Giants sign Casilla to three-year contract


Giants sign Casilla to three-year contract

SAN FRANCISCO – The Giants locked up an underpublicized but important piece in their bullpen, agreeing to a three-year contract with right-hander Santiago Casilla on Monday.

The deal includes a club option for 2016 with vesting language, meaning that the Giants bought out at least two of Casilla’s free-agent years and control a third. Casilla's contract, which is pending a physical, includes $15 million in guaranteed money. The average annual value is just under $5 million a year since the contract's option has a $1 million buyout if it doesn't vest and the club declines to pick it up.

Casilla, 32, has been an effective part of the Giants bullpen ever since the club signed him as a non-roster free agent prior to the 2010 season. A former A’s prospect once known as Jairo Garcia before his birth records were verified, Casilla turned his career around when he came up with a devastating spike curve that he added as a dependable complement to his mid-90s fastball. He has a 2.22 ERA in 174 games as a Giant and has been part of two World Series championship teams.

Casilla was used as the primary closer in the first half of last season, when the Giants were forced to scramble after Brian Wilson underwent reconstructive elbow surgery in April. Casilla kept the situation from imploding while he converted 19 of his first 20 save opportunities before hitting a wall around the All-Star break.

He rallied in September and while he didn’t regain the closer role, he was unscored upon in 10 of 11 postseason appearances. He was the pitcher of record in the Giants’ title-clinching Game 4 victory at Detroit.

Clearly, the Giants view their bullpen as an important asset. Earlier in the offseason, the Giants re-signed left-hander Jeremy Affeldt to a three-year contract. Sergio Romo, who served ably as the Giants’ closer down the stretch, is in just his second year of arbitration.

As for Wilson, he became a free agent Dec. 1 when the Giants declined to tender him a contract. The Giants remain interested in bringing back Wilson on a lower guaranteed salary than the minimum $6.8 million he would’ve received in arbitration. But he continues to play the field.

Giants catching prospect Garcia relishing reps in Arizona Fall League


Giants catching prospect Garcia relishing reps in Arizona Fall League

After being selected in the second round of the 2014 MLB Draft by the San Francisco Giants, catcher Aramis Garcia quickly opened eyes with his power. Garcia totaled 15 home runs between Rookie Ball and Short Season Single-A in only 28 games after the draft. 

The next year, Garcia equaled his 15 long balls and spent the majority of his first full pro season at High Single-A. He also improved overall as a hitter, raising his 2014 slash line of .225/.301/.343 to .264/.342/.431 in 2015. The next climb up the farm system ladder was set in place, until it was gone with an excruciating injury. 

Garcia's 2016 season was limited to 47 games played as he sustained a facial fracture in May while sliding into second base. In an attempt to break up a double play, Garcia took a knee to the face. The injury kept him out until the end of July.

When the chance to play in the Arizona Fall League for the Scottsdale Scorpions arose, Garcia jumped at the opportunity. 

"First thing I did was call my parents and let them know," Garcia told on Monday. "I was just really excited for getting the opportunity to play against guys who are extremely talented and obviously make up for reps, which are extremely important."

Garcia never did exactly find his rhythm after the injury and finished the season batting .257/.323/.340 with two homers in 41 games. In the first half, the 23-year-old hit .298/.359/.369 compared to a lowly .200/.273/.300 in the second half. 

The catcher known more for his offense than defense, is off to a slow start at the plate while facing some of the top prospects in baseball. Throuh six games, he has gone 3-for-17 at the plate, good for a .176 average. But, Garcia acknowledged he's focusing heavily on his defense in the AFL. 

"I feel like when somebody tries to steal on me, I tend to take it a little bit personally," he said. "It's definitely something I take pride in, something I work on hard every day. There's a little routine I do with receiving and footwork, things like that every day."

Behind the dish, Garcia caught 38 percent of base runners looking to swipe a bag on him last season. Through his three years in the minors, Garcia has erased 34 percent of base stealers and owns a .993 fielding percentage. 

Cubs, Indians name starting pitchers for Game 1 of World Series


Cubs, Indians name starting pitchers for Game 1 of World Series

World Series ace Jon Lester is all set to start Game 1 for the Chicago Cubs.

Lester will be fully rested when he pitches Tuesday night at Cleveland. Corey Kluber will start for the Indians.

The 32-year-old lefty is 2-0 in three starts during this postseason, with wins over the Giants and Dodgers in the NL playoffs. He was 19-5 during the regular season.

Lester is 3-0 in three starts in the World Series with a sparkling 0.43 ERA. He helped the Boston Red Sox win championships in 2007 and 2013.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon says Lester is "really, really in the moment" right now.


Indians ace Corey Kluber will start Game 1 of the World Series against the Chicago Cubs.

Manager Terry Francona said Sunday that he will go with Kluber, an 18-ame winner during the regular season, in the opener on Tuesday night. The right-hander is 2-1 with a 0.98 ERA in his first postseason.

Francona has right-handers Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin penciled in for Games 2 and 3, respectively. The order could change depending on how Bauer's injured right pinkie heals over the next few days.

Bauer's start in the AL Championship Series lasted less than one inning after his pinkie began bleeding against Toronto. He injured his finger when he sliced it open while repairing a drone.

Also, injured starter Danny Salazar could be available against the Cubs. Salazar hasn't pitched since Sept. 9 because of forearm tightness but he's made major progress in the past week and could be on the World Series roster.