The San Francisco Giants were eliminated from the playoffs for the first time in the Bruce Bochy era and it’s primarily due to an inadequate bullpen and a lack of depth on the roster.
In the previous World Series runs for San Francisco, Bochy was able to mix and match in the bullpen and lineup to exceed almost everyone’s expectations.
After unlikely hero Conor Gillaspie hit a game winning three-run shot in the Wild Card game, and a huge two-run double in the eighth inning of NLDS game three, it seemed like the Giants postseason magic was in effect once again.
However, the postseason magic wasn’t enough to lift up a bullpen which was historically awful all season long.
The bullpen and lack of depth turned the Giants from the best team in baseball during the first half of the season to the second Wild Card team and a first round exit.
If Bochy and the Giants want to turn back into the team we saw in the first half, the roster will need some help. Here are three improvements San Francisco needs to make to come back as one of baseball’s best teams.
1. Add Reliable Arms In The Bullpen.
If the Giants only improve one part of the team in the off-season, it needs to be the bullpen. The arms in the bullpen were historically bad in 2016.
The Giants had 32 blown saves this season. The fact San Francisco even made the playoffs with that amount of blown saves is an incredible feat.
The entire bullpen needs a new look starting with the closer. The team can go after three big name closers who will be on the free agent market this season.
If they are willing to spent a lot of money on a closer, San Francisco can make a push for Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen or Mark Melancon.
After addressing the closer situation, the team will need to improve the depth in the bullpen. Derek Law, Hunter Strickland and Will Smith are all quality arms, but they need to be put in a consistent role.
Not having a quality closer this season caused shuffling throughout the bullpen which can affect a relievers performance. A consistent bullpen also creates a better quality one.
2. Improve Bench Depth.
The Giants were hit with a ton of injuries in 2016. The team was able to stay afloat for a good portion of those injuries, but the bench players were not able to do much with their opportunities.
Players like Ruben Tejada, Grant Green and Ehire Adrianze were shuffled through the lineup after injuries to Joe Panik and Matt Duffy, before he was traded to Tampa Bay.
The Giants bench under performed all season. Gregor Blanco, Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson all hit under .240 and no matter how well Gillaspie played during the postseason, it won’t carry over to the regular season. That’s not the type of player he is.
Acquiring a quality utility infielder and a fourth outfielder to replace Pagan should be at the top of San Francisco’s off-season priority list.
3. Sign A Power Hitting Outfielder.
One of the biggest things missing in the Giants’ lineup is a true power hitter. There isn’t one player in the lineup who is a threat to hit the ball out of the park at any time.
New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is expected to opt out of his contract and become a free agent. If he does, he would be a perfect player for the Giants to go after. He’s a power bat and an MVP candidate every season.
However, that’s a big fish to try and catch. They most likely won’t be able to go after a top closer and outfielder, but there’s no doubt a player like Cespedes would vastly improve the team’s lineup.
If the Giants could find a power bat to play the outfield, either through free agency or a trade, it could turn Angel Pagan into the fourth outfielder.
He has trouble staying healthy when he plays everyday, but has always been important to the Giants’ success. A move to bring in a power hitting outfielder to start in left will not only help the lineup, but also improve the bench depth.