Look at it this way: Barry Zito was a free agent at the same time as Ted Lilly at the end of 2006. If the Giants signed Ted Lilly for a seven year, $126 million deal, everyone would have laughed at them. Since then, though, Lilly has a 3.74 ERA and 19 wins over replacement. Barry Zito has a 4.53 ERA and four wins over replacement. Now the Giants have both for almost the same price. That's what I call dealing.
SB Nation's own MLB Daily Dish broke the news that the Giants are signing former Dodger Ted Lilly to a minor-league deal. The 37-year-old left-hander has struggled with neck problems for the past two years, and he's made only five starts this season.
Here's the benefit of the awful season: The risk/reward balance is completely out of whack. The risk is that we don't get to watch Barry Zito again. The reward is that Lilly pitches pretty well, with the Giants getting first dibs on signing him in the offseason. That might not seem exciting to you, but the Giants will need to fill at least two rotation spots. Maybe three if Ryan Vogelsong doesn't look like a pitcher worth his $6.5 million option, though that's unlikely.
With all of those holes and a lackluster free-agent market, the Giants will need to get creative with at least one of the spots. A Lilly-type would make sense. It doesn't have to be the actual Lilly, mind you. But at least the Giants will get a first-hand look at the real thing.
My prediction: He has a couple good games, a few bad games, and doesn't look like a pitcher who will help the Giants next year. But his ERA+ since turning 30 is 112. It's a better risk than Brad Penny was last year, at least. This one has a slight chance to succeed. Plus, I think he's pretty cheesed off at the Dodgers. Maybe he'll wing the ball at Mattingly in a September start. Not that I advocate that sort of thing. But I most certainly would GIF it and watch it for an hour straight.