Giants

Giants sign Casilla to three-year contract

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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.

Madison Bumgarner, Gorkys Hernandez make statements in win over Dodgers

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USATSI

Madison Bumgarner, Gorkys Hernandez make statements in win over Dodgers

LOS ANGELES — A 2-1 victory Saturday night at Dodger Stadium all but assured that the Giants will not lose 100 games. They still could, sure, because any sort of downslide is possible in this 2017 season, but they would really have to finish with some sort of ugly stretch. 

Still, it’s been a long season, so it was no surprise when Madison Bumgarner admitted to some sleepless nights since Opening Day. As for Saturday night …

“It’s going to be much easier to go to sleep tonight, because we won,” Bumgarner said.

The big lefty did the heavy lifting, throwing 7 2/3 dominant innings and offering one more reminder that his shoulder is 100 percent fine after a season-halting dirt bike accident. Bumgarner topped out at 93.5 mph, and even though Bruce Bochy thought Dodger Stadium might have had a hot gun on this night, the swings told the story of a good fastball. Bumgarner said this was as good as he has felt in a while. 

“He did look strong,” Bochy said. “He did have really good stuff tonight. It was really crisp.”

It was the kind of night that reminds you that, for all their issues, the Giants will start 2018 with a leg up on many others. They have Madison Bumgarner and you don’t, and that should lead to plenty of good over the course of 32 or 33 starts. 

“I think it’s good for the club to know, hey, he’s back,” Bochy said. “This is the kind of ball we can play.”

It was the brand Bochy appreciates: A strong start, a good bullpen, strong defense, and just enough offense. That’s how the Giants will win in 2018, if they are to do so, which bodes well for the man at the center of Saturday’s offense. The Giants plan to move Denard Span to left field and acquire a new center fielder, but they still lack depth in the organization, and Gorkys Hernandez has made it clear he would like to stick around. He had three hits — including two doubles — and a walk, scoring both Giants runs. 

After a slow start that almost got him released, Hernandez took off over the summer, providing a high average and sparkling defense at three spots. A left wrist tendon issue has slowed him in September, but he surprised the staff by being available for the final two weeks of games, and he said he’ll play through the end of the year before considering any rehab options 

“He certainly has made a statement,” Bochy said. “He’s one of our better athletes. He can play anywhere in the outfield, and what’s impressive is how he’s come on with the bat. A kid like this that plays defense the way he can, and shows he can do some things with the bat, he’s in the mix.”

Hernandez said he loves playing in San Francisco. He intends to spend his offseason getting healthy at his home in Scottsdale before competing for an outfield job. 

“Every time Bochy puts me in the lineup I’m trying to show everyone that I can be here and that I can be part of this team for a long time,” he said. 

Giants lineup: Span back in center, batting third vs Dodgers

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AP

Giants lineup: Span back in center, batting third vs Dodgers

Even with the Giants facing a left-handed pitcher Saturday night vs. the Dodgers, Bruce Bochy is going with Denard Span as his three-hitter.

San Francisco Giants (60-94)

1. Gorkys Hernandez (R) LF
2. Joe Panik (L) 2B
3. Denard Span (L) CF
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Hunter Pence (R) RF
6. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
7. Kelby Tomlinson (R) 3B
8. Ryder Jones (L) 1B
9. Madison Bumgarner (R) P

Los Angeles Dodgers (98-56)

1. Chris Taylor (R) CF
2. Corey Seager (L) SS
3. Enrique Hernandez (R) LF
4. Yasiel Puig (R) RF
5. Logan Forsythe (R) 3B
6. Austin Barnes (R) C
7. Kyle Farmer (R) 1B
8. Charlie Culberson (R) 2B
9. Hyun-Jin Ryu (R) P