SAN FRANCISCO -- For years, the Giants have tried to use Oracle Park as a selling point for free agent pitchers, and Farhan Zaidi talked about embracing that strategy when he was hired last fall. So it stood out when Zaidi signed Pomeranz a couple months later and said during an introductory conference call that Pomeranz and his agents were the ones who pushed for the deal to be just one year.
“It was important to get a one-year deal and reposition himself in free agency,” Zaidi said in January. “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.”
Pomeranz did end up cashing in as a free agent, but not quite in the way either side expected when he signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal in late January to join the Giants' rotation. Pomeranz agreed to a four-year deal with the San Diego Padres on Wednesday that will guarantee him $34 million, per Robert Murray of The Athletic.
He got that big deal not because the Giants plopped him down in Oracle Park, but because they moved him to the bullpen. As a starter, Pomeranz was a DFA candidate with a 6.10 ERA. But the Giants moved him to the bullpen on July 22 and Pomeranz showed enough in four scoreless appearances that Zaidi was able to flip him to the Brewers for Mauricio Dubon, who should be his starting second baseman next year.
Pomeranz struck out eight batters in 5 1/3 relief innings before the trade and then whiffed 45 in 26 1/3 innings for the Brewers. The big difference was velocity. Pomeranz was sitting 91-92 and maxing out at 94 as a starter most nights. In shorter stints, he regularly hit 96-97.
The velocity and strikeout rate set Pomeranz up as one of the better relievers on the market, and the Padres jumped on their former starter, hoping he can be part of a lockdown bullpen for a team that expects to contend and has been plenty busy this week.
It was a wild ride for Pomeranz, but in the end, he got that big deal that he was hoping for all along -- and the Giants got plenty out of the transaction, too. Dubon was a hell of a return for a few promising relief outings from Pomeranz, and that experience should bolster their belief that they should take a few more shots on pitching lottery tickets this offseason.