Report: Giants in serious talks with Watson; Red Sox, Phillies also involved

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HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 28: Tony Watson #33 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch during the eighth inning against the Houston Astros in game four of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 28, 2017 in Houston, Texas.
Tom Pennington / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The San Francisco Giants appear to be pushing for what would be a major bullpen upgrade from the left side.

San Francisco is reportedly engaged in serious contract talks with free-agent left-handed reliever Tony Watson, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

But the Giants appear to have some competition for his services, as Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies are also talking to him. It's not clear how advanced his discussions with Boston or Philadelphia may be.

The Giants' bullpen is perilously thin on southpaws heading into spring training. Will Smith - acquired in a 2016 deadline-day deal - was supposed to address the issue, but his status is unknown for this year while he rehabs from Tommy John surgery that cost him all of last season.

As the roster stands, Bruce Bochy's primary left-handed options appear to consist of Steven Okert, who put up a 5.67 ERA in 44 appearances for the Giants last season, and Josh Osich, who produced 6.23 ERA while averaging over five walks allowed per nine innings in 54 games.

Philadelphia has already made one significant veteran bullpen addition in Pat Neshek, and like the Giants, only have one left-hander in the bullpen right now. Watson could provide the Phillies with another important veteran to help a young team.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, might be seeking Watson to help fortify an already lethal bullpen and team him with All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel late in ball games.

Watson, an All-Star in 2014 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, would be a boost to the back end of any bullpen this winter.

The 32-year-old split his 2017 season between the Pirates and Los Angeles Dodgers, crafting a 3.38 ERA (128 ERA+) while striking out 53 batters and walking just 20 in 71 regular-season appearances. He also added 10 saves while still in Pittsburgh, where he briefly served as the team's closer.

Watson was a key contributor to the Dodgers' run to the World Series last October, as he held opposing hitters to an even .200 average in 11 playoff appearances.