New San Francisco Giants Director of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi made his bullpen more versatile on Friday, signing switch pitcher Pat Venditte to a major-league deal.
Now playing in the ultimate “you do you” city, Venditte is unique in that he is ambidextrous–he pitches from both his left and right arms. Venditte is a low-risk option for the San Francisco Giants, as he will make only $585,000 in a one-year deal.
Venditte did have limited success last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 14 innings pitched, he only gave up 11 hits and four runs (2.57 ERA). He’s struggled in years past but the Giants hope to catch lightning in a bottle, adding to their bullpen depth.
The switch pitcher has also played for the Oakland A’s, Seattle Mariners, and the Toronto Blue Jays.
Adding to his versatility, Venditte is a different pitcher when throwing from his left or right hand.
"“It’s completely different armslots at times,” Venditte told NBC Sports Bay Area. “I would say I’m sidearm right-handed 70 percent of the time and over the top 30 [percent] and 95 percent sidearm lefty with five percent over the top. Maybe not even that much. But I do utilize changes a little bit more from the right side and that’s kind of been a new thing for me last year that I will continue to work on this offseason going into spring training and the regular season.”"
According to MLB Rules, Venditte will have to declare if he’ll be a right-handed or left-handed pitcher before the batter steps into the box.
The Giants would be wise to load up on their pitching staff, the one area they can actually attract top free agents. With the wide open spaces of the cavernous AT&T Park, the ballpark is a pitcher’s paradise.
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If the Giants are going to turn this 2 1/2-year slump around, they’re going to have to trade away one of their top bullpen arms to get back outfield talent. With Venditte in the bullpen pitching from both the right and left sides, they can afford to trade away a commodity like Will Smith or Tony Watson for desperately-needed position player talent.
The Giants bullpen already has solid arms like Sam Dyson, Reyes Moronta, and Ray Black, so they can afford to part ways with one of their two top lefties in the bullpen. Without young, dynamic talent in the outfield, they’re not going to win anyway, and Venditte’s addition could help them acquire the desperately-needed outfielders.
There are some concerns with Venditte having a prominent role in the Giants’ bullpen. He’s only logged 64 2/3 career innings over four seasons, with a 4.45 career ERA. However, he’s only given up 57 hits in his career and has held opponents to a .235 average.
It’s definitely worth taking a chance on Venditte, but they’re still getting a big question mark in terms of what they’re going to get. But with the Giants tied to huge, immovable contracts–Mark Melancon, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija just to name a few–they’re going to need to catch lightning in a bottle with some cheap, under-the-radar players to succeed in 2019.
Maybe a switch pitcher is just the right magic pill to change things up.