The Giants announced this left-hander on Thursday Jake McGee, whom they had designated for use over the weekend, was placed on an unconditional waiver of release. San Francisco also claimed lefties Aaron Fletcher waived waivers from the Pirates and optioned him for Triple-A Sacramento. left handed Jose Alvarez was carried over to the 60-day injured list to open a spot on the 40-man list.
McGee, 35, is in the second season of a two-year, $5 million deal that will net him $2.5 million and includes a $4.5 million club option (with a $500,000 buyout Dollar). He still owes him the remainder of that salary and the full amount of the takeover. It’s fairly rare for players with a significant salary to be pulled from direct waivers or release waivers during the season, making it likely that he’ll clear and become a free agent. At this point, any team could sign McGee and only owe him the prorated league minimum for any time he spent in the majors. The Giants would remain on the hook for the remainder of his salary.
The contract looked brilliant last season when McGee went 59 2/3 innings with 2.72 ERA balls. The left-hander led the Giants with 31 saves, beat out 24.3% of his opponents against a tiny 4.2% walk rate, and served as a key member of a bullpen that led San Francisco to MLB’s all-time 107 wins.
In 2022, however, things weren’t going nearly as smoothly. Although his speed has mostly stayed the same, McGee’s strikeout rate has dropped to 11.5% while his walk rate has increased to 6.3%. Beyond the free fall in his strikeout rate, McGee hasn’t been able to strand any runners this season, as his 49.7% left-on-base rate was miles below the 74.4% career rate he carried into the season. The end result is a disastrous 7.17 ERA in his first 21 1/3 innings.
Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle spoke to McGee after the move. The southpaw described it as a “disappointment” to be let loose considering how much he enjoyed his time there, but he took the step and understood the team’s decision. Once he clears the waivers, he can sign with any team he chooses, and there are likely several clubs in the market for a virtually free look at a reliever with McGee’s track record.
Fletcher, meanwhile, will step in for McGee as a left relief option for the club. The 26-year-old split his time between Pittsburgh and their top affiliate Indianapolis, playing nine games with the Bucs and 14 in Triple-A. Fletcher allowed nine runs in 11 2/3 innings with the Big League club, hitting six while walking four. He only allowed six runs (three deserved) through 18 2/3 frames in Indianapolis, but apparently caught the attention of the Giants in the process.
While Fletcher has yet to find success in brief major league stints with the Mariners and Pirates, he does possess a 2.56 ERA in parts of four minor league campaigns. Throughout his pro career, he has typically posted smashing groundball numbers, including a clip of 55.2% in triple-A’s this season. Fletcher is in his second option year in the minor league, allowing him to be on and off the active roster for the foreseeable future.
Alvarez is out for a long time. The veteran southpaw landed on the IL with an elbow infection on July 5 and now won’t be able to return until early September. Alvarez, who signed a one-year guarantee through 2021, posted a sparkling 2.37 ERA in 64 2/3 innings. The club has exercised a $1.5m option on his services for this year, but he has a 5.28 ERA in 21 games. He’ll now miss at least most of the second half of the season and it remains to be seen if he’s healthy enough to conquer the mound again before hitting free agency next winter.