Andrew Susac

Did Buster Olney really say Aroldis Chapman was a “realistic option” for the Giants?

Today Buster Olney joined 95.7 The Game’s morning show, and included in his segment was a discussion about possible additions the Giants could make. And no, Olney didn’t mention Everth Cabrera, a troubled shortstop who used to be good back in 2013. The Giants signed Cabrera to a minor league deal today.

Here’s Olney on the Giants:

The good thing for the Giants is they sit here today, they’re not necessarily with a glaring hole because they do know they’ve got Aoki coming back. They do already have Pence back. They’ve got some rotation options.

I do think they probably are going to be watching to see how their bullpen comes together. Because I know from talking with scouts from other teams, they feel like there’s some erosion there. That this group, which has been so unbelievable for them for the last five years is starting to show some signs of wear and tear.

And look, Brian Sabean isn’t going to tell us everything that he’s doing and the reason why he’s doing it. But I know that when he spent some time around the Reds recently, the perception of some of the Reds people was that he was taking a look at Aroldis Chapman and wondering if at some point maybe the Reds are going to put him out on the market.

He would certainly be a great fit for the Giants and where they are right now and what they have needs in. Because as good as the Giants bullpen has been, let’s face it, it’s not a classic 2015 bullpen because they don’t have a lot of swing-and-miss guys. Maybe if the Giants add something, that would be the biggest need.

Olney also mentioned that the Dodgers are “absolutely” going to get a “high-end starter,” and they are “probably the favorites to get (Johnny) Cueto.” Cole Hamels is still an option, as is Scott Kazmir, and David Price is “an interesting guy to watch.” Yeah, the Dodgers are going to add a pretty awesome starter, and it’s going to be scary, but the rest of the National League will probably survive L.A’s financial onslaught like they always do. We’ll see.

So what do we take away from Olney’s comments on the Giants? He’s spot-on when it comes to the starting lineup. With Nori Aoki probably back by the end of July and Hunter Pence doing his thing, the batting order looks pretty decent compared to most teams in our current high-strikeout, low-power era. If the Giants can add a veteran utility infielder or outfielder with a better bat than Ehire Adrianza or Justin Maxwell, they might pull the trigger. But they’re probably standing pat as far as position players are concerned.

Likewise, we can all probably agree that the Giants aren’t going to add a top-o’-the-line starting pitcher unless a great deal falls into their laps (or Matt Cain and Jake Peavy crumble to pieces over their next two starts, and even then it’s probably unlikely). With so many buyers out there — like the spendy Dodgers, who have more brand name prospects than the Giants — the starting pitchers won’t come cheap.

Olney is also correct about the Giants bullpen’s poor strikeout rate. Of the eight relievers with 20 or more appearances, only Sergio Romo (12.5), Santiago Casilla (9.2) and Hunter Strickland (11.3) are striking out more than 6.8 batters per nine innings. The Giants have a very good defensive infield, but it’s best not to leave things to chance when games are tight against good teams — and have you seen their August schedule? Sheesh.

Of Romo’s 36 strikeouts, 34 have come against right-handed hitters — lefties are hitting .424/.513/.576 against him. Opponents are hitting .500/.533/.786 against Casilla in July (five appearances). Strickland is probably going to get some consideration as a closer candidate, but the thought of a non-veteran in that spot — especially one who was absolutely shelled last October — surely sends chills up Sabean’s spine.

Olney’s nugget on Sabean was what I found most interesting. Reading between the lines, it appears he’s still the one pulling the strings … which makes sense. Sabean didn’t accept a fancier title and decide to rack up all those airline miles to cede the big decisions to Bobby Evans. Perhaps Evans handles most of the day-to-day operations stuff at home, while Sabean gets to use his own scouting eye to vouch for (or veto) big moves (like a potential trade for Chapman).

Here’s the problem, though.

Hmm. It’s this tweet that drew me to go to 95.7’s website and listen to the interview in the first place. Except, unless I’m missing something, Olney never uttered the words “realistic option” in regard to anything, including his spiel on the Giants bullpen or Sabean’s probable interest in a dominant lefty reliever with plenty of experience as a closer, who just so happens to regularly throw fastballs in the 102-103 mph range.

So, to answer the question posed in the headline: NO

Aren’t other teams interested in Chapman? And who would the Giants even offer? Devin Mesoraco is hurt, but he’s a catcher who the Reds are on the hook to pay almost $25.5 million over the next three seasons. Plus, the Giants aren’t likely to part with Andrew Susac (for reasons I provided here).

Maybe the Giants would consider dealing Tyler Beede. He was in the Futures game and has shown an ability to handle every level up to and including Double-A, but his strikeout rates have fallen as he’s gotten promoted. (He’s only striking out 5.5 batters per nine innings in Richmond.) Keury Mella is a year younger than Beede, his numbers are comparable and he’s striking out more guys, so he could be an option if the Giants are truly in go-for-it mode this year. Derek Law just came back off of Tommy John, but he seems like a fairly risky acquisition for another team until he remains healthy for at least half a season.

Kyle Crick is WALKING 9.8 guys per nine innings in Richmond, so forget him for now.

As far as non-Susac position players, we’re looking at Christian Arroyo (who I liked in my brief time watching him last Spring) and Mac Williamson (who hasn’t done a whole lot in Triple-A Sacramento, but it’s really not fair to judge since he’s only been there for 10 games).

Then there’s a group of decent pitchers like Ty Blach, Clayton Blackburn and Steven Okert. It’s hard to envision any of them enticing the Reds to give up Chapman. Maybe Josh Osich, a younger and cheaper lefty who throws hard, might interest Cincinnati. He doesn’t throw as hard as Chapman, but he’s a lot cheaper.

Don’t even think about it, Belt-bashers. The Reds are on the hook to pay Joey Votto $199 million AFTER this season.

The more I think about it, the less realistic the Chapman option seems. A more accurate tweet probably would’ve read “remote possibility.”

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