Drew Smyly

Farhan Zaidi reveals how Kevin Gausman, Drew Smyly fit with Giants

Farhan Zaidi reveals how Kevin Gausman, Drew Smyly fit with Giants

The Giants still have former All-Stars Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija in their rotation. There's no hiding from the fact that Madison Bumgarner is gone, though.

When it comes to San Francisco's offseason strategy, however, it was Drew Pomeranz who might have come to mind more than MadBum. 

With young, unproven options behind the two veterans, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has been looking for arms who can help his team at the start of games or out of the bullpen. He found two such pitchers in Kevin Gausman and Drew Smyly. 

"What we're looking for is guys that bring flexibility to the pitching staff. So these are both guys who have been good starters at times in their careers," Zaidi told KNBR's Larry Krueger on Monday. "They've also both pitched in relief and I think both guys have the potential to be impact relievers if they wind up in that role." 

The Giants signed Gausman at the Winter Meetings on a one-year, $9 million contract. Manager Gabe Kapler made it clear Gausman would start off in the rotation, but it was the bullpen where the former top draft pick thrived last season. 

Gausman, who recently turned 29 years old, spent time with the Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds last season. He made 16 starts for the Braves and only one as a Red. The veteran right-hander went 3-8 with a 6.37 ERA and 1.49 WHIP over 17 starts. In 14 games as a reliever, he was 0-1 with a 3.10 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. 

Smyly, who missed the 2017 and 2018 seasons with arm injuries, pitched in 25 games last season -- 21 starts, four relief appearances -- between the Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies. He was much better as a starter (5.69 ERA vs. 9.56) and hasn't consistently pitched out of the 'pen since 2013. 

The Giants signed Smyly a one-year, $4 million contract, and he posted a 3.65 ERA in five September starts for Kapler's Phillies last year. The lefty also averaged 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings in Philly. 

"We see both guys starting in the rotation, but just the fact that they can transition from one role to another and impact the team in different ways ... we've obviously got some young starting pitchers -- guys like Tyler Beede and Logan Webb, who may not start the year at the big league level but certainly we see making starts for us," Zaidi told Krueger. 

"Guys that have that kind of flexibility were really appealing to us as we look at different pitching options on the market," he added 

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While the Giants have a plethora of options in their rotation, they still don't have a closer after Will Smith joined the Atlanta Braves this offseason. Could Gausman be an option? 

Zaidi believes if Gausman ever was thrown into that spot, he could be an "elite" ninth-inning arm. But don't expect that to happen right away.

"I think he could be at some point this year," Zaidi said. "He wants the opportunity to start and have room in the rotation, at least to start the year. And with some of those younger guys, I think we do want to manage their workloads a little bit."

Giants pitchers and catchers report to spring training on Feb. 12. We're exactly three weeks away, where questions will start to turn to answers.

Giants sign pitcher Drew Smyly to one-year contract, add rotation depth

Giants sign pitcher Drew Smyly to one-year contract, add rotation depth

Last January, the Giants signed lefties Derek Holland and Drew Pomeranz to one-year contracts, with mixed results. This year, Drew Smyly is the lefty joining the rotation mix. 

The Giants announced Thursday that they've signed Smyly to a one-year, $4 million big league contract. Right-hander Trevor Oaks, claimed from the Kansas City Royals earlier this offseason, was DFA'd to clear a 40-man roster spot. Smyly can make an additional $3 million on bonuses tied to starting pitching and $1 million in reliever bonuses. He'll get a $250,000 bonus if he's on the opening day roster.

Smyly, 30, spent last season with Gabe Kapler's Philadelphia Phillies, posting a 4.45 ERA in 12 starts but averaging more than a strikeout per inning. He'll immediately join a crowded race to be in the Opening Day starting rotation, and he has a leg up simply because of the arm he throws with. The Giants are extremely right-handed on the roster, and Smyly joins Tyler Anderson as lefties who could help break up Jeff Samardzija, Johnny Cueto, Kevin Gausman, Tyler Beede, Logan Webb and others. Anderson currently is rehabbing from a knee injury. 

Smyly has bounced around the American League for most of his career, and he put up good numbers before Tommy John surgery derailed him in 2017. Smyly had a 3.53 ERA in three years in Detroit and a 3.93 ERA in three seasons with the Rays. He was a good enough young pitcher that at one point he was included in a deal for David Price, but Smyly has struggled to stay in a rotation since having elbow surgery. 

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Smyly didn't pitch in the big leagues in 2017 or 2018 and had 13 rocky appearances for the Texas Rangers in 2019. He was released by the Rangers and Milwaukee Brewers before catching on in Philadelphia, where he was a solid rotation piece down the stretch and posted a 3.65 ERA in five September starts.

The Giants had been looking for left-handed help, and Smyly should find himself with the same opportunity Pomeranz and Holland were given last year. Both started the season in the rotation and eventually ended up in the bullpen. Pomeranz turned into a nice trade chip, bringing Mauricio Dubon to San Francisco at the deadline.