Jake Peavy

Giants bring back Jake Peavy, still need more SP depth

Jake Peavy SF Giants World Series paradeThe Giants off-season is finally getting going. After re-signing Sergio Romo on Wednesday the Giants have now come to terms with Jake Peavy on a two-year contract worth $24 million dollars.

The deal will pay him $7 million in the first year and $13 million in the second year, with a $4 million bonus. He has a full no-trade clause. The backloaded deal provides payroll flexibility this season — the extra dollars shouldn’t be much of a problem next year, with the Tims’ (Lincecum and Hudson) contracts coming off the books.

Taking into consideration the contracts that other starting pitchers have recieved this year, this is a good deal for both sides. Pitching has been an expensive commodity this winter, and this deal pays Peavy with the expectation that he’ll produce about 3.5 to 4 wins above replacement over the next two years, which seems fairly reasonable. Peavy earned 1.5 WAR (according to Baseball Reference) in 2013 with the White Sox and Red Sox. After a terrible first half of 2014, Peavy thrived in San Francisco and finished at 2.0 WAR (2.1 in 12 starts with the Giants).

With Peavy back, the Giants currently have what would look to be a full starting rotation, with Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Tim Hudson, Peavy and some combination of Lincecum/Yusmeiro Petit as the fifth starter. However, this is not the rotation of a team looking to compete in an increasingly difficult NL West — on paper, at least.

Cain underwent surgery in August to remove bone chips from his elbow and had a bone spur removed from his right ankle two months later, so asking him to hop right back into the rotation and throw 200+ innings would be an awful lot. Bumgarner is outstanding, but coming off a 270-inning season is a tough test for any pitcher. Hudson is 39, an age where pitchers can suddenly lose effectiveness. Lincecum, one of the worst starting pitchers in baseball over the last three years, has been a shadow of his former Cy Young self. Petit has pitched well for over a season, but he hasn’t been a full-time starter in five years and the Giants seem reluctant to hand him that opportunity in Spring Training.

That’s an awful lot of question marks for a team with designs on making the postseason in an odd-numbered year for the first time since 2003.

There are still options available on the free agent market, with an “Ace” in Max Scherzer and a solid number two pitcher in James Shields. Scherzer is asking for a deal worth $200 million. That’s a risk I can’t imagine the Giants will take, and for good reason. Shields should come cheaper, but would probably still command a price north of $100 million while forcing the Giants to surrender their first round pick (No. 19 overall).

Or, they could trade for a starter. The Giants have had trade talks about Doug Fister, which, depending on the asking price, could be a nice addition to the middle of the rotation.

However, if the Giants believe Cain will be ready to go by the beginning of April, they may be done improving their rotation. It doesn’t seem likely that they’d sign a mid-tier starter like Ryan Vogelsong or Aaron Harang if they’re serious about Lincecum starting the year in the rotation, and adding a guy like Shields or Fister would certainly push Lincecum to the bullpen. That wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, but Lincecum is set to make $18 million in 2015, so …

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