Giants

Will Giants take shot at Nathan Eovaldi, another risky starting pitcher?

Will Giants take shot at Nathan Eovaldi, another risky starting pitcher?

SAN FRANCISCO — Generally, there are two types of starting pitchers: Those who have been hurt, and those who will get hurt.

That’s just the reality of pitching, and despite the risks, just about every team will dive into the starting pitching market this offseason. It’s just too hard to have a fully homegrown rotation. Even when he was with the Dodgers -- a player development powerhouse over the past decade -- new Giants head of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi occasionally gave out tens of millions to starting pitchers.

The Dodgers tried to mitigate some of the risk by signing veterans to shorter contracts, but even that was a mixed bag.

Scott Kazmir signed a three-year, $48 million deal after the 2015 season and made just 26 starts for the Dodgers. Brandon McCarthy got that much over four years, and he made double-digit starts only once over the next three seasons. Rich Hill signed for — you guessed it — $48 million over three years and has pitched well, although the Dodgers have at times managed his workload.

[PAVLOVIC: Machado doesn't fit with Giants even if they clear infield space]

Zaidi might change his methods now that he’s in San Francisco, but in Los Angeles, the front office certainly had a type. Zaidi and Andrew Friedman were not afraid to take risks on older players, knowing they had the rotation depth to make up for injuries. At the same time, they shied away from the massive contracts, which lessened the blow a bit when those guys got hurt.

This year’s list of free agents presents some guys who would fit that mold. J.A. Happ and Charlie Morton are on the high end of that market in terms of talent, and guys like Gio Gonzalez and Anibal Sanchez should fit the “two-year contract” mold. Perhaps a marquee starter like Dallas Keuchel will find the market to be unexpectedly cold.

There’s one guy, though, who fits right in with McCarthy, Hill and Kazmir in terms of risk and reward.

Nathan Eovaldi is a late bloomer who twice has had Tommy John surgery. At the same time, he’s just 28 years old, his fastball averages 97 mph, and he was one of the stars of the Red Sox's run to a World Series title.

[PAVLOVIC: How Giants could/should use Harper contract money in free agency]

Eovaldi checks off a lot of those boxes that made guys like Hill attractive to the Dodgers. When Eovaldi is right, he’s dominant, and he certainly showed in the postseason that he’s a selfless teammate -- something that’s important to Zaidi and to the holdovers in the Giants' front office.

The Giants could look at the health concerns in a couple of ways. They have the starting depth — with the emergence of Dereck Rodriguez and Andrew Suarez — to monitor someone like Eovaldi closely and try to maximize his performance without running him out there 33 times. On the other hand, the Giants have a $130 million starter (Johnny Cueto) on the shelf, and they’re unsure of what they’ll get from a $90 million starter (Jeff Samardzija). Any pitcher with Eovaldi’s injury history might scare them off from the start.

With the Dodgers, Zaidi wasn’t scared off by injuries. They took big swings to try to add rotation depth, and Eovaldi certainly would fit with Zaidi’s past pursuits.

Editor's note: This week across the NBC Sports Regional Networks, we'll be taking an in-depth look at some of the top free agents in baseball. Thursday is dedicated to free agent pitcher Nathan Eovaldi.

Will Phillies be in the mix for Nate Eovaldi?
How Eovaldi set himself up for big payday, possibly from Nationals
How does Eovaldi fit the White Sox?
Is Eovaldi too expensive for A's?

MLB rumors: Jerry Blevins signs minor league contract with Giants

MLB rumors: Jerry Blevins signs minor league contract with Giants

The Giants have signed veteran left-handed reliver Jerry Blevins to a minor-league contract, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported Monday night, citing a source.

The deal includes an invitation to major-league camp, Rosenthal reported.

Blevins responded to Rosenthal's tweet, all but confirming the news.

Blevins has pitched parts of 13 seasons with four different teams. He's spent time with the A's, Nationals, Mets and Braves.

Last season with Atlanta, the 36-year-old posted a 3.90 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 32.1 innings over 45 appearances.

Blevins appears to be another low-risk, high-reward signing by the Giants' front office. If he makes the team out of spring training and shows that he has value, he could be a prime trade candidate ahead of the July 31 trade deadline.

[RELATED: Who starts for Giants on opening day?]

If Farhan Zaidi and Scott Harris can turn Blevins into a future asset, this will look like another stealthy move.

