Before Zack Greinke signed a six-year, $206.5 million contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the San Francisco Giants were making a push to sign the runner up to the 2015 Cy Young Award. So on Saturday, the Giants went with plan B and signed right-handed pitcher Jeff Samardzija to a five-year, $90 million contract. The deal is still pending a physical.
The free-agent market for starting pitchers has been very favorable thus far. Samardzija who turns 31 next month, will make an average of $18 million a season. The Giants are in the midst of reworking their rotation and adding a workhorse like Samardzija will give San Francisco a nice one-two punch with Madison Bumgarner as their ace.
Samardzija joined the Chicago White Sox via trade during the winter meetings in 2014. In his first full season in the American League, Samardzija went 11-13 with a 4.96 ERA, which registered as the third-highest among all qualified A.L. pitchers in 2015. It also happened to be his worst ERA in the four years that he’s been a starter. He also has 13 losses in each of those four seasons.
The Giants will have to count on Samardzija having a bounce back season, even though he has never had a winning season. For his career, Samardzija has a 47-61 record, with a career ERA of 4.09, and he’s also coming off a season in which he led the American League in home runs, hits and runs allowed.
The Giants are hoping a return to the National League, as well as a relationship with pitching coach Dave Righetti, will get him on the right track. Samardzija at times has been very dominant and has shown he can be very durable as well.
As it stands now, pending any further deals by the Giants, their rotation will consist of Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Jake Peavy, Chris Heston and now Samardzija. Cain, who at one point was considered an elite pitcher, has made only 29 starts over the past two seasons because of injuries. His ERA is 4.37 since the start of 2013. Peavy, 34, has dealt with his share of injuries in his career as well. Starting pitchers from the Giants 2015 roster who are gone, include Tim Hudson who retired and Tim Lincecum who is a free-agent that is not expected to return. Mike Leake, who was acquired at the trade deadline last summer, is also a free-agent.