The San Francisco Giants have officially announced the signing of left-handed starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz to a one-year major league contract. The deal, as reported by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, is worth $1.5 million, but Pomeranz can max out at $5 million with incentives.
The signing of Pomeranz, 30, helps move San Francisco towards the 7-8 pitcher depth that President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi said he hopes to achieve before the season begins. Given Jeff Samardzija’s progress in his throwing program, the rotation would likely shake out to include Madison Bumgarner, Samardzija, Derek Holland, Dereck Rodriguez and Andrew Suarez, but Pomeranz will be in the mix, Zaidi said.
“In this day and age, I think teams like to have at least seven or eight guys that you feel can start a Major League game for you, and feel like they put you in good position to win the game,” he said. “Signing Drew today is a big part of that. Signing Derek last week certainly helped us in that regard. We’re going to continue to look for ways to add depth, but we felt like adding at least one or two guys was going to be a priority for us, and we certainly feel like we’ve gotten to that point.”
With the signing of Holland to a one-year deal (with an option), Pomeranz on a one-year deal and ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte also on a one-year contract, Zaidi’s strategy is clear: Maximize versatility and depth in the short term (in a year the team is not expected to contend), while not adding any long-term guaranteed money and allowing current big-money contracts to phase out.
The strategy works out for Pomeranz, who met his wife Carolyn in the Bay Area — she’s a Miramonte High School alumna — and didn’t have the walk year he had hoped, headed into free agency. He’ll be able to return to an area with which he’s familiar, in a pitcher’s park, and can help a team win all while reminding other organizations of who he was before he had a 2018 beset with injuries.
Pomeranz, who started 11 of the 26 games in which he appeared last season for the Boston Red Sox, is the kind of versatile arm that can work in both the bullpen and the starting rotation, though his numbers last year were far from inspiring.
Pomeranz, who made a career-high 32 starts and posted a career-high 17 wins for Boston in 2017, went just 2-6 with a 6.08 ERA in 2018, with a pair of stints on the disabled list due to a left forearm flexor strain suffered during his first spring training start, and left biceps tendonitis. Pomeranz was on Boston’s 2018 World Series roster but did not see action in a game.
“Drew’s got a pedigree dating back to his college days, Team USA, being a top-five pick in the draft … He’s an incredibly versatile pitcher, which is valuable,” Zaidi said. “Being a lefty who has plus velocity on his fastball, in our views, has one of the better breaking balls in the game from the left side. He certainly has weapons, and you see that in his numbers, as he gets swings and misses.”
The Collierville, Tennessee native’s last stint in the National League came in 2016, where he was named an All-Star with the Padres after going 8-7 with a 2.47 ERA in 17 starts prior to the All-Star break. He was traded to Boston on July 14 and finished the season with the Red Sox, ending his 2016 campaign with a career-best 186 strikeouts.
From 2016-2017, Pomeranz owned a 3.32 ERA in 63 games (62 starts), which ranked as the sixth-best figure among qualified left-handed starting pitchers behind Clayton Kershaw (2.03 ERA), Rich Hill (2.78), Madison Bumgarner (2.93), Alex Wood (3.00) and Chris Sale (3.12).
“For him, putting up some of the numbers that he did, the season he had for the Red Sox in 2017 in a tough pitching environment, and in a tough division to pitch in really, now coming back to the NL West, where he had a lot of success with the Padres, and being able to pitch in our ballpark is just going to be able to help him further,” Zaidi said.
In eight Major League seasons, Pomeranz has posted a 44-48 record with a 3.92 ERA (309 earned runs, 710 innings) in 196 games (122 starts) with Colorado (2011-2013), Oakland (2014-2015), San Diego (2016) and Boston (2016-2018). As a starter in his career, Pomeranz owns a 4.04 ERA (280 earned runs, 623 innings) in 122 career starts. In 74 career relief appearances, most of which came with Oakland in 2015, Pomeranz has posted a 3.00 ERA (29 earned runs, 87 innings).
“Coming back to the NL West, where he had a lot of success with the Padres, and being able to pitch in our ballpark is just going to be able to help him further,” Zaidi said. “A guy with tremendous pedigree, two plus pitches, and again, versatility to pitch in different roles. We view him as a starter, and that’s the hope that he can have seasons like he had in ’16 and ’17, pitch 30-plus games for us. All of those are really strong attributes, and a lot of that was factored into when we acquired him in Oakland, and it’s the same thought process here.”
To make room on the 40-man roster for Pomeranz, the Giants have designated outfielder Mike Gerber for assignment.
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