Giants, Vogelsong make one-year deal official
With four-fifths of likely rotation back, club optimistic pitching will return to form
SAN FRANCISCO -- Ryan Vogelsong reacted to the Giants' perceived snub as if he had just yielded an untimely base hit. As any polished pitcher would do, he shrugged it off.
Vogelsong admitted feeling jarred on Nov. 4 when the Giants declined to pick up the $6.5 million option on his 2014 contract, which made him a free agent. But he listened to their pleas, which began that very day, to consider re-signing with them anyway. Ultimately, Vogelsong's patience with the Giants hastened their agreement on a one-year, $5 million deal that became official Wednesday after he passed his physical examination.
The Giants faced other priorities when they briefly cast Vogelsong aside. Bolstering the starting rotation with Tim Hudson and maintaining bullpen stability with Javier Lopez, who signed multi-year contracts, were more pressing issues for the club. Until the Giants secured their services, assistant general manager Bobby Evans maintained just enough contact with Vogelsong and his agent, Dave Meier, to reassure the right-hander that he would stay with the only team for whom he truly wanted to play.
"Even that night after they told me they weren't going to pick up the option, they asked me to please understand what was going on and to keep the lines of communication open," Vogelsong said on a conference call with reporters. "My initial reaction was obviously [to feel] upset, but at the same time, being [upset] never gets anything accomplished. ... Things just kind of progressed from there."
As Giants general manager Brian Sabean said, "First and foremost, our intent wasn't to part ways with Vogey. ... I knew in my heart we'd work out a way to get him back."
Should Vogelsong regain the form he displayed in 2011-12, when he finished 27-16 with a 3.05 ERA, performance bonuses in his contract likely will boost his earnings past the $6.5 million option figure. But, said the Giants' projected No. 5 starter, "This whole deal isn't about ego and money for me. The game never has been about that. It's about being the best pitcher I can be and winning baseball games and trying to bring a championship back here."
Vogelsong slumped along with the Giants last season, posting a 4-6 record and a 5.73 ERA. But he hopes to avoid the bad luck that plagued him in 2013. He was hit by a pitch from Washington's Craig Stammen on May 20, which fractured his right hand and sidelined him for nearly three months. Vogelsong also endured the physical erosion that befell almost every Giant who participated in the World Baseball Classic in March.
To combat the loss in velocity that marred his late-season efforts, Vogelsong, who lives near Philadelphia, has been working with Bill Donnelly, a former Phillies athletic trainer and physical therapist. Vogelsong, 36, reasoned that improved flexibility should restore the zip to his fastball.
Sabean said that if any pitcher "deserves a pass" for a subpar season, it's Vogelsong, whose unlikely rise from Minor League castoff to National League All-Star captivated Giants fans. "We all know what his story is and we all know what his success has been here," Sabean said. "There's nothing wrong with him physically, there's nothing wrong with his arm, and mentally he's as sharp, more determined."
With next week's Winter Meetings approaching, the Giants are still seeking upgrades for left field and the bullpen. Sabean indicated that few, if any, outfield candidates exist through free agency or trade, which he said will force the Giants to be "resourceful" as they strive to find a capable hitter for the position that was an offensive wasteland last season.