers, is pretty replaceable. As of now, the team is employing the closer-by-committee approach, but I’d expect Santiago Casilla carries the bulk of the load when it comes to closing. Ideally, this would mean an expanded role for Sergio Romo as well, which would go a long way toward making up for the loss of Wilson.

Anyway, Brian Wilson had a 3.33 FIP last season. Santiago Casilla, his likely replacement, had a 3.10 FIP last season. In the month or so during which Wilson didn’t pitch last year (mid-August to mid-September), the Giants blew one save. And that blown save was 1) Guillermo Mota‘s doing, and 2) only because of a weird quirk in the save rule. Satchel Price wrote up a piece over at Beyond the Box Score last year on how the Giants would do just fine without Wilson (and they did do just fine), and it applies for 2012 as well. I’m not too concerned.

None of this, of course, is meant to disparage Wilson. His 2010 season was fantastic, and even more impressive was the postseason that followed (11.2 innings, zero earned runs). He is, and will forever be a huge part of the reason the Giants were able to take home the Commissioner’s Trophy in 2010. But the post-2010 version of Wilson has been a much less dominant (yet still effective) pitcher, and given the strength of their bullpen, the Giants are still in pretty good shape without him.

The most interesting issue that arises from this is what the future now holds for Wilson and the Giants. He’s arbitration-eligible for one last time next season, and if the Giants choose to tender him a contract, at minimum they’ll be offering around $6.5M. Is he worth that kind of money? Heath Hembree should be ready to seize the closer role by that point, and furthermore, Wilson would be coming off his second Tommy John surgery. It seems like an easy no.  And while trading him at the end of this season might have made sense before he blew out his elbow, it seems silly to do that now that his trade value is at a dead-low (though there’s no harm in gauging interest).

I think I’m with Lefty Malo here in that the best option is probably to non-tender Wilson and subsequently negotiate a low-base highly-incentivized contract. The upside’s still there for Wilson, but it wouldn’t be worth the risk of tendering him a contract.

Giants, Madison Bumgarner Agree to Five-Year Contract Extension

Earlier today, the Giants announced that they have agreed to a five-year contract extension with Madison Bumgarner. He’ll be under contract with San Francisco through 2017, and the team also has options for 2018 and 2019 (2018’s a club/vesting option, and 2019 is just a club option). He’s guaranteed $35M, though in the unlikely event that he reaches Super Two status, he’ll make $40M. Buster Olney broke down some of the other contract details.

Bumgarner would have been eligible for free agency in 2017, meaning the Giants essentially get three more years of Bumgarner than they otherwise would have had (two of them, of course, on options). That’s where the real potential reward for the contract lies: those post-arb-eligible years. If Bumgarner continues on this excellent career trajectory, the Giants save some money, but not a significant amount — at least not considering the risk they’re taking (again, these are years over which they already had team control).

The incentive here comes in 2017, 2018, and 2019. If Bumgarner keeps doing his thing and hits the open market in 2017, he’s in store for a lot of money. The cost of retaining him (as we saw with Matt Cain) could be sky-high at that point. But the Giants have him locked up for that year at roughly $12M, which — down the road — is potentially a steal. And the club options, 2018 and 2019, could be even more rewarding — they give the Giants the option to hold onto Bumgarner for another couple years without the risk that comes with guaranteed contract years.

Madison Bumgarner is four months away from turning 23, and he’s already achieved quite a lot. Specifically, this: 337 innings, 119 ERA+, 3.7 K/BB. Based on what he’s accomplished thus far, there’s plenty of reason to believe that he can be among the premier pitchers in baseball over the next decade. There’s considerable risk, as with any long-term extension to a young pitcher, but the potential reward — having him under contract at a reasonable cost until he’s approaching his 30s — seems to outweigh that cost.

I liked the Cain extension a lot. But I love this deal. This is an excellent, forward-thinking move by the Giants’ front office, and I couldn’t be more excited about the prospect of watching Bumgarner pitch in a Giants uni’ for the better part of the next decade.

Giants Sign Ramon Ortiz

The Giants signed right-hander Ramon Ortiz to a minor-league contract with an invite to Spring Training. Ortiz will turn 39 in a month. The last time he maintained an ERA+ over 100 in the major leagues was eight years ago. In 1423 career innings, he’s amassed all of 3.1 wins above replacement. The best season of Ramon Ortiz’s career was also the year he led the league in home runs allowed. For pitchers with 1000+ career major-league innings, he’s arguably among the 50 worst of all time. Anyhow, he pitched in Fresno in 2009, and was surprisingly decent (3.05 ERA in 129 innings).

