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MLB free agency: Pros, cons for Giants signing pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu

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MLB free agency: Pros, cons for Giants signing pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu

The Giants have their new general manager in Scott Harris, and are expected to announce their next manager this week. Their next move will be reshaping the roster.

San Francisco refuses to use the word "rebuild," often leaning on a "reload" instead. Harris, who was an essential part to the Cubs becoming contenders again, said at his introductory press conference Monday that the Giants' goal is to soon be competitive again after three straight losing seasons. 

But how soon? The Giants' farm system is on the rise, and they have seen the effects of having an aging roster the past few seasons. In free agency, however, they could hold onto their top prospects while also adding proven talent. 

One free agent that MLB.com's Mark Feinsand recently pegged to the Giants is a name president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi is well familiar with. Should the Giants pursue Dodgers free-agent pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu? 

Here's why the Giants should and shouldn't look to sign the veteran left-hander. 

Pros

Ryu's last two seasons are right up there with the best arms in baseball, including his teammate Clayton Kershaw and Astros stars Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, who is seen as the biggest name on the free-agent market this offseason. The veteran lefty is 21-8 with a 2.21 ERA and 1.01 WHIP the past two years.

He led all of the majors this past season with a 2.32 ERA, and his 179 ERA+ was the best in the NL. Ryu also has pin-point control and led the bigs with just 1.2 walks per nine innings. 

With longtime Giants ace Madison Bumgarner a free agent this offseason, the Giants currently are without a single left-handed pitcher in their starting rotation. Barring a trade, veteran right-handers Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija should headline the rotation, with Tyler Beede, Logan Webb and Dereck Rodriguez all as possible options. 

Ryu would be another proven veteran in the Giants' rotation, and give them a needed lefty. He also likely won't break the bank. MLB Trade Rumors predicts Ryu will sign a three-year, $54 million contract.

Cons 

While Ryu has been one of the best pitchers in baseball the last two years, 2019 also was his first time pitching at least 180 innings since 2013 when he tossed 192 as a 26-year-old rookie. 

Ryu has undergone shoulder and elbow surgeries and missed nearly all of 2015 and 2016. He pitched just 4 2/3 innings in 2016 after missing the entire 2015 season. Last season, however, he proved how dominant he can be when healthy. 

The 2019 NL All-Star is on the wrong side of 30, too. Ryu will turn 33 years old in late March, and how he ages with past arm issues could be a concern. 

San Francisco was aggressive in pushing Webb, 22, to the big leagues last season. They could have the same mindset with Sean Hjelle (23 in May) and Tristan Beck (24 in June). The Giants need to know what they have in their young arms, and paying a veteran like Ryu could get in the way. 

[RELATED: Analysts predict MadBum signs with Braves in free agency]

Zaidi knows Ryu well from his time as the Dodgers GM. Does he believe the lefty is the missing ingredient in San Francisco or will the Giants go a different route? 

It shouldn't take long for us to know now that Zaidi has his partner in Harris.

Why Farhan Zaidi is shrugging off Giants', Gabe Kapler's early hiccups

Why Farhan Zaidi is shrugging off Giants', Gabe Kapler's early hiccups

The Giants have dropped five of their last six games after losing the series opener to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night. They've committed several more errors than games played, and are the only team in the league without a quality start to this point.

Often times, it hasn't been pretty. Though San Francisco had been a pleasant surprise record-wise prior to the current road trip, the reality of the situation is that the Giants don't have a roster that you would confuse with the typical contender.

Gabe Kapler has had some slip-ups, but as president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi explained to 95.7 The Game's "Damon, Ratto and Kolsky" on Wednesday, he isn't concerned about his manager.

"He has a challenging job right now," Zaidi said, "because ... this is a lineup, a roster, a pitching staff that sort of needs to be managed pretty actively. We don't have five workhorses in the rotation who are going to throw seven innings where you just hand the ball to your setup man and your closer. He's obviously having to mix and match a lot on the pitching side, on the position player side we're trying to use the entire roster. We're platooning some, that means pinch-hitting some. 

