Following the heels of the Nick Vincent signing, the Giants signed lefty reliever Fernando Abad to a minor-league contract according to Jon Heyman.
fernando abad has minors deal with the #SFGiants. will start in minor league camp. 800K plus incentives if in majors.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 21, 2019
Since the contract does not include an invite to MLB camp, so it’s possible that this is the only time we’ll be thinking about Fernando Abad this year. His stint with the Phillies last year lasted a little more than a month before he was released.
Abad has uphill climb if he wants to return to the big leagues. He hasn’t pitched since 2017 due to an 80-game PED suspension, and he turned 33 in December. In his last season, he struck out 37 and walked 14 in 43 2/3 innings, and he put together a 3.68 FIP. That’s not a bad year at all, but it was two years ago. It’s hard to say what his stuff will look like since he has thrown a professional inning since October 2017.
As with all of Farhan Zaidi’s moves this offseason, there’s basically no downside here. If Abad doesn’t work out, all it costs the Giants is $800,000. It doesn’t even cost a roster spot. It’s all upside here even if the upside is having a guy who can throw some middle-relief innings in an uncompetitive season.
What makes this move interesting though is what it might mean for some other, better pitchers on the Giants’ roster, notably Will Smith and Tony Watson. Earlier this week, Zaidi said that the Giants plan to carry three lefties in the bullpen.
Farhan Zaidi said Giants will have three lefty relievers, which could help a guy like Travis Bergen, the Rule 5 pick. One early impression he’s had in camp: Aramis Garcia’s power. “That’s been a revelation to me,” he said.— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) February 19, 2019
Assuming nothing changes by Opening Day, that looks like Will Smith, Tony Watson, and Travis Bergen. Beyond them, there’s Ty Blach, Steven Okert, and Pat Venditte if the batter is left-handed. Derek Holland could also see some time in the bullpen. Abad adds to an already deep pool of lefties, but there’s a possibility that pool is subtracted from before the season begins.
There were also reports that the Giants are still involved in trade conversations with other teams. If there is a trade, Smith or Watson seem like the likeliest to go. Smith arguably has the highest trade value of anyone on the roster, and right behind him is Tony Watson. The argument against that is that if a pitcher as good as Nick Vincent was available as an NRI, then who’s going to be interested in two very good relievers who are making a whopping $3-$4 million?
In a Giants roster without Smith and Watson, Abad might be sixth on the lefty depth chart. Abad’s signing isn’t proof that the Giants will trade their two best lefty relievers. It might just be that Zaidi saw a potentially good player available for almost nothing, and there’s no such thing as having too many good players. Still, the odds of a trade could be higher than they were yesterday, even if just marginally so.