Six free agents who could fill big hole in Giants' bullpen


The Giants have a big hole when it comes to right-handed relievers. Alex Pavlovic has the answers.

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There's a whole regime full of current and former Giants employees who must regularly ask themselves a painful question: "What if the Mark Melancon contract had worked out differently?"

Ironically, the team's new executives might have been wondering the same thing as they watched the Braves reach the NLCS.

Melancon looked like his old self in the fourth and final year of a massive deal signed after the Giants collapsed in the 2016 postseason, saving 11 games with a 2.78 ERA in the regular season and allowing just two hits and no earned runs in seven playoff appearances. His cutter was up to 93-94 mph and his curve was a weapon. He was, in many ways, exactly what the 2020 Giants needed.

There's no reason to regret that 2019 trade. The Giants saved nearly $20 million and got a good pitching prospect -- Tristan Beck -- back in return. But a year later, they found themselves making a surprise run, one that ultimately was derailed in large part by a lack of dependable right-handed pitching at the back end of their bullpen. 

They won't go the Melancon route again this offseason, but Farhan Zaidi has said he wants to add to the bullpen.

"We'll look to maybe add a veteran to that mix and create some leadership for that group down there even though I think they've come together really well," Zaidi said after the season.

Here are six right-handed free agents who could be a fit for that role.


Treinen had one of the best relief seasons in MLB history in 2018 with the A's, then fell apart a year later. The Dodgers smartly signed him to a one-year, $10 million deal last December and Treinen had a 3.86 ERA and 3.15 FIP, showing much of his old nasty stuff. He even got a save in Game 5 of the World Series. 

Treinen, 32, has 72 big league saves and could slide seamlessly into that role, but he figures to be pretty popular among teams looking for late-innings help. 


The Giants won't spend big on a current closer, but this front office likes looking two or three years back, and the 31-year-old had 55 saves for the Tigers in 2018-19. He primarily pitched in the seventh and eighth for the Braves, posting a 2.60 ERA and 3.81 FIP in 28 appearances. Greene isn't a hard thrower and his strikeout rate -- always about one per inning -- dropped to 6.8 this past season, but he's one of the few with recent closing experience on the open market. 


The Giants can sell May, a longtime Minnesota Twin, on pitching with the second Rogers twin. May has a 3.19 ERA over the past three seasons, and his stuff ticked up in 2020. His fastball averaged 96.3 mph, hit 99, and was in the 76th percentile in spin rate. May struck out 39.6 percent of the batters he faced, and that was no fluke. He has averaged more than 11 K/9 in each of the last three seasons.

The 31-year-old doesn't have much ninth-inning experience, but he would give Gabe Kapler another good option late, along with Tyler Rogers and Reyes Moronta. 


The 38-year-old has played for seven different organizations over 13 years, and all he has done over that time is record outs. O'Day has a 2.51 ERA in his career and allowed just two earned in 19 appearances for the Braves this year. His fastball averaged just 86 mph this year, but opponents hit .087 off it, and his slider, which he used 42 percent of the time, was also hard to hit.

It's not a repertoire that stands out, but O'Day has averaged double-digit K/9 in each of the last six seasons and struck out 22 of the 67 batters he faced in 2020, walking just five and allowing one homer. He would be a stabilizer among hard-throwing youngsters, and along with Rogers, he would give the Giants two of the NL's funkier looks.


It's amazing that Clippard hasn't been a Giant yet. They would be the 11th big league franchise for the 35-year-old, who doesn't figure to cost much.

Clippard signed a $2.75 million deal with the Twins last offseason and basically repeated a strong 2019, with a 2.77 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and ERA+ of 159. Clippard barely hits 90 anymore and, but you have to go back to 2015 to find the last time he averaged less than a strikeout per inning. He would add a different look -- he throws his changeup one-third of the time -- and a lot of experience to a young, hard-throwing Giants group.


Look, the Giants could go out there and chase a Liam Hendriks or Trevor Rosenthal to solve their ninth-inning woes, but that's not at all the Zaidi or Scott Harris way. They prefer to be the ones doing the rehabilitating, and there isn't a veteran reliever out there who better fits that mold than Davis. At his peak in Kansas City, he was possibly the most dominant reliever in the game.

Three years at Coors Field ruined Davis, and he was released late in the year after just five appearances and a shoulder strain. But throw out the 2020 season and look back a year, when Davis had poor results but averaged 93 mph with his fastball and 89 mph with his cutter, and ranked in the 96th percentile in fastball spin rate.

Davis had serious command issues the past two seasons, but if a team can iron those out, they could end up with the 2021 version of Rosenthal.

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