In a move sure to stir up San Francisco Giants fans eager for some hot stove news, the defending champs have signed reliever Juan Gutierrez. That’s according to this “Minor League Transactions: Dec. 13-23” report from Baseball America’s Matt Eddy.
San Francisco Giants
Signed: RHP Wilme Almanzar, RHP Juan Gutierrez (re-signed), RHP Yoel Veras, LHP Luis Amaya
Traded: RHP Luis Castillo and RHP Kendry Flores to Marlins for 3B Casey McGehee
Removed from 40-man: 1B Angel Villalona (outrighted to Triple-A)
The re-signing of Gutierrez has everything Giants fans are looking for. There’s right-handed relief depth (hooray), a perfect example of a league average player (woo-hoo), and a discount for the budget-constrained MLB team (sweeeeeet).
Yeah, Gutierrez was projected to earn $1.7 million in arbitration, more than a bit too much for a guy who was deemed unworthy of a postseason roster spot after finishing the year with a 3.96 ERA (5.40 in the second half). But he has 264 games of big league experience, which the Giants like, and he fills the team’s quota of portly pitchers at the back of their bullpen.
That is, if he makes the team. George Kontos is out of options, Jean Machi was better throughout last year (despite getting worse as the season wore on, after an amazing start that included several wins), and Hunter Strickland is a bit of a wild card.
Strickland wasn’t even expected to contribute after coming off Tommy John surgery last year, and he was so dominant in September that Bruce Bochy had extremely high hopes for October. We all know what happened then, as Strickland gave up several home runs — including Bryce Harper’s in Game 4 of the NLDS, which landed somewhere between Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek.
Anything’s possible, really. Strickland could spend the year in the minors after an awful Spring Training. He could become the closer at some point, if his gopher ball tendencies vanish and Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo are either injured or inconsistent. Or, he could be part of a trade to a team looking for prospects. Like the Tampa Bay Rays, for instance. Hey, just throwing it out there.
One final note … the Giants dumped Angel Villalona from the 40-man roster. It was five years ago when Villalona was a murder suspect in the Dominican Republic. Now 23, and coming off two nearly identical seasons in the minors (.231/.276/.425 in 2013, .230/.289/.382 in 2014, mostly in Double-A Richmond), he’s no longer a top prospect.
The power is still enticing, and he should be able to put up some interesting numbers in Sacramento. But after quite some time when the Giants would move guys on and off the 40-man, and fans would ask why a spot continued to be saved for Villalona, the Giants have finally given a signal that he’s no longer in their long-term plans.