Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Giants Will Pay 'Mediocre' Samardzija Half MIllion Per Start, Little Upside in Cueto Deal

Jeff Samardzija 30 year old on downside
of career
Johnny Cueto will make more than half million per start
after lackluster season


By some measures, Jeff Samardzija is a mediocre baseball player. Since he became a full-time starting pitcher, in 2012, his ERA ranks 63rd of the 90 men who have thrown at least 500 innings. Last year, as he approached free agency, he allowed more hits and runs than any pitcher in the game. His career record: 47 wins, 61 losses. This year he will make more than the best   talent in the NFL; namely, running-back Calvin Johnson, who will have collected $113 million in his first six years in the NFL, making him one of of the wealthiest non-quarterbacks in league history.  Samardzija, by virtue of the five-year contract he just signed with the San Francisco Giants, is guaranteed to have earnings of $122,725,000. The Cueto signing may be even worse, with no apparent upside, as noted below. Assuming  both stay healthy the Giants will be paying out a cool combined MILLION DOLLARS PER START for the two pitchers


In San Francisco, delighted Giants fans and pundits are asking (in a postive way) 'How did the #SFGiants pull off the deal that brought big name pitchers Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardja to the team suddenly within a week of each other when it looked like the Giants were going to go bust again in the free agent market.'

Well, it turns out that other teams didn't want to pay Smardja anything close to the big bucks for Samardija w, who is just that, a 'big name' only , living off one good  year of 2014 , but only  a 11-win 4.50 ERA pitcher last year. Nor, did other teams want to pay Cuedo  $130 million for six-years for an even worse 11 win 4.76 ERA last year - and maybe the worst part of the deal a two-year opt-out clause . It's the first time a team has ever signed two pitchers for more than $90 million each as we understand.

 At least the  A's got Smardja cheap. With Cuedo there is really no upside for the Giants: 1) If Cuedo performs well in those two years he could be gone or demand a lot more money and 2) if he does poorly, the Giants are stuck with him another four years at $20 million per year.  

How quickly the Giants forget about their decision not to go after more long-term signings after Barry Zito, who ended up sitting on the bench most of his last four years collecting his millions from a similar long-term signing. The parallels are amazing between Zito and Cueto. Both pitchers were about the same age when signed by the Giants, coming to them with  good track records but not so much   histories as they approach late-career status..  It would be very surprising if Cueto had more than two good years left in the tank. Yes, if Cueto could somehow return to form and help put the Giants in the World Series again, it wouldn't make it necessarily a good deal but could  help diminish the downside of   eventual eroding production during the last four years.  With Samardja, maybe the Giants are also on the hook for all those years; it's doubtful you'll see five good years out of the 30-year-old Samardja, who already appears in his decline. And, we haven't even discussed paying these guys through injuries - a more likely occurrence with older players. 

Giants announcer Duane Kuiper was interesting, complimenting the Giants (of course)   not on the quality of the pitchers but their 'loud' personalities that will 'energize' the mostly -quiet existing clubhouse of 'quiet' players including Posey,Crawford, Duffy, Panik, etc.

The Oakland A's - say what you will about Billy Beane and company - have been pulling off what appear to be multiple bargain deals in recent months.  So now you know how the Giants, never known for great trades, acquired Cueto and Samardja, probably far more than Beane would have ever paid. For there to be a possible  upside, Cueto would have to return to form and a major contributor to another Giants World Series or two in 2016 or 2017 and then continue to do well with the Giants , or another team, for years after, however odds-makers would find this occurrence as  very unlikely.