Giants

Source: Giants, Jeff Samardzija agree to terms on five-year deal

samardzija-jeff-white-pumped-up.jpg

Source: Giants, Jeff Samardzija agree to terms on five-year deal

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants moved quickly after missing out on Zack Greinke, agreeing to terms Saturday morning on a five-year, $90 million deal with right-hander Jeff Samardzija, CSNBayArea.com has learned. The deal is pending a physical, which will be taken Tuesday.

While Samardzija is coming off a down season with the Chicago White Sox, the Giants see plenty of reasons to believe he’ll bounce back and give them a strong No. 2 behind Madison Bumgarner. The 30-year-old had a 4.96 ERA last season but he’s just a year removed from posting a 2.99 ERA across 219 2/3 innings for the Cubs and A’s.

The Giants are attracted to that durability, as Bumgarner is their only pitcher to throw a 200-inning season since 2012. Samardjiza has topped 213 for three consecutive seasons, and because he wasn’t a full-time starter until 2012 he doesn’t come with the usual wear-and-tear of a free agent pitcher. 

General manager Bobby Evans said the pitcher nicknamed “Shark” is “a horse” when it comes to workload.

“Even in tough times (last year) he still put 200-plus innings on the board,” Evans said. “You look at his track record, you look at his presence that he brings on the mound, you look at back-to-back-to-back 200-plus (inning) seasons, and you realize this guy is a force to be reckoned with. There’s a reason why we targeted him and a reason why we focused on him as one of our top priorities.

“You’ve got a guy who has made the conversion from reliever to starter and has done that well. There are a lot of innings left in that arm.”

The Giants believe Samardzija’s 2015 numbers may have been partially skewed by the fact that he was pitching for his third team in two seasons, and they have identified mechanical adjustments they can make to a guy who has the tools to be an ace. Samardzija, a former football star at Notre Dame, is listed at 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, throwing a fastball that averaged 94.3 mph last season and topped out at 97.9. The Giants believe they can harness that kind of electric stuff, and they have one of the best pitching coaches in the game in Dave Righetti.

The main reason the Giants believe in Samardzija could have nothing to do with the right-hander himself. A year ago, Samardjiza pitched in front of the worst defense in MLB, according to advanced statistics compiled by FanGraphs.com. Now he’ll pitch in front of Brandon Crawford, Matt Duffy, Joe Panik, Brandon Belt and the rest of the best statistical defense in the National League. For a pitcher who got grounders 50 percent of the time in his best season, that switch should provide a major boost. 

Samardzija also goes from a team that non-tendered its catcher and overhauled the position to one that has a Gold Glove finalist, Buster Posey, behind the plate.

The Giants made Samarzjiza a priority when the offseason started, pushing hard from the start of November. He was one of three pitchers to visit San Francisco last month, along with Jordan Zimmermann and Zack Greinke. Once the other two went off the board, the Giants wasted little time locking up their new No. 2.

Samardzija got the same five-year, $90 million deal Hunter Pence signed in 2013. The deal includes a $9 million signing bonus, with $3 million paid upfront and the rest spread out. Essentially, he’ll make $12 million in 2016 and $19.5 million each of the next four seasons. Samardzija also got a limited no-trade clause that allows him to pick eight teams each season that he can be traded to.

The Giants have now spent $165 million this offseason on Samardzija and Crawford, and they’re not done. They’re still looking to add another starting pitcher and touched base with Mike Leake on Saturday, but Leake likely will find a better deal elsewhere. The Giants don’t seem inclined to give the Samardzija deal to another pitcher this winter, and Evans will scour the trade market. He now has the luxury of waiting for the price to come down on other free agents, knowing that if Samardzija is the only pitching addition, the Giants still have Chris Heston and Clayton Blackburn available for the No. 5 spot in the rotation.

“As the market has unfolded over the last 10 days, it’s been helpful to put a significant piece into our rotation,” Evans said. “It is refreshing, especially again given the relative priority that our pitching staff requires.”

The Giants will also look for left field help, and there are plenty of options still available for a team that’s all-in on 2016.  The Samardzija move costs the Giants their first-round pick since he turned down a qualifying offer from the White Sox.

“There are a number of different directions that we can move,” Evans said. “I don’t necessarily want to project our next move to be any one thing. I think pitching is still a possibility, as are other moves. We’re going to keep our eyes on multiple targets from a trade and creative perspective. Time will tell, but we’re open-minded about it.”

