Developing their own starting pitching has long been a strength of the San Francisco Giants organization. Three-fifths of the team’s current rotation is made up of homegrown talent. The team’s had so much success at building a rotation from within that the last time they went out and made a mid-season deal to bring in a starter was ten years ago – when they acquired Sidney Ponson from the Baltimore Orioles for Ryan Hannaman, Kurt Ainsworth, and Damian Moss.
The Giants appear to be bucking that trend, however, as the team has been looking to add another starting option to the roster and have already started reaching out to potential teams, according to Danny Knobler at CBSSports.com.
San Francisco came into the season with a rotation comprising of Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong, and Barry Zito. Cain has struggled, seeing his walk rate increase and his ERA balloon to a career worst level. Lincecum has been unable to rediscover his old form, prompting questions about whether he’ll need to move to the bullpen eventually. Vogelsong struggled before breaking his hand in mid-May, and Zito has been one of baseball’s worst pitchers on the road (10.19 ERA, allowing opponents to hit .420/.469/.557). Bumgarner’s the only one who’s been posting respectable numbers.
It’s too early in the process to make a good guess on who the Giants will eventually go for, but Giants people have been asking about Ricky Nolasco of the Miami Marlins and Bud Norris of the Houston Astros, among others. It doesn’t appear the Giants have begun in-depth conversations with either of those teams, however.
Both Nolasco and Norris have been actively appearing in trade rumors since the season began, though few teams have been directly linked to either pitcher up until now. It’s tough to gauge what the ultimate cost might be to acquire either, though Nolasco will almost certainly be easier to pry away. A free agent at season’s end, Nolasco has posted a 3-7 record in 14 starts (87.2 IP), with a 3.80 ERA and 1.198 WHIP. His peripheral starts suggest he’s pitched well, but he’s fallen victim to an anemic offense in Miami that’s failed to offer much in the way of run support. He made his desires to leave Miami known publicly before the season began. Norris will be under team control for two more seasons beyond the end of this one. He’s made 13 starts on the year (76.0 IP) and is 5-5 with a 3.43 ERA and 1.474 WHIP. Like Nolasco he’s hardly benefited from having a weak offense to support him, but Norris has arguably demonstrated more poise and presence on the mound. Widely viewed as a highly competitive individual, many have wondered aloud what type of pitcher Norris would become if added to a contending organization.
As Knobler stresses, the Giants interest at this point is all preliminary and the team has yet to begin discussions about what it might take to actually land one of these two – or any other – available pitchers on the trade market. Norris conceivably might make more sense for the team, but he also might carry a higher price tag when things are said and done.