Breakdown: Jeff Samardzija to the Giants

Well, it’s been quite the week for starting pitchers. Starting with David Price signing with the Boston Red Sox on Monday, three starters have signed this week.

Additionally, it’s been a busy twenty-four hours for the National League West. The Arizona Diamondbacks shocked the baseball world yesterday, by swooping in under-the-radar to sign prized free agent Zack Greinke. Today, the San Francisco Giants helped soothe the sting of missing out on Greinke, by landing former Chicago Cub starter Jeff Samardzija. Samardzija will take his talents to the Bay Area, for a total of $90 million over five years.

For the Giants, this deal makes sense for a number of reasons.

First off, San Francisco’s rotation has become pretty shaky, and unpredictable over the last three years or so. Beyond Madison Bumgarner, the Giants rolled out a rotation that included an ailing Matt Cain, an injury-prone Jake Peavy, an aging Ryan Vogelsong, and a young upstart in Chris Heston. The team had acquired Mike Leake from the Cincinnati Reds at the trade deadline, but the pending free agent opted to test his value on the market. At the very least, this signing solidifies the front-end of the rotation in San Francisco.

Secondly, the Giants were able to become the second team in 24 hours to hamper the Dodgers. Following the loss of Greinke, it was expected that the Dodgers would pursue Samardzija as a “Plan B”. Well, the Giants just made sure that didn’t come to fruition with this signing. While there’s still a number of good pitchers on the market, impact starters are beginning to fly off the board at a high-rate.

Finally, this move helps San Francisco keep pace with the Diamondbacks. Some may argue that Arizona isn’t in the Giants (or Dodgers) league at this point, but there’s no denying that the signing of Greinke makes them a legitimate threat for the division title. The Giants obviously understood what that signing meant, and quickly moved to try to counteract their division-rival’s acquisition.

Now that we’ve broken down why this is a good deal for the Giants, let’s take a look at what San Francisco fans can expect over the course of this contract.

Getting ready to turn 31 years old, this contract will take Samardzija through his age-36 season. The good thing about “Shark” though, is that he doesn’t have much tread on the tires. In his eight major-league seasons, he’s surpassed the 200-inning mark three times, while only exceeding 150 innings four times. Over the span of his career, he’s yet to cross the 1,000 inning threshold. That bodes well for the Giants. With a lower workload to this point, the Giants do not have to worry about a drastic drop-off in production. Granted, Samardzija will likely deteriorate like most pitchers do as they age. However, he’s still young enough to provide the team with three-to-four good seasons.

Samardzija has not had the best success with his previous teams. He currently owns a career .435 win percentage, and a 4.09 ERA, and has only tallied one winning season (but not as a full-time starter). However, he hasn’t been in the best position to win a ton of games. The bulk of Samardzija’s career has been spent starting for bad teams.

Many fans now wonder what is next for the Giants. According the multiple MLB insiders, the team is still very-much involved in the pursuit of Mike Leake. It was also reported earlier this afternoon, that the Giants were scheduled to meet with free-agent infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist. So, it would seem that the Giants aren’t quite finished making moves yet, and any additional moves look to be potentially significant.

With two division-rivals making major signings within twenty-four hours of each other, it’ll be very interesting to see how the Dodgers react. Reports have linked them to Johnny Cueto, but it’s yet to be seen if anything materializes out of those reports. Nonetheless, the past two days have made one thing perfectly clear: the NL West looks to be a wide-open, yet very competitive division in 2016.


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