The San Francisco Giants are putting a lot of money into a couple of pitchers who aren’t necessarily the surest things, though the potential for greatness certainly exists.
Johnny Cueto joins Jeff Samardzija in a significantly tweaked Giants rotation after agreeing to a six-year, $130 million deal. Cueto won a World Series with the Royals in 2015, though he was very shaky down the stretch.
Quality pitcher, but one with a lot of innings
Cueto has been among baseball’s best pitchers the last five seasons, ranking in the top five in ERA, opponents’ OPS and WHIP in that span.
However, Cueto’s 3.44 ERA and .675 opponents’ OPS in 2015 were both his worst in a regular season since 2010. He posted a 4.76 ERA down the stretch with the Royals, a sharp contrast to his 2.62 ERA in 19 starts with the Reds.
The Giants rotation, if kept healthy, could be pretty steady for awhile. The Giants now have the top three pitchers (Bumgarner, Cueto and Samardzija) in their starting rotation signed through at least the end of the 2017 season. Bumgarner also has team options at a very reasonable $12 million for 2018 and 2019.
As the chart on the right notes, the Giants were hugely in need of starting rotation depth behind Bumgarner.
Big money isn’t what it used to be
With Cueto getting $130 million and Jeff Samardzija receiving $90 million, the Giants have signed free agents to combined contracts with a value of more than $200 million for the second time in team history. The other instance was in the 2006-2007 offseason, when their big signing was left-handed pitcher Barry Zito (seven years for $126 million).
The Giants are the first team in major-league history to sign two pitchers to free-agentcontracts worth at least $90 million in the same offseason.
We$t is best (or at least wealthiest)
NL West teams have now promised more than $500 million to pitching this offseason. The rest of the NL combined has signed pitchers to deals worth just over $80 million.
Did you know?
The three pitchers who have signed the biggest contracts this offseason all previously had great success against the teams with which they signed (and yes, they’re excellent pitchers, but in each case, there’s an aspect of them being at their very best).
Cueto is 3-1 with a 2.08 ERA in six regular-season starts against the Giants. His 1.69 ERA at AT&T Park is the best of any ballpark in which he's made multiple starts.
Zack Greinke is 7-0 with a 1.19 ERA in the last three seasons against the Diamondbacks (7-3, 3.29 ERA versus them for his career). He has an 0.65 ERA in his last six starts at Chase Field.
Price is 11-6 with 3.08 ERA against the Red Sox, but more notably he went 6-1 with a 1.95 ERA against them at Fenway Park, his best ERA in any ballpark he's started in more than once.