Giants

Acquiring Drew Pomeranz checks off many boxes for Farhan Zaidi, Giants

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USATSI

Acquiring Drew Pomeranz checks off many boxes for Farhan Zaidi, Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — When asked Wednesday afternoon about some of the bigger names that remain on the free agent market, Farhan Zaidi said he won’t talk about specific players.

But the new president of baseball operations at Oracle Park has been open about some traits he specifically is looking for in free agents, and in that respect, Drew Pomeranz checks off a lot of boxes. 

Pomeranz, a 30-year-old left-hander, was signed to a one-year, $1.5 million deal Wednesday that could guarantee him as much as $5 million if he hits incentives, according to The Athletic. He will be plugged into the rotation, and the Giants feel they have found their 2019 version of Derek Holland, a veteran lefty who rebounded last year in a new environment. 

Holland returned last week on a one-year deal that similarly fit what the Giants are looking for as they take a step back in the roster-building process. Here’s how Pomeranz fit that mold, too:

--- Look at the track record: When discussing guys like Mike Gerber and his Rule 5 picks, Zaidi has talked about the importance of going a few years back in a prospect’s profile. The same holds true for Pomeranz. He had a 6.08 ERA in 2018, but a year earlier he posted a 3.32 ERA while making 32 starts for an American League East club. He had a 3.32 ERA in 2016, too, and it was 2.47 for the Padres before he was traded to Boston. 

Pomeranz’s 3.32 ERA in 63 games across those two years ranks sixth among left-handed starters, behind Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Madison Bumgarner, Alex Wood, and Chris Sale. Zaidi worked with three of those pitchers in Los Angeles and now has two in San Francisco, and given that Pomeranz is just 30 years old, it’s not unrealistic to picture him getting back to that production. 

“You go back to 2016 and 17, he’s one of best left-handed starters in baseball,” Zaidi said. 

Zaidi later went way further back than 2016, repeatedly mentioning Pomeranz’s pedigree. 

“Drew’s got a pedigree dating back to his college days,” Zaidi said. “Team USA, and being a top-five pick in the draft.”

--- Take advantage of the ballpark: Pomeranz’s wife is from the Bay Area and the former Athletic met her here. He mentioned repeatedly that he likes San Francisco, and threw in how the ballpark can help starting pitchers. 

“The big thing for me was opportunity,” Pomeranz said. “My big thing for me was getting back on track and doing what I can do and just being myself again.”

Zaidi has made no secret of the fact that he’s using Oracle Park as a selling point for pitchers in need of a bounce-back, and he’s even open about how helpful it may be for them financially. He said Pomeranz’s side pushed for a one-year deal.

“It was important to get a one-year deal and reposition himself in free agency,” Zaidi said. “We’re certainly hoping we can give him that kind of platform to have him have a really strong year and re-enter the market or stay in San Francisco if it works for both sides.”

It’s a win-win. Pomeranz gets a shot to rebuild some value and cash in next winter, and if he does pitch well at Oracle Park, the Giants get a good starter … and a good trade chip. 

[RELATED: Will moves be made closer around Spring Training?]

--- Short-term deals: Zaidi inherited the worst future payroll situation in the league, and it has become clear that the Giants do not want to further dig that hole before a season in which they are not expected to contend, even though Zaidi said there’s no mandate for short-term deals. All three additions thus far — Pomeranz, Derek Holland, and Pat Venditte — have come on one-year deals, and the Giants have not been seriously in on any of the big names in the market. 

--- Versatility: Pomeranz has made 74 relief appearances in his career and allowed just a 3.00 ERA when coming out of the bullpen. He was signed to be a starter, but like Holland, he should be able to seamlessly move into the bullpen if needed at some point. 

“We value guys who have that flexibility, but where we are as a staff, with our depth in the bullpen and need for innings and more of a veteran presence on the rotation side, our plan is for him to be in the rotation,” Zaidi said.

MLB rumors: Giants-Twins Madison Bumgarner trade chatter ‘premature’

MLB rumors: Giants-Twins Madison Bumgarner trade chatter ‘premature’

It's possible that Madison Bumgarner made his last start for the Giants on Saturday at Oracle Park.

Charley Walters, a columnist for The Pioneer Press in Minnesota, reported that the Twins are "moving closer to a trade with the Giants for left-handed starter Madison Bumgarner."

Don't get too worked up just yet.

Darren Wolfson, a sports reporter for KSTP-TV in Minnesota, isn't ready to say a deal between the Giants and the Twins is close.

