San Francisco Giants: Fifth Rotation Spot Should Belong to Ryan Vogelsong

By Ron Gleeson
Ryan Vogelsong

The San Francisco Giants filled a huge hole in their roster Monday when they inked veteran pitcher Tim Hudson to a two-year, $23 million deal. The team was in major need of starting pitching, something it has had an abundance of over the past four seasons. Alas, the Giants still need to find a fifth starter for their rotation.

San Francisco should look no further than one of its own: Ryan Vogelsong. When compared to the other options San Francisco can bring in to address this issue, Vogelsong looks to be the best decision in the interest of both baseball and business.

Vogelsong will be far and away the cheapest option for San Francisco. Bronson Arroyo, Dan Haren and Josh Johnson — all linked to the Giants’ free agent hunt — will be looking for big contracts that can usually be found in the free agent market. More importantly, the three aforementioned pitchers have uncertain futures in terms of success.

Haren and Johnson were once great but have been incredibly inconsistent in recent years. Haren has not thrown a winning record since 2011 — Johnson not since 2009. Last season with the Washington Nationals, Haren posted a 10-14 record with a 4.67 ERA. Johnson was abysmal during his only season with the Toronto Blue Jays last year, earning a 2-8 record and a 6.20 ERA in only 16 starts.

Arroyo had a winning record in 2013 at 14-12 and posted a decent 3.79 ERA, but he led the league in home runs allowed with 32 — Haren followed with 31 of his own. Bringing Arroyo to a pitcher’s ballpark like AT&T Park would be wise, but there’s no way he is going to be worth the money he’s after. There’s also no telling if him pitching in San Francisco would bring an immediate halt to his tendency to give up the long ball.

The Hudson deal is a bit of risk given his ankle fracture in July. So do the Giants dare to up their ante by spending more money on a not-so-sure thing? That’s why giving Vogelsong a one-year deal — two years maximum — is the smartest decision for San Francisco. The organization has already spent hundreds of millions of dollars on contracts for Tim Lincecum, Buster Posey, Matt Cain and Hunter Pence. For a franchise that doesn’t like to spend more than it earns, buying free agents such as Arroyo, Haren or Johnson would be ill-advised.

Vogelsong loves San Francisco. It’s the city and franchise that gave him a second chance in MLB. He’ll gladly accept a one-year contract from the Giants. Should Vogelsong begin to struggle, San Francisco has Yusmeiro Petit to step in at the fifth slot in the rotation if need be.

Burning money on another starting pitcher would not be the smartest thing for the Giants at this point. Vogelsong still has gas left in the tank, and a one-year deal would give him incentive to perform like the pitcher he was two years ago. He’s cheaper and has just as much upside as any free agent pitcher on the market today.

Ron Gleeson is a San Francisco Giants writer for Follow him on Twitter @rtgleeson and add him to your network on Google.

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