Shark, Giants hope to 'get along famously'
San Francisco's early interest appealing to new starter Samardzija
The Giants' newest starting pitcher officially donned the orange and black for the first time Friday afternoon at AT&T Park, as the club introduced right-hander Jeff Samardzija at a news conference.
Samardzija, 30, inked a five-year, $90 million deal earlier this week to become the club's new No. 2 starter.
"Today's a great day for the Giants. We've been admiring Jeff from afar for many years," Giants president and CEO Larry Baer said. "They talk about clubhouse chemistry, well, the chemistry with Jeff in [our first] meeting and his desire to be a Giant and our desire to bring him over, it was a pretty overwhelming thing. We like his attitude, makeup and ability, and we look forward to Jeff being a Giant for a long time."
Samardzija's contract includes a limited no-trade clause that enables him to list eight teams to which he can be dealt. He previously rejected a $15.8 million qualifying offer from the White Sox, which will force the Giants to relinquish their first-round pick in next year's Draft.
"I'm just excited. This whole free-agent process, you don't really know what to expect, what to look for. What I just kept going back to was the Giants coming to me in the very beginning and to hear they wanted me," Samardzija said.
"The way they play the game, the way they go about their business is something I've always appreciated and something I'm all about. ... Really, in the back of my head I knew this is where I wanted to be and this is where I belong because we have so many similar characteristics, and one is to win ballgames. And we're going to get it done and I just want to be a part of that."
Samardzija went 11-13 with a 4.96 ERA, 163 strikeouts and 49 walks in 32 starts for the White Sox last season, posting his third consecutive season of at least 200 innings pitched. It was, however, the worst season of his career.
Yet the Giants believe moving to a pitchers' park and playing in front of a better defense than he had in Chicago, along with the presence of pitching coach Dave Righetti and assistant general manager Dick Tidrow, will lead to Samardzija pitching more like the 2014 version of himself. That season, he posted a 2.99 ERA in 33 starts with the Cubs and A's.
"I put a lot of pressure on myself and got away from what I do well," Samardzija said of last season. "I think at times you can start chasing things and start to look for answers here and there, but I'm excited to come to a coaching staff where their reputation is established. I'm excited to come in and be the guy who takes what they say and get better."
Samardzija is one of eight big league pitchers to record 30-plus starts, 200-plus innings and 160-plus strikeouts in every season since 2013, joining new teammate Madison Bumgarner, Cole Hamels, Felix Hernandez, Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, Max Scherzer and James Shields.
"He's on his path to becoming what we think is one of the workhorse starters in the game," executive vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean said. "Everybody wants innings. As much as this contract is about performance, this is also about going to the post. For all he went through last year, he threw 214 innings. ... I think we're going to get along famously."
Samardzija is 47-61 with a 4.09 ERA, seven complete games, three shutouts and 901 strikeouts in 254 career games (131 starts) in eight seasons with the Cubs (2008-14), Athletics (2014) and White Sox (2015).