Giants pitch Samardzija as No. 2 starter

After San Francisco watched their free agent courtship of Zack Greinke turn sour, they bounced back Saturday by signing RHP Jeff Samardzija to a relatively modest five-year, $90 million deal, pending a physical.

Samardzija was just last year a top name in hot stove headlines as he worked an All-Star 2014 onto his resume. He posted a 2.99 ERA with the Chicago Cubs and Oakland A’s with a healthy 4.1 WAR.

The Giants hope the 30-year-old out of Notre Dame can return to his 2014 form after a slip with the White Sox last season, where he allowed a Major League leading 228 hits, 118 runs and league-leading 29 home runs. He put up a 4.96 ERA alongside an 11-15 record in 2015.

Now, he’s got Buster Posey behind the dish and Gold Glover Brandon Crawford right behind him leading one of the best infields in baseball.

The Giants are betting Samardzija, who’s pitched more than 200 innings every year since 2013, can slip in to the No. 2 spot behind current workhorse Madison Bumgarner. General Manager Bobby Evans spoke with beat writers about the deal:

“You look at his track record, you look at his presence that he brings on the mound, you look at back-to-back-to-back 200-plus seasons, and you realize this guy is a force to be reckoned with. There’s a reason why we targeted him and a reason why we focused on him as one of our top priorities.”

Take a breather, bullpen.

Evans also told reporters that Samardzija’s deal includes a $9 million signing bonus and $3 million paid upfront. He’ll get $12 million in 2016 and $19.5 million every year after with a limited no-trade clause.

Samardjiza is a fastball, cutter, sinker, slider kind of hurler, who’s fastball speed averages around the mid-90s.

The Giants’ rotation is starting to take form with Bumgarner, Samardzija and Jake Peavy essentially locked in to the first three spots. The four and five spots are still up for grabs; a deal with Mike Leake is still on the table to fill that fourth spot and Chris Heston and Clayton Blackburn — who pushed his way into the mix with a 123-inning, 2.85 ERA (late start) season with the Sacramento Rivercats — could very will fill the final spot.

Matt Cain could be the dark horse running into that rotation. Don’t forget about him.

These Giants have an odd set of options, but Samardzija’s signing helped settle the dust.


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