Giants

Farhan Zaidi reveals how Kevin Gausman, Drew Smyly fit with Giants

Giants

The Giants still have former All-Stars Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija in their rotation. There's no hiding from the fact that Madison Bumgarner is gone, though.

When it comes to San Francisco's offseason strategy, however, it was Drew Pomeranz who might have come to mind more than MadBum. 

With young, unproven options behind the two veterans, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has been looking for arms who can help his team at the start of games or out of the bullpen. He found two such pitchers in Kevin Gausman and Drew Smyly. 

"What we're looking for is guys that bring flexibility to the pitching staff. So these are both guys who have been good starters at times in their careers," Zaidi told KNBR's Larry Krueger on Monday. "They've also both pitched in relief and I think both guys have the potential to be impact relievers if they wind up in that role." 

The Giants signed Gausman at the Winter Meetings on a one-year, $9 million contract. Manager Gabe Kapler made it clear Gausman would start off in the rotation, but it was the bullpen where the former top draft pick thrived last season. 

Gausman, who recently turned 29 years old, spent time with the Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds last season. He made 16 starts for the Braves and only one as a Red. The veteran right-hander went 3-8 with a 6.37 ERA and 1.49 WHIP over 17 starts. In 14 games as a reliever, he was 0-1 with a 3.10 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. 

 

Smyly, who missed the 2017 and 2018 seasons with arm injuries, pitched in 25 games last season -- 21 starts, four relief appearances -- between the Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies. He was much better as a starter (5.69 ERA vs. 9.56) and hasn't consistently pitched out of the 'pen since 2013. 

The Giants signed Smyly a one-year, $4 million contract, and he posted a 3.65 ERA in five September starts for Kapler's Phillies last year. The lefty also averaged 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings in Philly. 

"We see both guys starting in the rotation, but just the fact that they can transition from one role to another and impact the team in different ways ... we've obviously got some young starting pitchers -- guys like Tyler Beede and Logan Webb, who may not start the year at the big league level but certainly we see making starts for us," Zaidi told Krueger. 

"Guys that have that kind of flexibility were really appealing to us as we look at different pitching options on the market," he added 

[RELATED: Three Giants prospects make Baseball America's top 100]

While the Giants have a plethora of options in their rotation, they still don't have a closer after Will Smith joined the Atlanta Braves this offseason. Could Gausman be an option? 

Zaidi believes if Gausman ever was thrown into that spot, he could be an "elite" ninth-inning arm. But don't expect that to happen right away.

"I think he could be at some point this year," Zaidi said. "He wants the opportunity to start and have room in the rotation, at least to start the year. And with some of those younger guys, I think we do want to manage their workloads a little bit."

Giants pitchers and catchers report to spring training on Feb. 12. We're exactly three weeks away, where questions will start to turn to answers.