On today’s Locked On Giants Podcast, host Ben Kaspick answers questions from fans on Twitter. Among the questions answered, Ben talks about when the Giants may (or may not) call up top prospect Joey Bart. The team must wait until July 29 if they want to ensure that Bart won’t gain a full year of service time in 2020, which could allow him to reach free agency after the 2025 season as opposed to the 2026 season. However, even if the Giants call up Bart on July 29 or later, if the 2020 season ends up getting cancelled afterwards, it is possible that Bart would be granted a year of service time anyway.
Another question asked and answered is about Jeff Samardzija. While his ERA was good in 2019, his peripheral numbers suggest that massive regression could be coming, and this could be an issue as “The Shark” hopes to work as a traditional starter who pitches deep into games. This could cause conflict with new manager Gabe Kapler, who probably won’t let a struggling starter eat innings that could be more effectively managed with relief pitcher alternatives. Kapler has expressed a willingness to respect his players’ wishes, while balancing an analytical approach. It will be fascinating to watch how it plays out in Samardzija’s case.
Ben also answers a question about what the Giants are likely to do at this year’s trading deadline, which is August 31. Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi was extremely active at last year’s deadline, and fans should expect the same in 2020, assuming the season is still being played. The Giants could have desirable trade pieces in Kevin Gausman and Drew Smyly, in addition to under-the-radar, controllable bullpen arms like Trevor Gott and Tyler Rogers. As Ben explains, bullpen pieces on a retooling team are non-essential, and if those players can be flipped for starting caliber position players or starting pitchers, that may benefit the Giants in the long run. In essence, bullpen arms can help contending teams win in the postseason, but they don’t necessarily lead teams to the postseason.
Also discussed is the bullpen hierarchy. Although many annointed Tony Watson the heir apparent to Will Smith when he departed in free agency, the Giants may have more talented relievers in Trevor Gott and Tyler Rogers. Rogers’s 2019 season was spectacular, and he was looking sharp again in spring training and summer camp. He “opened” a game against the Oakland A’s on Tuesday, and it’s possible he could do the same on occasion during the regular season. The Giants are likely to go with a bullpen by committee approach at least to start the year, as they don’t necessarily have a bunch of established guys in the ‘pen. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t match up and make things difficult on their opponents.