Giants sign Jeff Samardzija to five-year, $90 million deal

The Giants were a finalist for the services of Zack Greinke but lost out to the mystery team which turned out to be the Diamondbacks. Not to be deterred they made a quick turnaround signing one of their back-ups: Jeff Samardzija. That sound you hear is a few dozen Bay area writers crying out in anguish at having to learn to spell “Samardzija.” The deal is reportedly five years in length and worth $90 million, averaging a whopping $18 million per year.

Samardzija will go into his age 31 season next year and so will be signed through his age 36 season. He’s coming off a poor season with the White Sox which saw him throw 214 innings over 32 starts with a 4.96 ERA and 4.23 FIP. His 17.9 K% was one of the lowest marks of his career and his .269 BAA one of the highest. But he’s only a season separated from looking like a bonafide ace.

In 2014 with the Cubs and Athletics, Samardzija tossed 219 innings across 33 starts with a 2.99 ERA and 3.20 FIP. He had a stronger 23.0 K% and .231 BAA as well as a pretty looking 1.07 WHIP. Looking at his peripherals lends some hope. His velocity is still strong. His swinging strike rate dipped below double digits to around league average but his previous four seasons were better. So maybe he can be fixed, or maybe this down year was more of a fluke than a sign of regression.

The Giants aren’t paying him to be an ace though. Zack Greinke is making over $32 million a year and David Price is making $31 million. As noted earlier, Samardzija is making $18 million AAV. In this era of big money deals, they aren’t even really paying him to be a No. 2 starter. Jordan Zimmermann just got 5 years and $110 million. That’s $22 million AAV. Zimmermann is a No. 2 or strong No. 3 depending on who you ask. So you can think of the Shark deal as decent No. 3 caliber money. And there’s some indication that Samardzija could return to that level. I think he can be a pretty decent innings eating mid-rotation starter and he should be helped by that ballpark too.

Assuming the Giants were willing to spend close to $100 million more to sign Zack Greinke, they’re not going to be done now. Early offseason reports had them going after a starting pitcher and a left fielder. Part one of that plan is done. Now with probably another $100 million or so to spend they can set their eyes on the likes of Yoenis Cespedes, Justin Upton, or Alex Gordon as the top left fielders.

The Winter Meetings technicially begin tomorrow as everyone starts arriving in Nashville then. The Giants have started enacting their offseason plan. Now their next big target is an outfielder. I think the smart money is on them walking out of Nashville with their man. So stay tuned Giants fans, it should be a very interesting week.

About Derek Harvey

Derek Harvey is a writer The Outside Corner, a featured writer for SB Nation's Brew Crew Ball, and a staff writer for Baseball Prospectus - Milwaukee. He's taking over the world one baseball site at a time!

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