Jordan Hicks agrees to 4-year deal with Giants

January 18th, 2024

The Giants have agreed to a four-year, $44 million contract with right-hander , the club announced on Thursday. Hicks will earn $6 million in 2024 and $12 million per season from 2025-27 while also receiving a one-time $2 million signing bonus. The flamethrowing righty is expected to join San Francisco's rotation after being used mostly as a reliever in his career, according to a report by ESPN's Jeff Passan.

To make room on the 40-man roster for Hicks, right-hander Devin Sweet has been claimed off waivers by Detroit.

Hicks is the second major pitching acquisition made by the Giants this offseason, joining left-hander Robbie Ray, who was acquired from the Mariners for Mitch Haniger and Anthony DeSclafani last week.

With Ray (Tommy John surgery) and fellow veteran Alex Cobb (left hip surgery) expected to miss the beginning of the season due to injuries, the Giants had been looking to bring in other pitchers who could join Logan Webb, Kyle Harrison, Keaton Winn, Ross Stripling and Tristan Beck as rotation options early in the year.

“We’ve got to have at least a couple of rotation spots where we have flexibility, whether it’s young pitchers who are optionable, whether it’s guys who can move back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen,” president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said last week. “Having some flexibility there to be able to work those guys back in is going to be critical for us. It doesn’t rule out sort of adding a free-agent starting pitcher who is in the rotation from Opening Day and is a guy that we would like to get 30 starts from, but it does change the equation a little bit. It puts a premium on some flexibility.”

Given his premium stuff, Hicks is certainly an intriguing option to bring into the mix. The 27-year-old is one of the hardest-throwing pitchers we’ve ever seen -- owner of two of the fastest pitches (105-plus mph) in the pitch-tracking era (since 2008). More exciting is that he’s coming off his best season as a big leaguer. After a brief experiment as a starter in some games in 2022, Hicks strictly pitched out of the bullpen in ‘23 with high-level success across 65 outings.

Hicks reached 50 innings for the third time in 2023. Of those three seasons, Hicks set career-best marks in ERA (3.29), expected ERA (3.30), FIP (3.23), strikeout rate (28.4%) and whiff rate (28.2%). For the first time in his career, Hicks was able to use his otherworldly stuff to miss bats while still keeping his usually great ground-ball rate a tick below 60%.

The biggest change that the right-hander made was joining the ever-popular sweeper movement. With the new sweeper, Hicks now has a breaking ball that sits around 87 mph and breaks a foot in terms of horizontal break. Paired with his 100 mph sinker that moves nearly 16 inches the other way, Hicks has a nasty combination of two pitches moving in opposite directions. Hicks’ sweeper produced a 59.5% whiff rate -- the third highest among individual pitch types with at least 50 swings against it.

If there’s any pause for concern, it’s that Hicks has already undergone Tommy John surgery once back in 2019 and has the kind of outlandish stuff that could make him the unfortunate risk for a second surgery. That’s something that his new team likely accounted for when signing him to his new contract. Even with your usual pitcher risk, Hicks seems to have found the right combination of sheer stuff and knowing how to produce the best results with it.