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.

Giants, Andres Torres agree on one-year deal

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Giants, Andres Torres agree on one-year deal

SAN FRANCISCO – The Giants already brought back World Series heroes from 2012 when they re-signed Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro and Jeremy Affeldt.

Now they’re bringing the band back together from the 2010 World Series championship, too – one of its most popular members, at least.

The club is saying hello to Andres Torres, agreeing to terms with the fan-favorite outfielder on a one-year contract. CSN Bay Area has learned that Torres will receive a major league deal worth $2 million and will be added to the 40-man roster once he passes a physical.

The Giants began talking to Torres as soon as he was non-tendered by the New York Mets on Nov. 30. He’s expected to provide depth at all three outfield positions and push Gregor Blanco for time in left field.

A switch hitter, Torres would be suited to form the right-handed portion of a platoon with Blanco. He hit .286 with a .382 on-base percentage against left-handed pitchers last season with the Mets. (He hit .195 against right-handers.)

Torres also provides more athleticism off the bench as a pinch hitter and pinch runner on days he does not start.

“He’s been a good Giant, he’s good against left-handed pitching and can play truthfully all three outfield positions,” Giants vice president Bobby Evans told CSN Bay Area. “We’ve won with pitching and defense and that’s a clear strength of his.”

Torres, who turns 35 on Jan. 26, provided a vital spark to the Giants in 2010 after joining the team a year earlier as a non-roster free agent. He hit .268 with a .343 on-base percentage and smacked 43 doubles and 16 home runs while scoring 84 runs. Torres began to fade down the stretch that season and missed a month because of an appendectomy, but returned in the playoffs.

Torres also became a beloved figure with fans who appreciated his all-out style on the field, his humility off the field and the candid way he discussed his battle to conquer attention-deficit syndrome during his long career in the minor leagues. The native of Puerto Rico is the subject of a documentary, “Gigante,” that delves into his life story.

He was the 2010 recipient of the Willie Mac Award as the most inspirational player, as selected by his fellow players and coaches.

Torres’ training methods include jumping up muddy hills and throwing tires, all barefoot while wearing designer jeans.

Last winter, the Giants, concerned about Torres’ high strikeout totals in 2011, traded him to the Mets along with right-hander Ramon Ramirez for Pagan. That trade turned out to be one of the most important deals of the offseason, as Pagan played to an All-Star level and was particularly effective after moving back into the leadoff role on Aug. 3.

Now that Pagan is back on a four-year, $40 million contract, the Giants essentially obtained him for Ramirez and a one-year rental of Torres. Not too shabby.

EXTRA BAGGS: Don't expect return of Ross the Boss, etc.

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EXTRA BAGGS: Don't expect return of Ross the Boss, etc.

NASHVILLE – From several angles, Cody Ross would appear to be a perfect fit to rejoin the Giants.

He remains hugely popular from his magical postseason in 2010. He’s a right-handed hitting outfielder. And the Giants would like to acquire a platoon partner for Gregor Blanco in left field.

But it wouldn’t be a perfect fit for Ross, who wants a multiyear contract with an everyday role. And obviously, in a platoon, the right-handed hitter always gets the short end.

So don’t expect Ross the Boss to return.

“Many of these guys aren’t going to sign for a platoon,” Giants vice president Bobby Evans said. “If you’re going to make a multiyear commitment, are you really going to platoon him?

“I wouldn’t rule it out, but we’re looking at one-year deals.”

That likely will preclude them from signing Scott Hairston, who is attracting a lot of interest as he holds out for a deal similar to the two-year, $10 million contract the Red Sox gave to Jonny Gomes.

And although the Giants made a strong two-year offer for Ryan Ludwick, it was contingent on talks falling apart with second baseman Marco Scutaro. Once Scutaro agreed to his three-year, $20 million deal, the Ludwick dollars disappeared.

Nick Swisher? He expects to be in a whole other bracket.

With the Giants already bumping up against their payroll ceiling in the $140 million range, they expect to start the season with Blanco as the starting left fielder – a stance they feel able to make because of the defensive value he brings to their pitching staff.

Barring an abrupt change, the Giants’ key personnel are set for 2013.

“You’re never really done, but certainly, the starting lineup and rotation and top end of our bullpen has been set and that’s very satisfying,” said Evans, who was able to re-sign center fielder Angel Pagan and left-hander Jeremy Affeldt in addition to Scutaro. “Brian (Sabean) and Bruce (Bochy) had a clear vision of what they wanted to happen, and didn’t take for granted that it would. Those players had options and perhaps even options beyond where we were.”

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The Giants fell in love with Scutaro’s attitude and clubhouse presence as much as his unbelievable run as the No.2 hitter.

They appreciate him even more now. From what I’ve been told, Scutaro’s agents came to the Giants early in the offseason and told them that a three-year, $20 million contract would get it done.

The Giants preferred a two-year structure. Meanwhile, Scutaro’s agents fielded other offers and the money went up and up. He had a two-year offer for close to $18 million from the Cardinals, who went as far as to arrange Matt Holliday to give Scutaro a call in case there were any lingering hard feelings from his takeout slide in the NLCS. I’m not sure that call was ever made, though, as the Giants sweetened their offer to three years and $20 million.

That’s a far lower average annual value, obviously, and there was some doubt whether Scutaro would accept it. But just as Scutaro’s agents promised, three and twenty got it done.

Scutaro was good to his word.

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John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle flagged down the year-by-year on Scutaro’s contract: He gets a $2 million signing bonus and $6 million in each of the next three seasons.

You’ll recall that Angel Pagan received a $5 million signing bonus as part of his four-year, $40 million deal. That money is not deferred and payable immediately.

Expect more players and agents to request front-loaded contracts with a signing bonus, and the reason is simple: The fiscal cliff is looming, President Obama has vowed to increase taxes on the wealthy, and most of these players are very much among the 1 percent.

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All indications are that the Giants will not seek to re-sign right-hander Guillermo Mota. They would like to add more relief depth, though.

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A lot of people ask me which Giants minor leaguers could make the opening-day roster or make an impact early in the season. I think you’d have to look in the outfield, where the Giants’ depth is likely to be tested. Roger Kieschnick showed that his shoulder is healthy in the Dominican winter league, and Francisco Peguero, while not a finished product, is a right-handed hitter with all the tools to be a plus defender with surprising power. Peguero still has the best bat speed of anyone in the Giants farm system.

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Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, asked about the Giants on CSN Bay Area: “It’s part of our mission to not let them keep winning.”

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There is a dearth of catching in the league, as illustrated by the fact that Eli Whiteside has been claimed on waivers twice this offseason (by the Yankees and then the Blue Jays).

So it stands to reason that Jackson Williams and Johnny Monell could be the Giants minor leaguers most liable to be snagged in the Rule 5 draft on Thursday. Monell, a left-handed hitter whose bat is much more valuable than his defense, is having a terrific season in the Puerto Rican winter league, too.

A week ago, the Giants signed 31-year-old catcher Guillermo Quiroz to a minor league contract. He has played in 103 games over parts of eight major league seasons with the Blue Jays, Mariners, Rangers, Orioles and Red Sox.

Sounds like a modern-day Yamid Haad.

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On Tuesday, A's insider Casey Pratt and I both accepted the challenge and worked in an "I reckon" into our TV appearances from Nashville. Casey outdid me by getting in two of 'em. He would've been tough to beat in "Name That Tune."