Free-agent reliever Affeldt signs two-year deal with Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- Jeremy Affeldt had considered looking for a job as a closer this offseason. Then San Francisco offered a contract the reliever couldn't pass up.

Affeldt became the first of the 171 players who filed for free agency to agree to a contract, striking an $8 million, two-year deal Monday with the Giants -- a team that has wanted him for two years.

"One of the things is they didn't mess around too much. That's what my agent, Mike Moye, and I were really impressed with," Affeldt said. "They came in with an offer, and it was really close to what we were looking for. The negotiation was pretty quick. They were definitely on an A-list for me. They were really wanting to get me and bring me in to help out."

One of Giants general manager Brian Sabean's offseason priorities was to bolster his club's inconsistent bullpen. The Giants, who haven't reached the playoffs since 2003, often had problems in the middle innings between starters and closer Brian Wilson.

Affeldt's role is yet to be determined, though San Francisco's brass likes that he can pitch multiple innings.

"I'm thrilled to have Jeremy," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's going to make our 'pen that much stronger. I've seen him from the other side and never liked him with his power arm. He's resilient. Jeremy is just getting in his prime."

The 29-year-old Affeldt pitched for the Cincinnati Reds last season, going 1-1 with a 3.33 ERA in a team-leading 74 appearances. He struck out 80 and walked 25 in 78 1/3 innings. The 6-foot-4 Affeldt, originally drafted by Kansas City in the third round in 1997, recorded a 2.23 ERA in his final 34 outings of 2008.

Affeldt was part of the Colorado Rockies team that won the NL pennant in 2007 and reached the World Series.

He gets a $1 million signing bonus, $3 million next year and $4 million in 2010.

The price for veteran lefty relievers appears to have been established by this deal along with Damaso Marte's $12 million, three-year contract with the New York Yankees last week.

Asked whether Affeldt's side pushed for the signing bonus to beat a possible tax increase, Sabean wouldn't comment directly.

"Suffice to say, both parties worked to justify the means," he said.

Affeldt felt this was a good fit, and it doesn't hurt that he lives in Spokane, Wash., so he'll be much closer to home -- and to his 15-month-old son, Walker.

He said he has matured as a pitcher the past two seasons, especially going through the highs of the World Series with the Rockies and learning how to get the big outs.

The Giants want to get back to their winning ways.

"It's a very good place to play and I know that division is up for grabs," Affeldt said. "I look forward to helping this team fight for a playoff spot."

The Giants' relievers posted a 4.45 ERA to finish tied for 14th place in the National League, giving up 62 home runs for the third-most in the NL while pitching the fourth-fewest innings at 487 1-3.

"His addition is certainly going to be welcome to everybody concerned," Sabean said. "We were aggressive. We had a short list of people. ... Resume wise, he's characteristic of a guy who's come into his own since he moved into the bullpen. He's comfortable in the bullpen. The biggest thing, given his age and all he's done in his career, he's still got youth on his side."