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Saturday, December 05, 2015

Giants settle for Samardzija: 5 years/$90M

For a team that was heavy in the running for the two top arms on the free agent market, David Price and Zack Greinke, the Giants had to settle for a consolation prize on Saturday.

The Giants came to terms with free agent right-hander Jeff Samradzija on a 5-year, $90 million deal in order to slot hard-thrower into the number 2 spot in their rotation behind Madison Bumgarner. Even when the Giants won their last tittle in 2014, they didn't really have a starting pitcher (or many relief arms for that matter) that Bruce Bochy felt comfortable using and Jeff Samardzija will give them just that.

There are some concerns about the season Samardzija is coming off of with the ChiSox where he struggled throughout and posted an 11-13 record to go with a 4.96 ERA. It's not like it was a fluke ERA either as he was hit hard, giving up a league-high 229 hits coupled with 29 big flies. Now of course the Giants are hoping a return to the NL will mean a return to his pre-2015 numbers but to tell you the truth, the big righty has only had three full seasons since 2008 in which he's performed like a front-end pitcher. Since becoming a full-time starter in 2012 he's posted ERA's of 3.81, 4.34, 2.99 and 4.96. So, your looking at an average ERA in the low-mid 4's as a starter and that just doesn't have me elated about the Giants new number two. Not that I dislike the move necessarily, I just felt there was a better one to be made.

Now, I know the general theme of my response to the move so far has been somewhat negative, but that being said, of the arms out there in free agency not named Johnny Cueto, I do think Samardzija was probably the best choice. I mean, if he was coming into free agency after his 2014 season, he probably would have been easily the third choice after Greinke and Price and would have likely got himself a deal well into the $100 millions. So, on that front, if the Giants convinced themselves 2015 was more of an aberration rather than the start of a downward trend, I can see why Samardzija did attract them. I do like him much more than Mike Leake and would have been livid had they given Leake that deal instead. Another positive is that they didn't have to shell out $150M or whatever some of these top-flight starters are getting this winter and now have an extra chunk of change that they can use to really upgrade left field rather than throw another one-year stop-gap out there. They also still should have some dough left to solidify the back end of that rotation too. One intriguing guy I'm keeping tabs on is Scott Kazmir, who may be inclined to take another one-year deal after his terrible second half in Houston. I doubt he'll settle for 4th or 5th starter money though and shouldn't have trouble finding more.

With Samardzija signed sealed and delivered though, it does leave me to question why the Giants weren't more active in pursuit of Johnny Cueto. I mean, he's a guy who's an ace when he's right, is just 29-30 years old and absolutely shreds the NL. There are only two reasons I can really think of which may have scared them away. One is they just don't feel like he's going to age well into his contract and only has another couple of seasons tops, as an elite arm. His second half of last year after his huge 2014 workload may have signaled him hitting some sort of career wall.

The other area, and probably the one which was ultimately the deciding factor, is the health issues but looking at his track record, he's started 30+ games in all but 2 seasons since 2008. He also sports a nice 90-72 record with a 3.30 ERA and 1.18 WHIP during that span while throwing in the NL Central which is something like a 2.50 ERA and 1.03 WHIP translated over into the NL West. So yeah, I wanted to see what that guy could have done in this big spacious yard but alas it wasn't meant to be and it's gonna be big 6'7" Jeff Samardzija taking the ball in game two of the 2016 season for your San Francisco Giants!

For anyone who didn't know much of Samardzija outside of his sub-par 2015 run with the South-siders, here's a little 2 minute video "The Shark" shutting down Toronto, and you can easily see how he put up that 2.99 ERA and 1.06 WHIP (regardless of the 7-13 W-L record) in '14!

The Giants don't appear to be finished yet either. They reportedly have intentions on meeting with or have already met with Ben Zobrist Saturday and he's been a guy they've been eyeing since they had a void at second base in 2014 (before Joe Panik came and saved the day). Now the Giants are looking to him as a possible replacement for Nori Aoki in left field and I kind of have that feeling that their going to get something done with him. They also are still looking at back-end options for their starting rotation as well as other outfielders. It wouldn't surprise me to see them get all their work done soon either, so stay tuned cause this is the time of year when things start happening in the blink of an eye!

In closing, not a bad deal by any stretch, just not quite the one I wanted, but hey, they got the best of the second-tier, I'll give them that. Positives: Great health history, in his prime at 30-31 and has had a light enough workload over his career, being a reliever for much of it, that he should have plenty left in the tank. He's got the high-powered fastball that hits the upper-90's which will be fun to see and that fall off the table breaking ball. A great three, a solid two. I grade the contract/addition a solid "B".
The Giants Baseball Blog


  • At 12:52 PM, Anonymous Jason Billingsley said…

    Man "settle"? I think Samadzija is a huge upgrade to anyone they had not named MadBum last year. I'm sorry but Mike Leake felt like a AAA callup to me and I never felt much confidence in him.. I love that Samardzia is tough mean big and competitive and will bring it 97 each night. I can't wait to see him pitch this April and I give this move an A! I mean they saved fraction of the money guys like Price and Grenke got..

    Bet you Grenke gets hurt anyway either year 2 of 3 and this move looks even better.

  • At 1:32 PM, Anonymous MySportsRadio said…

    Am I missing something here. I never even heard of Jeff Samarja before 2014 I think when people were tring to trade for him but I always thought he's a middle rotation guy. Wasn't he a releiver just a few years ago too? I don't know about this one yet. I really wish we coulda got one of those big four (Price, Zimerman, Grienke or Cueto) and we have enough money to where it shouldn't have been an issue..

    Unless they get a star for left like Cespedes or Upton and get another good 4th starter like maybe like Doug Fister. I remember him being a beasst for washington in playoffs couple years back. I just hate how they make one big move then just think there set. I still think this team is a 4th or 5th place team now with the D-Backs improving.... Giants only clearly better than Colorado and SD right now in my opinion.

  • At 3:31 PM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…


    Don't get me wrong, as I said, Samardzija is better than anyone not named MadBum, and he's better than Mike Leake. He's an upgrade, but the Giants had the money to make a huge splash. So my question is why not spend a litle extra on a guy who can be ace 1A to Madison in Johnny Cueto. I mean, Cueto's 28/29 and entering his prime. He was hitting 97 mph in he 9th inning of game two of the World Series when he shut down the Mets in game 2 so there doesn't appear to be any health concerns now. I'm porbably a little subjective cause I've always like Cueto and like watching him pitch.

    I just think something either about his health or concern for him not holding up as he gets into his 30's or maybe the Giants just didn't think as highly of him as I do. His numbers compared to Price and Grienke are neck-and-neck and he's younger than them so his situation boggles me a bit.

  • At 12:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    can we get pedro alvarez as our utuility guy, a la Pat Burrell... Dude has legit power and he was the guy i wanted them to replace Panda with.


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