San Francisco Giants: What Happens With Chris Heston Now?


The San Francisco Giants signed Johnny Cueto on Monday afternoon, giving them a very formidable front three in their rotation with Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija paired with their new acquisition. With Cueto in tow, that likely leaves Chris Heston‘s position in flux as 2016 approaches.

Before the signing, Heston was likely to be slotted either fourth or fifth in the rotation along with Matt Cain and Jake Peavy, but with another highly paid starter on the roster, the Giants will either keep Heston in the big leagues as their long-man/spot starter or have him start the season in Triple-A Sacramento to keep him stretched out.

The five starters, minus Heston, will average an income of $15.91 million in 2016 while Heston, 27, isn’t even arbitration eligible for another two seasons. While money doesn’t dictate everything–Bumgarner is being paid the least of the starters at $9.75 million in 2016–Heston is no Bumgarner. The right-hander held a 3.95 ERA in his rookie season, making 31 starts which included a no-hitter against the National League champion New York Mets.

Whichever route the Giants take with Heston, he will still be the first in line to fill in should the Giants need him. Cain’s health has been a big question mark for the team the past couple of seasons, so there is a decent shot that Heston will get his chance in the rotation if one of the starters hits the disabled list, or Bruce Bochy wants to give Cain some extra days off in between starts.

Heston may have to impress, too. Behind him in the minor leagues are some talented young pitchers that should be climbing up to Triple-A at different points throughout 2016. At the top of the list is the team’s #1 prospect Tyler Beede, who spent some time in Double-A Richmond last season, going 3-8 with a 5.23 ERA in 13 starts. The high earned run average was likely propelled by his highest walk rate in the pros at 4.4 per nine innings. Beede may see a brief stint back in Richmond to start the season before making the climb to Sacramento. He could be looking at a late 2016/early 2017 debut with the San Francisco Giants.

Behind him is Kyle Crick, who has pitched well in Double-A, totaling a 3.59 ERA over 153 innings split between two seasons, but the problem with Crick has also been his walk rate. In his time in Richmond, the 23-year-old holds a 7.5 per nine walk rate, which is just above his 7.4 mark for hits allowed per nine. On the plus side, his excellent fastball has been able to work him out of some jams which helps with his ERA. Crick has never had a K/9 rate below 10.3 in five minor league seasons.

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Heston should be able to fend off his competition in the minor leagues this season, but the real task at hand will be working his way onto the big league roster and sticking there beyond 2016.