"And when you're a manager and you have to make that many moves -- as many moves as our roster kind of behooves right now -- every time you make a move ... you're making a lot of 55/45, 60/40 bets that get scrutinized and if they don't work out, the onus kind of falls on you. ... But again, I look at some of our best wins this season and they've come from a lot of the decisions that he has made. So, we think this is the way to manage our roster that gives us the best chance to be competitive and win games, and I appreciate that he's willing to pull the trigger and be aggressive with a lot of these moves."

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Kapler's self-admitted most embarrassing mistake to date occurred in last week's extra-innings loss to the San Diego Padres in which he forgot about the new rule requiring pitchers to face a batter following a mound visit. He owned up to it immediately following the loss and shouldered the blame, which Zaidi found to be plenty satisfactory.

"What happened with going out to try to get Tyler Rogers in that extra-innings game last week," Zaidi continued, "I think he owned up to it, it was just a mental screw-up. He has been around the game a long time, had a long career and he just owned it. It was a tough inning, there was a lot of things going on. I'm sure there was a lot of stuff going on in the dugout. I just wrote that off as kind of a mental screw-up, which he owned up to and we turn the page."

[RELATED: Stat, odd moment show how poorly Samardzija has started]

Given the state of the Giants' roster and the general unprecedented gameplay in this shortened season, it's easy to see why Zaidi is willing to cut Kapler some slack and give him the benefit of the doubt. 

Kapler hasn't exactly been dealt a winning hand, and it would be a significant surprise if he turned it into one right away.

Jeff Samardzija's rough start to season displayed by stat, odd moment

Jeff Samardzija's rough start to season displayed by stat, odd moment

There's a stunning stat from Jeff Samardzija's first three starts that shows how much he's struggling right now, but perhaps in this case all you need is an exchange from the Giants' loss Friday night. 

When Samardzija grazed Dodgers utility man Kiké Hernandez to load the bases in the fifth inning, Hernandez insisted over and over again to the home plate umpire that he had not been hit by the pitch. It was a strange sight, and the Giants even challenged the call -- with no luck -- to try to send Hernandez back to the box, but it seems that it's not a good sign that he wanted to be there in the first place. 

The Dodgers were remarkably comfortable against Samardzija, who is coming off a solid year but has had a nightmare start to 2020. In a 7-2 win over the Giants, they were quiet the first time through the order, then busted out for three homers the second time through. 

Samardzija walked off the mound in the fifth with the bases loaded. For the third time in three starts, he was charged with five earned runs. 

"I think he had a little bit of a lack of fastball command," manager Gabe Kapler said. "This is a very difficult lineup to get through even if you're locating your pitches."

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

The Dodgers proved that with the three homers, which brings us to the stunning stat. In three starts, totaling just 13 2/3 innings, Samardzija has allowed six homers but struck out just five batters. Right now, he doesn't have the stuff or command to put hitters away. 

"Too many times we're getting these 0-2, 1-2 counts and battling for too long," he said. "We need to make sure that when we're getting them in the hole, we're finishing them. You give these big league hitters too many opportunities, they're going to take advantage of it. We've got to get them up and set them down as fast as possible."

Samardzija actually looked marginally better in the first three innings, getting six pop-ups and shallow fly balls. But those turned to homers the second time through, dropping the Giants into too large a deficit. The loss was their fifth in six games and put them five games behind the Rockies and 4 1/2 behind the loaded Dodgers after a little over two weeks of action. 

It won't get any better without a sharp turn from the starting pitchers, and the Giants don't have an obvious solution right now if Samardzija keeps struggling. Drew Smyly will be reevaluated when the road trip ends next Wednesday. Swingman Tyler Anderson already is needed for Smyly's spot. 

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The Giants will hope the stuff improves and the command returns for Samardzija, at least enough to make hitters look less comfortable than Hernandez did. 

"He didn't think it hit him," Samardzija said. "I told him it must have hit his jersey or something. They're all gamers over there, they all want to play. I respect those guys a lot. He's just being honest. It's a good quality."