How Antoan Richardson's journey to Giants' staff showed his perseverance

How Antoan Richardson's journey to Giants' staff showed his perseverance

Antoan Richardson was drafted by the Giants in 2005, spent five seasons in the organization as a prospect, and returned last year to be a minor league instructor. But he still will be a fresh face to nearly all of the players when he walks into the clubhouse next month.

It helps to come into that situation with some background in the majors, and Richardson will enter every conversation with two pretty cool highlights in his back pocket.

A speedy outfielder who reached the big leagues with the Braves and Yankees, Richardson notched his first career hit when he poked a single to right off Clayton Kershaw. In one of his final big league games, Richardson raced home from second, beating a strong throw from Baltimore's Nick Markakis to give Derek Jeter a walk-off single in his final at-bat at Yankee Stadium.

Those highlights are nice conversation starters, but what really will stand out as the Giants get to know their new first base coach is a trait that has defined his career: Perseverance. 

Those career highlights came three years apart, as Richardson got four at-bats for the Braves in 2011 as a 27-year-old and then bounced around Double-A and Triple-A before the Yankees called him up in September of 2014. For Richardson, there was never any doubt that he would keep going through those lean years. 

"I come from the Bahamas, it's a small country and I think a lot of my motivation is the people of the Bahamas and recognizing that when you take on a responsibility like this, a responsibility to get to the Major Leagues, there are people that put you in the spotlight," Richardson said last week. "I think continuing to not give up and continuing to pursue things and inspire others and be inspired by others is what kept me going and it's continued to keep me going."

Richardson was beating the odds long before he slid headfirst across the plate as Yankee Stadium erupted. He signed with the Giants as a 35th round pick out of Vanderbilt and was one of just seven players from that class (highlighted by Sergio Romo) to ever suit up in the big leagues. Years before that, Richardson kept pushing after he was cut from his seventh-grade fast-pitch softball team in the Bahamas. 

"You know what it is? It's life, right?" Richardson said, laughing. "Life is going to throw you so many challenges and some of them aren't going to be fun, but you've got to keep going.

"I always tell the story of the buffalo. The buffalo, whenever a storm comes, the buffalo knows that at some point he's going to be on the other side of it. So that's kind of the way I look at it. Whenever the storm comes, keep walking. It feels like forever but at some point you'll be on the other end of it."

Richardson, 36, was one of the last additions to a young staff that will try to lead the Giants out of their current storm. He finished his career in Triple-A with the Dodgers at a time when Farhan Zaidi was the team's general manager and Gabe Kapler was the director of player development, but he didn't know them personally until he met with Kapler at the Winter Meetings last month. Richardson was there to speak at an MLB diversity event.

Less than a month later, the Giants announced that he would be their new first base coach

Kapler said Richardson stood out during the interview process for being thoughtful, introspective and good at self-evaluation.  

“As I was going through my own interview process, I reconnected with Antoan and learned how impactful he is at creating and building a culture dedicated to open communication,” Kapler said. “He brings energy, enthusiasm and excitement to the clubhouse. He’s inquisitive and asks why.

"What 'AR' doesn’t already know about outfield play and baserunning, he’ll go find out. Baserunning is going to be a major point of emphasis for us this year, and Antoan will help everyone on the team improve.”

Richardson’s rise, like so many on this current staff, was meteoric. He was an outfield coordinator in the minors for the Toronto Blue Jays but came back to the Giants last offseason to be a field coordinator for their farm system. He roved throughout the system, overseeing on-field instruction, baserunning, outfield and infield work everywhere from the team's facility in the Dominican Republic to Triple-A Sacramento.

[RELATED: Why Giants' hitting coach compares rebuild to 49ers' rise]

While Richardson is somewhat familiar to many of the team's prospects, he has just one day of experience with the current big leaguers. When previous first base coach Jose Alguacil attended his son’s graduation in June, Richardson was called up to do the job for a day.

He had walked past Oracle Park as a prospect and marveled at the size and look of the place. When Richardson joined Bruce Bochy’s staff for a day, he didn’t take it for granted. Richardson spent some time talking to fellow Vanderbilt alums Tyler Beede and Mike Yastrzemski and then got to work trying to find something that would give the Giants an edge that day. 

The cameo ended up being a preview of a major career move. 

“That was a really cool day,” Richardson said. “I remember Pablo (Sandoval) hit a home run and almost hit my hand off my body when he was coming around first base. And then we won the game, right, so I got to give a high five at the end of that, so that was cool.”