I don’t think he’ll pitch for the Giants this year. If he does, he probably won’t pitch all that much. Probably. This is just another minor-league contract with an invite to Spring Training. Speaking of which, pitchers and catchers report soon!

 

Justin Christian Designated For Assignment

The Giants designated Justin Christian for assignment today to make room on the 40 man roster for Guillermo Mota and Ryan Theriot, per Andrew Baggarly.

I had thought that Christian may have had the inside track to be the team’s 25th man due to the fact that he bats righty, and most of the team’s OFs are either switch hitters or left handed hitters, but this move makes it seem less likely. If he clears waivers he will likely receive an invitation to Spring Training.

Giants Sign Ryan Theriot

According to Jon Heyman, the Giants have signed infielder Ryan Theriot to a one-year contract worth $1.25M, with up to $750K in incentives. With Theriot in the picture, Brett Pill will presumably be starting the year in Triple-A Fresno. Josh mentioned Theriot as a potential platoon shortstop option back in November.

At first glance, Theriot’s a very uninspired signing. He’s coming off a .271/.321/.342 (84 wRC+) season, and he’s never been much of a hitter. His 2011 numbers, in fact, aren’t all that far off from his career numbers (.282/.344/.353, 86 wRC+). His defense is probably passable, but his defensive shortcomings are quite evident as well. As an everyday player, Theriot is mediocre at best; there’s a reason he’s amassed all of 0.6 wins above replacement over the past two seasons.

Theriot has his uses, however. The Giants’ shortstop depth chart currently reads Brandon Crawford and Mike Fontenot, in order. Both Crawford and Fontenot are left-handed hitters, and Emmanuel Burriss (career .636 OPS v. LHPs), isn’t exactly going to be reliable against southpaws. Theriot, as mediocre as he is with the bat, can hold his own against lefties, with a career line of .301/.373/.401, 107 wRC+. Of particular intrigue are his plate discipline splits — 9.9% BB rate, 6.8% K rate. He’ll put the ball in play with exceptional frequency, and he’ll get on base.

Theriot shouldn’t be penned into the lineup on a daily basis, but if utilized correctly (or even semi-correctly), he’ll do enough with the bat and the glove to bring some value to the team. He’s slightly worse than Jeff Keppinger at the plate, half as expensive as Keppinger would have been, and a much better defender. Anyway, solid deal.

Giants Sign Clay Hensley

According to Jerry Crasnick, the Giants signed RP Clay Hensley to a major-league contract (pending a physical). He gets a base salary of $750K, with up to $300K in incentives. This likely pushes Dan Runzler out of the Giants’ bullpen.

Hensley’s coming off a terrible season, having allowed 41 runs in 67.2 innings of work. His ERA (5.19) was poor, as were his peripherals (15.5% K rate, 10.1% BB rate). In spite of this, he was basically replacement level last year, at -0.2 rWAR and -0.1 fWAR.

Anyway, most of those innings came as a starter, and he was certainly better out of the bullpen (3.88 FIP/4.24 xFIP). Additionally, he’s just one year removed from a fantastic season: in 2010, Hensley posted a 2.16 ERA/2.87 FIP/3.34 xFIP across 75 innings of work, good for 1.5 wins above replacement. It looks like somewhat of an outlier, as his strikeout rate shot way up that year (and, of course, subsequently regressed), but I’d assume that’s — in large part — due to the fact that he didn’t make any starts that year. He’s had a solid career as a reliever (sub-3 ERA, in fact), though he’s durable enough to start on occasion.

In the end, this is a cheap solid move that adds depth to both the rotation and bullpen. The Giants’ rotation depth behind Eric Surkamp isn’t very appealing, and if his first taste of the majors was any indicator, Surkamp isn’t ready just yet. This helps.

Giants Sign Pablo Sandoval to Three-Year Deal

Whoa:

#SFGiants agree to terms on 3-year Major League contract with Pablo Sandoval

Don’t know the details, but initial reaction: I like this.

UPDATE: Baggs has the details:

Source tells me Pablo Sandoval’s contract is worth $17.15 guaranteed, plus incentives.

Love this move.

More details:

The Sandoval breakdown: $3.2 million this year, $5.7 million in 2013, $8.25 million in 2014. Takes him through all three arbitration years.

I’ll have more to say on this later…

Nate Schierholtz Avoids Arbitration, Tim Lincecum and the Giants Exchange Figures

Some more arbitration updates…

According to Baggs, the Giants reached agreement with Nate Schierholtz on a one-year deal worth $1.3M and $150K in incentives. Meanwhile, Tim Lincecum and the Giants have filed arbitration figures which, as expected, break the records that were held by Derek Jeter and the Yankees (from back in 2001).