SF Giants sign Curt Casali to one-year deal

SAN FRANCISCO — As Curt Casali entered the Giants’ clubhouse before the team’s series finale against the Dodgers — a clubhouse he had called home on many occasions — his teammates greeted him with an unexpected barrage of confetti, a surprise that Casali admits caught him off guard.

While the circumstances are far from ideal, the Giants, having signed Casali to a one-year deal on Wednesday, are happy to have the veteran backstop back in their clubhouse.

“I think I probably shed a tear,” Casali, who will get the start on Wednesday, said of the deal. “Coming back here is like coming home. I had some of the best years of my professional baseball life here. Some of my best friends are still here. Not many people get to do it again, so I’m just very, very thankful.”

“A lot of the things that you want from that position, he does very well,” said manager Bob Melvin. “I know our guys, especially the ones who have been around him before, are excited.”

In a corresponding move, catcher Jakson Reetz was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento while fellow backstop Tom Murphy, who was placed on the injured list on May 5 due to a left knee sprain, was transferred from the 10-day injured list to the 60-day injured list.

Casali re-joins the Giants at a time in which their roster has been devastated by injuries, having placed seven position players (Murphy, Patrick Bailey, Jung Hoo Lee, Jorge Soler, Michael Conforto, Austin Slater, Nick Ahmed) on the injured list since last Friday.

On Tuesday, alone, Bailey was placed back into concussion protocol just before first pitch while right-hander Keaton Winn exited in the middle of the fifth inning due to right forearm tightness (Melvin said Wednesday that an MRI revealed Winn’s injury to be mild and that initial reports are encouraging). That doesn’t include Soler, who begins a rehab assignment with Sacrament tonight and could be back by Friday, ominously being struck by a foul ball during batting practice that deflected off the batting cage.

“You never want to get an opportunity because somebody gets hurt,” Casali said. “I’ve played against Tom for a few years now. We were in Seattle for a little bit together. But that’s just the nature of the game. It’s a tough position to play. It sucks for him. I feel for him. But at the same time, the game goes on. We need to fill the roster. I was thankful I was playing well enough that (president of baseball operations) Farhan (Zaidi) was able to give me a look.”

At the conclusion of spring training, the 35-year-old found himself without a team. Casali signed a minor-league contract with the Marlins in late February, but he was released a week before the season after going 1-for-17 in nine Grapefruit League games. He considered non-playing options, such as coaching or a front office role, but ended up signing a minor-league contract with the Cubs just before the regular season.

On Tuesday, Casali, whose minor-league contract with the Cubs held an opt-out, was told by his agent that a deal with the Giants was a possibility. After going 2-for-4 with a walk for the Iowa Cubs against the Syracuse Mets, raising his batting average to .362 and OPS to 1.040, he received a text from his agent telling him to pack his bags. Casali recalled texting with Mike Yastrzemski once the deal was completed, joking that Yastrezmski said “some expletives” during a late-night conversation.

“At the end of the day, I didn’t feel like being told I was done,” Casali said. “I’d rather go out on my own terms. The universe is funny. If you get a chance, take it. Fortunately, I was playing well enough to force somebody’s hand. I’m thankful I’m not ready for that phase of my life yet.”

Casali played 77 games for the Giants in 2021, hitting .210 with five home runs while backing up Buster Posey on a team that would win a franchise-record 107 regular-season games. He played 41 games for the Giants in 2022 before being traded to the Mariners.

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