SAN FRANCISCO -- Holding onto right-hander Santiago Casilla is part of the Giants' plan to maintain their supremacy.
The Giants have relied heavily on pitching during their streak of four consecutive winning seasons, which has included World Series triumphs in two of the last three years. That has prompted general manager Brian Sabean to retain the club's productive pitchers -- including Casilla, whose three-year, $15 million deal became official Tuesday when he passed his physical exam.
Casilla, who discussed a multiyear deal with club management last offseason, joined the sizable contingent of Giants pitchers signed to multi-year contracts. Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Jeremy Affeldt are on long-term deals; the club holds options for 2014 on Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong; and Tim Lincecum and Javier Lopez are in the final year of two-year pacts.
Since Casilla was entering his final year of salary-arbitration eligibility, the Giants essentially bought out two years of his free agency. The agreement included a club/vesting option for 2016.
"One of Boch [manager Bruce Bochy] and Brian's priorities is to protect our bullpen, which protects our starters," Giants vice president of baseball operations Bobby Evans said. "Being able to keep key components of the bullpen gives us an advantage."
Evans said that the Giants wouldn't rule out negotiating a multi-year deal with right-hander Sergio Romo, who replaced Casilla as San Francisco's primary closer. "It's certainly possible to look at that," Evans said. But since Romo still has two years of arbitration eligibility remaining, there's less urgency on both sides to forge an agreement.
When the time's right for Romo to negotiate with the Giants, the process could be simple. "They've expressed a willingness on their part for him to be there long-term. And he feels the same way," said Romo's agent, Barry Meister.
Casilla led the Giants with 73 appearances and 25 saves in 2012. He was San Francisco's initial substitute for closer Brian Wilson when Tommy John surgery sidelined the three-time National League All-Star in April. Casilla converted 19 of his first 20 save opportunities, but lost the closer's role after blowing five of nine save chances between June 24 and July 21.
Casilla still contributed in a setup role, blanking opponents in 19 of his final 23 games before finishing 7-6 with a 2.84 ERA. He excelled in the postseason, surrendering one earned run in seven innings spanning 11 outings. He was the winning pitcher in the Game 4 World Series clincher at Detroit, recording one out to preserve a 3-3 tie and force extra innings. In three years with the Giants, Casilla is 16-10 with a 2.22 ERA and 33 saves in 174 relief outings.