Giants

Giants make bet on Kevin Gausman's upside, add him to rotation mix

Giants

SAN DIEGO -- On the first day of the MLB Winter Meetings, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said he was confident his team would leave San Diego with another starting pitcher. He didn't wait much longer to get that done. 

The Giants signed right-hander Kevin Gausman to a one-year contract Tuesday that will pay the 29-year-old $9 million and includes another $1 million in performance bonuses for games started. Gausman, 29, pitched both in the rotation and out of the bullpen last season for the Braves and Reds, but manager Gabe Kapler said the Giants signed Gausman to fill a rotation spot.

"The work that he did in the Cincinnati bullpen was exciting to all of us," Kapler said Tuesday. "Specifically, he brought back his slider, but he really started to execute his fastball and attack the strike zone and he had success."

The Giants are hopeful those adjustments can now carry over to starting. Gausman was the fourth overall pick by the Orioles in the 2012 MLB Draft but has never quite lived up to that hype. He has a 4.30 ERA in 191 career games but has had stretches of sustained dominance. 

When he was acquired by the Braves in 2018, Gausman posted a 2.87 ERA in 10 starts down the stretch. He struggled at the start of 2019 but found new life in the Cincinnati bullpen in the second half, with a 4.03 ERA in 15 appearances and 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings. 

 

Zaidi said Gausman is someone the Giants tried to acquire last year, and that Scott Harris and Kapler had both liked him at their previous spots. 

"He's obviously been a starter his whole career and that's obviously a need of ours, too," Zaidi said. 

Zaidi said the Giants are still discussing deals with other rotation options, but for now, Gausman joins a group that includes Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Tyler Beede, Logan Webb and Tyler Anderson, the lone left-hander of that collection. 

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The Giants hope they can unlock something in Gausman and get him to a consistent point as a starter. But if that doesn't work, they already have the blueprint.

Drew Pomeranz was signed to a one-year deal last offseason but pitched his way out of the rotation. When his velocity ticked up in the bullpen, Zaidi flipped him for Mauricio Dubon.