The one move that didn’t happen came Friday, when the Arizona Diamondbacks shocked the baseball world by giving Greinke a $206 million deal. It was thought that the Giants and Dodgers were the last teams remaining as Greinke approached a decision. Evans said the Diamondbacks got an “excellent starter” and a “top-end of the rotation” guy.

“They went to great lengths to get him,” Evans said. “They’ll benefit from his experience and his consistency and, really, a guy that’s a difference maker.”

Did the Giants at least consider it a victory that Greinke left the Dodgers?

“The reality is we’re still going to face him the same number of times,” Evans said. “Victory would have been the American League … or Japan.”

 

Pablo Sandoval gives Giants a fourth walk-off win in six days

usatsi_13089350.jpg
USATSI

Pablo Sandoval gives Giants a fourth walk-off win in six days

SAN FRANCISCO -- Bruce Bochy started to get up from the podium, and then stopped and flashed a wry smile. 

"You guys like extra-inning games?" he said, looking out at reporters. "You've come to the right place."

Welcome to Oracle Park, where a ticket gets you a seat with a nice view, a chance to buy an $18 beer, and a strong guarantee of a few extra minutes or hours of baseball. Oh, and there's one more thing. You're very, very likely to leave cheering. 

For the 17th time in 20 games, the Giants walked out of the ballpark as winners. This time it was 5-4 over the Cubs. This time they played 13 innings. This time the hero was Pablo Sandoval. The details change, but the end result never does. 

"It wasn't, 'Gosh, I hope we're going to win this game," starter Madison Bumgarner said. "I feel like everyone knew we were going to win. It was just, when is it going to happen."

Bumgarner has had two strong outings on this homestand totaling 16 innings, but he has had to wait quite a while for the team to get an end result. The Giants have played 29 innings in those two games, but the ace hasn't minded one bit. At the very least, he has been guaranteed a bit more time with teammates, and right now he might not have to worry anyway. 

Tuesday's start should have had the feel of a finale, and at certain points it did. Bumgarner received a bit more warmth from the crowd of nearly 40,000, and some fans brought signs begging management to keep this group together. "Please don't do it, Mr. Zaidi," read one that was put up behind the plate repeatedly. But as he has done for weeks, Bumgarner focused on the play of the team, not the potential of the trade deadline. 

He said this team reminds him of the 2016 club, which was the best in baseball through the first half. Sandoval dropped a 2014 Giants comparison on the clubhouse. Those are lofty comparisons, but right now it's hard to argue. 

The Giants simply find a different hero every night, no matter what the prior circumstances. They have four walk-off wins in their past six games, and Sandoval was as unlikely a hero as any of them. 

The third baseman has slowed his scorching pace in recent days, and on Tuesday he hit into double-plays in two of his first four at-bats. He grounded out five times before coming up in the bottom of the 13th, and yet he found the bat speed and loft to muscle a game-winner out to left field. 

"I was thinking to myself, I'm a better hitter than that," he said. "I was trying to think of the things I worked on in the offseason and early in the season when I was driving the ball the other way."

Sandoval's blast couldn't have come at a better time. The pitching staff already was gassed after a road trip through Milwaukee and Denver, and these past six games have put a heavy load on the bullpen in particular. Bochy was trying to stay away from Sam Dyson and Trevor Gott, so it was Sam Coonrod in the 13th and the rookie got through Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. Coonrod had one more inning and then Bochy would have broken the glass on Drew Pomeranz, who pitched two innings Monday. 

That wasn't needed. Sandoval freed Pomeranz up to run and find the Alhambra jug that Derek Holland made such a big part of walk-off celebrations.

"It's somebody different every day it seems like," Bochy said of Sandoval. "He came through for us when we needed it." 

Watch Pablo Sandoval smack walk-off home run to push Giants over Cubs

Watch Pablo Sandoval smack walk-off home run to push Giants over Cubs

Another game, another walk-off win.

The Giants kept the good times rolling Tuesday night after Pablo Sandoval delivered a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 13th inning to beat the Cubs 5-4 at Oracle Park.

On the first pitch of the at-bat, Sandoval lined a solo shot to the opposite field off Cubs reliever Brad Brach. It was a nice way for the Kung Fu Panda to redeem himself, after he had gone hitless in five at-bats earlier in the night.

Sandoval's clutch homer makes it 17 wins for the Giants in their last 20 games, and gives them four extra-inning walk-off wins in a six-game span. They're also now a season-best two games above .500, and just two games out of a playoff spot.

Rookie Sam Coonrod got the win for San Francisco, after he pitched a scoreless inning against the heart of Chicago's order in the top of the 13th.