DeSclafani signs 1-year deal with Giants

December 17th, 2020

The Giants continued to restock their pitching depth by signing free-agent right-hander to a one-year, $6 million deal on Wednesday.

DeSclafani is coming off a rough 2020 campaign in which he recorded a 7.22 ERA over nine appearances (seven starts) for the Reds, but he’s only one year removed from logging a 3.89 ERA over 31 starts in '19. A sixth-round Draft pick by the Blue Jays in 2011, DeSclafani has a 4.29 ERA over six Major League seasons and should help fill one of the voids in the rotation left by the departures of Drew Smyly, Tyler Anderson and Jeff Samardzija.

The 30-year-old’s contract includes an additional $250,000 in performance bonuses for innings pitched: $62,500 each for 140 innings, 160 innings, 180 innings and 200 innings.

“We’re excited to have him,” president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said Wednesday during a Zoom call with reporters. “He was really enthusiastic about the opportunity to become a Giant. We certainly are looking for players in free agency who are really eager to join what we're trying to build here, so it wound up being a great fit.”

DeSclafani profiles as yet another intriguing reclamation project for the Giants, who have become an attractive destination for free-agent starters looking to rebuild their value due to pitcher-friendly Oracle Park and the club's well-regarded coaching staff, which includes director of pitching Brian Bannister and pitching coach Andrew Bailey. Over the past two years, the Giants have helped pitchers like Drew Pomeranz, Kevin Gausman and Smyly turn one-year deals in San Francisco into more lucrative contracts in free agency.

The Giants will be counting on better health from DeSclafani, who opened the 2020 campaign on the injured list with a mild right teres major strain and struggled to find his form over the pandemic-shortened season. He lost his spot in the Reds’ rotation in September and was left off the club’s playoff roster for the National League Wild Card Series despite averaging a career-high 94.9 mph on his fastball during the season.

“DeSclafani is a guy that we think comes with some ceiling,” Zaidi said. “He's got really good stuff, good velocity on the fastball -- a lot of characteristics that we look for. Obviously, he didn't have his best season in 2020, but in 2019, he really had a nice year. That would be a great outcome for us, if he can get back to that level from 2019. We think there is even upside beyond that.”

DeSclafani is set to reunite with former Cincinnati teammate Gausman, who accepted a one-year, $18.9 qualifying offer to remain in San Francisco. Johnny Cueto and Logan Webb are also projected to be in the Giants’ rotation, along with Tyler Beede, who could be ready to return from Tommy John surgery in May. Still, the Giants will require additional reinforcements this offseason and could look to bring in some more left-handed options after losing Smyly to the Braves and non-tendering Anderson. Another lefty, Andrew Suárez, is reportedly nearing a one-year deal to join the LG Twins of the Korea Baseball Organization.

“I think we're going to continue to look for starting pitching,” Zaidi said. “It could come in the form of maybe a versatile swing man who could go back and forth. But I actually think that we have room to add another guy who we could rely on every fifth day. Just knowing that you need seven, eight, nine, 10 pitchers to get through a full season and coming off a shortened season where guys didn't log a lot of innings, that may be even more important. There hasn’t been a ton of free-agent activity yet, but the starting pitching segment of the market has been amongst the most active, not just in terms of deals, but in terms of conversations.”