This is a risk. This is a huge risk. The Giants have reportedly signed right-hander Jeff Samardzija to a five-year deal, worth a reported $90 million. There is potential reward with this deal. But there is also plenty of risk.
The Giants were hot and heavy with Zack Greinke because he's excellent, with an ERA under 2.00 last year. Samardzija led the American League in earned runs last year, which is sort of the opposite of that. Or exactly the opposite of that. If Samardzija didn't allow an earned run in his 20 starts after June 7, he still would have had a higher ERA on the season than Greinke.
But the Giants are buying Samardzija's arm and his latent potential. WHICH SEEMS RISKY. He throws hard, though, and he's missed bats for quite a while. The one time he got to pitch in a pitcher-friendly park, he was an All-Star. Last year he had two things going against him: a lousy park to pitch in and a miserable defense behind him. He also had one of the better strike-stealing catchers in the league, supposedly, so he won't get an immediate Posey bump.
The $18 million isn't necessarily the scary part. If you figure that an average starter is getting $14 million or so these days (look at Brett Anderson, for one example), you can justify the $4 million maybe-he's-better tax on top of that. It's the five-year commitment that scares me. It's a long time for an enigmatic pitcher. Aaron Rowand was on a five-year deal, for perspective. That was a long, long contract.
The Giants didn't want to get caught without a pitcher, though. They needed at least one starter to make themselves feel comfortable heading into the Winter Meetings, and now they'll have at least a little leverage with the rest of the field. According to Chris Cotillo, the Giants are already working to secure their next pitcher.
Point of order: for some reason it helps me to think of the movie Letters from Iwo Jima when trying to spell Samardzija's name because of the i-j-a ordering. Maybe that will help you, too. I live to give.
The Giants will give up their first-round draft pick for Samardzija, but everyone should have been expecting that already. It'll be their first lost pick in the first round since 2005, and they'll probably boost their efforts on the international market over the next few months to make up for it. I hope.
Jeff Samardzija, weird Randy Johnson/Tim Lincecum-hybrid-looking dude and hard thrower, is now on the Giants. You were hoping for Zack Greinke. Here's ... not that. But don't get too down. There is upside, here. Risky, risky upside, but upside nonetheless. Madison Bumgarner, Samardzija, Jake Peavy, Matt Cain, and _______ is your rotation for next year. When that blank gets filled in, we'll have a much better idea of how loudly we need to wail or cheer.