San Francisco Giants Don't Need Big Contracts at Back of Rotation

By John Shea
Ricky Nolasco
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco Giants are in full flight as the team’s front office begins to scour the free agent market for potential additions. The Giants’ offseason priorities have essentially been solidified. San Francisco will reportedly target free agent pitchers in attempt to revamp a starting rotation that plummeted into the depths of mediocrity last season.

Ricky Nolasco is a potential fit at the back end of the Giants’ rotation. However, the 30-year-old veteran could command a contract that exceeds $80 million. GM Brian Sabean needs to be succinct in assessing possible long-term rotation options for the Giants, especially when considering talented prospects such as Kyle Crick.

It would be ill-advised for the Giants to ink so-called “marquee” free agent pitchers to long-term deals because such acquisitions could block players like Crick from eventually claiming a hold on a rotation spot. It has been previously reported that San Francisco isn’t terribly interested in adding Nolasco because he’s in pursuit of a contract that exceeds three years in length.

However, the Giants aren’t completely dissuaded from the idea of adding a player of Nolasco’s caliber, according to Mike Berardino via Twitter. The former fourth-round draft pick has mounted relative success at AT&T Park, which makes him an intriguing option from the Giants’ perspective. But at what cost?

Nolasco owns a career 2.55 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 42.1 innings pitched at the Giants’ waterfront ballpark. His pitching repertoire seemingly fits the dimensions of AT&T Park. Nolasco isn’t a front-line talent though. His career .270 batting average against could ultimately prove to be devastating in the Giants’ gap-happy ballpark. He also boasts a staggering .743 OPS against, a statistic which has remained consistent throughout his career.

At first glance, Nolasco would appear to be a stellar rotation option for the Giants because of his success at AT&T Park. However, his career numbers are vastly inconsistent despite an 89-75 record. The Giants shouldn’t be hard-pressed to dish out cash this offseason, although appropriately allocating funds is crucial to San Francisco’s perennial success.

The Giants want to shore up their rotation and redefine themselves as a team that wins because of stellar pitching efforts. San Francisco has continued dialogue with journeyman pitcher Ryan Vogelsong, who struggled mightily in 2013 after recording back-to-back efficient seasons. Vogelsong will command a fraction of the asking price that players like Nolasco will, which makes the right-handed veteran a legitimate candidate for earn a new contract in San Francisco.

Vogelsong recorded a 31-22 record in 80 starts for the Giants over the past three seasons. He’s a solid No. 5 option in the Giants’ rotation, especially if San Francisco is able to nab right-handed hurler Tim Hudson, who is reportedly closing in on a two-year deal with the Giants according to Jon Heyman via Twitter.

Nolasco is ultimately a figure of what the Giants don’t need to do this offseason: add free agent “talent” for the purpose of beefing up a rotation that could be equally as productive with alternative options.

John Shea is a San Francisco Giants writer for Follow him on Twitter @shea_prosports. “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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