The Giants have been adding several minor league pitchers to compete for bullpen spots, but on Tuesday added an established one that could become one of the more important members of the 2021 bullpen.
The Giants signed 34-year old Jake McGee, a left-handed reliever to a two-year, $7 million dollar contract. McGee spent 2020 with the Los Angeles Dodgers after getting released by the Rockies in July. He had a 2.66 ERA, and struck out 33 while walking just 3 batters in 20.1 innings. He was used sparingly in the postseason, making three appearances in the NLCS and just one in the World Series despite being healthy.
After a couple of years where the Giants had strong, established left-handed relievers in Will Smith and Tony Watson, the 2021 bullpen had four lefties in the mix but none of whom who have a big reputation. Currently, Caleb Baragar, Jarlin Garcia, Wandy Peralta and Sam Selman competing for the southpaw roles in the bullpen. McGee will be a option for for late inning situations, and has 45 career saves, so he could be in the mix for that role this season.
The deal is the first multi-year deal for a pitcher that the Giants have given since Farhan Zaidi took over as the President of Baseball Operations.
2020 was a career year for McGee, who had struggled in his last two years of his time in Colorado. In 2018, he had a 6.49 ERA in 61 appearances, but he improved to a 4.35 ERA in 2019. He had his best years previously in Tampa Bay, including 2014 when he had a 1.89 ERA and a career high 19 saves.
Regardless of his ERA swings, McGee has always been a pitcher with strong SO/W ratios, with a career 3.96 SO/W ratio. In 2020, it was an unsustainable 11.00 over the shortened season.
McGee’s strategy in 2020 was surprisingly one-note: he threw his fastball 96.4% of the time. In all, he threw just 12 non-fastballs in all of 2020. That stands in sharp contrast to a different Giants signing in the bullpen, right-hander Matt Wisler, who overwhelmingly throws his slider, which in 2020 was 83% of the time.
McGee, a San Jose native, was originally drafted in the 5th round of 2004 by the Tampa Bay Rays. He debuted in 2010, and stayed with the team through 2015, and in early 2016 was traded to Colorado. He stayed with the Rockies after being granted free agency, and was released by the Rockies on July 17, 2020 The Dodgers signed him as a free agent afterwards, but McGee was making $9.5 million for 2020, which of course was pro-rated due to the shortened season. The Rockies also are paying $2 million for the buyout of his contract option in 2021.