According to Hank Schulman, Aubrey Huff has been placed on the 15-day DL with anxiety disorder, for which he is currently getting treatment. He’s already missed the past few games, and it’s looking like this will open the door for both Nate Schierholtz and Brandon Belt to be in the starting lineup on a regular basis. As for Huff, this kind of problem is no fun, and one can only hope he works through this issue.
In a corresponding move, the Giants called up infielder Joaquin Arias. Arias was a premier prospect many moons ago, but more recently, he posted a .625 OPS in 69 games with Triple-A Omaha. He put up some decent numbers in Spring Training and also managed to get off to a hot start (.400/.432/.557) in Fresno, but realistically speaking, he’s probably not going to do much. In any event, he’s penciled in to start at shortstop for the Giants tomorrow.
Brian Wilson has officially been “out for the season” since Sunday, but today it was reported that he will undergo Tommy John surgery on Thursday.
Wilson hasn’t been the same pitcher since the 2010 postseason, during which time he’s posted pedestrian numbers (109 ERA+ and 1.70 K/BB in 57 innings — most of that work coming in 2011). While the loss of Wilson is certainly a blow to the team, they have the bullpen depth to handle it — and Wilson, assuming he would have posted something similar to his 2011 numbers, is pretty replaceable. As of now, the team is employing the closer-by-committee approach, but I’d expect Santiago Casilla carries the bulk of the load when it comes to closing. Ideally, this would mean an expanded role for Sergio Romo as well, which would go a long way toward making up for the loss of Wilson.
Anyway, Brian Wilson had a 3.33 FIP last season. Santiago Casilla, his likely replacement, had a 3.10 FIP last season. In the month or so during which Wilson didn’t pitch last year (mid-August to mid-September), the Giants blew one save. And that blown save was 1) Guillermo Mota‘s doing, and 2) only because of a weird quirk in the save rule. Satchel Price wrote up a piece over at Beyond the Box Score last year on how the Giants would do just fine without Wilson (and they did do just fine), and it applies for 2012 as well. I’m not too concerned.
None of this, of course, is meant to disparage Wilson. His 2010 season was fantastic, and even more impressive was the postseason that followed (11.2 innings, zero earned runs). He is, and will forever be a huge part of the reason the Giants were able to take home the Commissioner’s Trophy in 2010. But the post-2010 version of Wilson has been a much less dominant (yet still effective) pitcher, and given the strength of their bullpen, the Giants are still in pretty good shape without him.
The most interesting issue that arises from this is what the future now holds for Wilson and the Giants. He’s arbitration-eligible for one last time next season, and if the Giants choose to tender him a contract, at minimum they’ll be offering around $6.5M. Is he worth that kind of money? Heath Hembree should be ready to seize the closer role by that point, and furthermore, Wilson would be coming off his second Tommy John surgery. It seems like an easy no. And while trading him at the end of this season might have made sense before he blew out his elbow, it seems silly to do that now that his trade value is at a dead-low (though there’s no harm in gauging interest).
I think I’m with Lefty Malo here in that the best option is probably to non-tender Wilson and subsequently negotiate a low-base highly-incentivized contract. The upside’s still there for Wilson, but it wouldn’t be worth the risk of tendering him a contract.
Earlier today, the Giants announced that they have agreed to a five-year contract extension with Madison Bumgarner. He’ll be under contract with San Francisco through 2017, and the team also has options for 2018 and 2019 (2018′s a club/vesting option, and 2019 is just a club option). He’s guaranteed $35M, though in the unlikely event that he reaches Super Two status, he’ll make $40M. Buster Olney broke down some of the other contract details.
Bumgarner would have been eligible for free agency in 2017, meaning the Giants essentially get three more years of Bumgarner than they otherwise would have had (two of them, of course, on options). That’s where the real potential reward for the contract lies: those post-arb-eligible years. If Bumgarner continues on this excellent career trajectory, the Giants save some money, but not a significant amount — at least not considering the risk they’re taking (again, these are years over which they already had team control).
The incentive here comes in 2017, 2018, and 2019. If Bumgarner keeps doing his thing and hits the open market in 2017, he’s in store for a lot of money. The cost of retaining him (as we saw with Matt Cain) could be sky-high at that point. But the Giants have him locked up for that year at roughly $12M, which — down the road — is potentially a steal. And the club options, 2018 and 2019, could be even more rewarding — they give the Giants the option to hold onto Bumgarner for another couple years without the risk that comes with guaranteed contract years.
Madison Bumgarner is four months away from turning 23, and he’s already achieved quite a lot. Specifically, this: 337 innings, 119 ERA+, 3.7 K/BB. Based on what he’s accomplished thus far, there’s plenty of reason to believe that he can be among the premier pitchers in baseball over the next decade. There’s considerable risk, as with any long-term extension to a young pitcher, but the potential reward — having him under contract at a reasonable cost until he’s approaching his 30s — seems to outweigh that cost.
I liked the Cain extension a lot. But I love this deal. This is an excellent, forward-thinking move by the Giants’ front office, and I couldn’t be more excited about the prospect of watching Bumgarner pitch in a Giants uni’ for the better part of the next decade.