It wasn't memories of the garlic fries or coming to a few games in high school that swayed Jake McGee to sign with the Giants over the offseason, but that certainly didn't hurt. McGee was born in San Jose and had plenty of reasons to go from being a Dodger to a Giant after winning a World Series last year.
"I had an eye on the Giants," McGee said Wednesday night to KNBR's Mark Willard. "Me and my wife, we live in Reno now and I was born in San Jose. But overall, even if the Giants were on the east coast it was a very appealing place for me.
"I know [Gabe] Kapler a little bit. Farhan [Zaidi], he was with the Dodgers, I know him a little bit. Just some familiar faces made it an easy decision."
From Kapler and Zaidi to joining former teammate Alex Wood, McGee could find a sense of comfortability in San Francisco. But he was swayed by much more than good feelings and playing near where he was born. McGee could see himself wearing a Giants jersey for every baseball reason imaginable.
The veteran lefty turns 35 years old in August. He has spent 11 seasons in the major leagues. However, he loves how young and innovative the Giants' coaching staff is.
"Before we started talking to [the Giants] a lot, I talked to Kapler on the phone and he just kind of explained how they were doing things, moving forward with analytics and using all the new technology, a lot younger coaching staff too and very forward-thinking," McGee said. "I kind of wanted to be with a team like that. That was pretty appealing to me."
Coming from the Dodgers, McGee knows the wonders of analytics and a team willing to go the extra mile to find any advantage for their players. McGee was released by the Colorado Rockies days before the regular season began last year. The Dodgers swooped in three days later and completely changed his outlook.
Over four seasons in Colorado, he had a 4.78 ERA, 1.37 WHIP and averaged just 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings. That was after six seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays where his ERA was just 2.77, his WHIP was 1.02 and he averaged 11.1 strikeouts per nine. The Dodgers noticed his slider was making him get outside the ball and he would lose four to five inches of verticality on his fastball. He then became one of the most fastball-heavy pitchers in baseball and thrived in Los Angeles.
McGee went 3-1 with a 2.66 ERA for the Dodgers in 24 games out of the bullpen. His WHIP was down to 0.84 and he struck out 14.6 batters per nine.
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Now he's taken what he learned from the Dodgers and looking to expand it to take down the Giants' biggest rival. McGee signed a two-year, $7 million contract with the Giants over the offseason and has a great chance to be Kapler's closer this year.
It's easy to see McGee's thinking help sway more free agents to San Francisco in future offseasons, and if he's successful this season, it's just another example of what Zaidi is building with this new era of Giants baseball.