The Giants spent the offseason improving the infield and outfield on both sides of the ball but had done very little to upgrade the bullpen. Until Friday, that is.
The Giants agreed to a multi-year deal with lefty Tony Watson, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman and Robert S. Murray. Contract figures are still unknown but word is the Giants were able to structure the deal so as to stay under the luxury tax threshold, calculated at $197 million for 2018. Cot’s Contracts had the Giants projected payroll as just over $2 million below the threshold prior to the deal, so any acquisition was going to require bulldozing past the de facto salary cap or some deft sleight of hand to stay under it.
Watson spent 2017 with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Los Angeles Dodgers, the latter acquiring him at the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31. Watson’s 2017 wasn’t quite as good as his previous six years in Pittsburgh, thanks in large part to a spike in the number of hits he allowed but his 3.38 earned run average in 66-2/3 innings was still serviceable, though San Francisco will be looking for something closer to his 2.68 career mark —or the 1.91 he posted in 2015.
Watson’s deal puts Steven Okert and Josh Osich on the hot seat. Only one would be likely to make it out of Spring Training as the second southpaw on the major-league roster and would still be a likely candidate for demotion once Will Smith finishes rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.
When he’s right, Watson throws a sinker in the mid to low-90s and a changeup and slider in the mid-80s and has the ability to keep hitter on both sides of the plate at bay, proven by his career 1.086 WHIP.
He spent most of 2014, 2015 and 2016 setting up for current Giants closer Mark Melancon, and that’s likely to be the case once again in 2018.