The Los Angeles Dodgers landed Shohei Ohtani on a record-breaking contract worth $700 million over 10 years. The 29-year-old will now join a lineup that includes Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, striking fear into the heart of every NL West fan.
The San Francisco Giants have to feel particularly bummed out. Last season ended on a dour note, as the Giants went 9-19 in the months of September and October before firing Gabe Kapler.
Now, Bob Melvin will run the show in 2023 as the Giants look to re-establish prominence in the NL West. The expectation was that San Francisco would target the offseason's marquee free agents. Pete Putila and the front office may still land a big fish, but Ohtani was the white whale. The Giants were in the reported mix for Ohtani, but rather than sign the greatest player in modern baseball history, the Giants will have to face him for the next decade.
Last season's Giants team was proof that star power isn't everything. Before their late collapse, Kapler's squad was right in the thick of the NL Wild Card race. Still, star power is generally what separates good teams from great teams. The Giants were right on the cusp of landing Carlos Correa last offseason, but it fell through. Same with Aaron Judge.
This San Francisco front office has tried and failed to land an offensive superstar multiple times now. As the team pivots away from Ohtani, here are a few options left to save their offseason and push the team forward.
3. Giants can boost bullpen with Hector Neris signing
The Giants' bullpen needs serious work. Hector Neris profiles as one of the best relievers left on the market. He appeared in 71 games for the Houston Astros in 2023, posting a 1.71 ERA and 1.054 WHIP with 77 strikeouts in 68.1 innings pitched. With the 2022 World Series on his résumé and 10 years of MLB experience to lean on, he would immediately add a reliable weapon to the Giants' relief crew.
Neris doesn't overwhelm batters with his velocity, as his average fastball tops out around 93 MPH. Instead, Neris uses location control and a nifty 83 MPH changeup to keep batters guessing. He posted a 28.2 strikeout percentage last season, in the MLB's 83rd percentile. His sweet-spot percentage of 28.0 lands in the 98th percentile, per Baseball Savant. That soft-contact expertise — with an average exit velocity of only 86.5 MPH — should suit the Giants' elite defensive personnel.
Now 34 years old, Neris won't demand a significant long-term commitment. The Giants should be able to land him for a relatively affordable price over a short time period, maximizing future flexibility while bolstering the bullpen in the interim. Neris doesn't traditionally close (two saves in 71 appearances last season), but he would pitch San Francisco out of jams on a regular basis.
The high walk rate (11.4 percent) is a concern, but Neris brings a lot to the bullpen. Not exactly the flashiest move, but a valuable one nonetheless.