During the Winter Meetings in December, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi explained the front office hoped to add a left-handed starter to the mix in the team’s rotation before spring training.
Zaidi and Co. accomplished that goal on Thursday with the addition of pitcher Drew Smyly, who signed a one-year, $4 million contract with San Francisco. Smyly can earn an additional $3 million in performance bonuses as a starter and up to $1 million in bonuses as a reliever.
Smyly, 30, appeared in 25 games and made 21 starts last season as he split time between the Rangers and the Phillies. Smyly struggled with Texas, posting a 8.42 ERA before being designated for assignment but found more success in Philadelphia where he pitched to a 4.45 ERA in 12 starts under Gabe Kapler.
Prior to joining the Phillies last July, Smyly spent time in the Brewers’ minor league system where he attempted to work on mechanical fixes to his delivery before opting out of his deal with Milwaukee.
Smyly arrived in the majors in 2012 and posted a 3.74 ERA over 570 1/3 innings from 2012-2016 before missing the entire 2017-2018 seasons due to an elbow injury that ultimately required Tommy John surgery. The left-hander returned to the big leagues with Texas last season and will attempt to build off of his second half improvements with the Phillies in San Francisco.
It will take time before the Giants settle on Smyly’s role, but given the team’s desire to add a veteran left-hander to the rotation, he’ll be given the chance to win a starting job in spring training.
Smyly is the fourth free-agent starting pitcher the Giants have signed over the last two years under Zaidi, joining Derek Holland, Drew Pomeranz and Kevin Gausman, who is expected to be in the starting rotation this year. All four pitchers signed one-year deals with San Francisco.
Smyly’s addition adds intrigue to the battle for rotation spots this spring and also gives the Giants some insurance against potential injuries. Veterans Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Kevin Gausman are all expected to hold down starting spots while promising young starters including Tyler Beede, Tyler Anderson, Logan Webb and Shaun Anderson all figure to compete for jobs.
It’s unclear if the Giants will give Dereck Rodríguez and Andrew Suárez chances to start this spring or send both to the bullpen, but minor league free-agent signee Tyson Ross is also expected to earn starts during Cactus League play.
To clear a roster spot for Smyly, the Giants designated reliever Trevor Oaks for assignment.