Bumgarner is the Giants' biggest trade chip, and he's expected to fetch them a haul of prospects before the July 31 trade deadline. A deal this far away from that deadline would be a surprise, though, as the team might want to wait longer for more suitors and richer offers.

The Twins aren’t one of the eight teams on Bumgarner's no-trade list, so that would make it easier for the Giants to facilitate a trade with Minnesota, which has surprised everyone this season and owned the best record in baseball through Saturday.

In 14 starts this season, 29-year-old Bumgarner has a 3.83 ERA and struck out 84 batters in 87 innings.

[RELATED: Will Smith remains focused as trade rumors swirl]

With the Giants in last place in the NL West, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi could start trading off his valuable pieces to restock the farm system. Along with Bumgarner, you can expect veteran relievers Will Smith, Tony Watson and Sam Dyson to be traded by the deadline.

Stephen Vogt's speed vs. Brewers leads Giants to fourth straight win

Stephen Vogt's speed vs. Brewers leads Giants to fourth straight win

SAN FRANCISCO -- Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey first worked together in the minors, and for a decade in the big leagues, more often than not, Posey has been in the squat when Bumgarner digs in and looks in at the plate in the first inning. Posey has caught nearly 80 percent of Bumgarner's big league starts, a number that would be much higher if not for a couple of season-ending injuries.

But when Giants manager Bruce Bochy sat down this week to plan out playing time, he made an interesting decision. With a day game Saturday, Bochy knew Posey, coming off a hamstring injury, would catch just one of the first two against the Brewers. He chose Friday, pairing Posey with Drew Pomeranz. That meant Stephen Vogt caught Bumgarner for a third straight start, and the left-hander didn't mind one bit. 

"That's definitely the fastest and easiest transition I've had with another catcher besides Buster," Bumgarner said. "The first game, it just clicked."

Perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that the partnership found smooth waters so quickly. Vogt is apparently all about speed these days. 

The 34-year-old catcher had two triples and an infield single Saturday, providing much of the energy in an exciting 8-7 win over the Brewers that was the fourth straight for the Giants. Vogt, popular in every big league stop, has quickly become a favorite of longtime Giants, including Bumgarner. 

"The guy's a ballplayer," Bumgarner said. "He's fun to watch. He gives it all he's got. Everybody really appreciates that. He's a guy that's easy to pull for."

The two triples got most the attention, but Vogt's most impactful sprint may have been the one he made in the bottom of the eighth. With runners on the corners and two outs, Vogt hit a slow roller up the middle and beat Orlando Arcia's throw to first, reaching 27.6 feet per second, his second-fastest sprint of the season. 

"I like to joke that the fastest human being on the planet is a baseball player that smells a hit," Vogt said, smiling. 

All kidding aside, those four and a half seconds told the Giants a lot about their backup catcher. After being in the squat for nearly three hours, Vogt busted it down the line, providing a necessary insurance run. Will Smith would give up a solo shot to Christian Yelich in the ninth but held on when Mike Yastrzemski made a diving catch for the final out. 

"It ended up being a huge run," Bochy said of Vogt's final hit. "In the eighth inning, for a catcher to get down there like that, that's impressive."

Vogt's day was historic in a way. He became the first Giants catcher since Steve Nicosia in 1984 to record two triples in one game and just the third catcher in the last eight years to do it. The Giants had not had a two-triple game from any player in three years. 

Vogt's first triple, just the 10th of his career, came when he lined a 2-0 fastball from former teammate and friend Jimmy Nelson off the fourth archway. The ball would have been a home run in 18 ballparks, but it ricocheted into center field and Vogt cruised into third, his helmet flying off, as Yelich chased it down. With a sprint speed of 26.4 feet per second, Vogt reached third in 12.4 seconds, a tenth of a second faster than the MLB average this season. He would score on Kevin Pillar's single. 

The second triple was a bit more traditional by the ballpark's standards, as Vogt lined a Junior Guerra splitter into Triples Alley and hustled into the bag in 12.14 seconds. Again, he scored on a Pillar single. Afterward, Vogt briefly took on a serious tone when noting that he hopes the ball won't be able to roll that far in the future. Vogt joined the chorus of players who want the bullpens moved off the field and into Triples Alley. He said it's a safety issue, pointing out that Chris Taylor toppled over a mound earlier this homestand. 

"If that's how we have to get that done, let's do it," he said. 

[RELATED: Will Smith focused despite trade rumors]

That's a conversation for the future. In the present, the Giants are just trying to put a positive stretch together. They remain eight games under .500, but this is their best run of the season, and on Sunday they have a chance to sweep a contender. 

"That's a big win," Vogt said. "A big win for us."