Giants: Three free-agent starting pitchers with ties to Farhan Zaidi
Giants free-agent target: LHP Gio Gonzalez
A free agent for the first time last winter as a 33-year-old, Gio Gonzalez did not find the type of contract he was seeking.
In fact, he had to wait until the end of spring training to sign a minor league pact with the New York Yankees. His Yankees tenure would be short-lived as he was not promoted to the big league roster prior to his opt-out clause, which he then exercised.
That proved to be a good opportunity for the Milwaukee Brewers and they quickly signed Gonzalez to return to the city where he finished his 2018 season.
Similar to Anderson, Zaidi has firsthand experience with Gonzalez dating back to his days as an assistant general manager in Oakland. Gonzalez last pitched for the Athletics in 2011, but the connection remains.
The longtime Washington Nationals starter continues to post solid numbers, despite getting further into his 30s. Throughout his career, Gonzalez has recorded a 3.68 ERA and 1,826 strikeouts across 1,901.1 innings.
That career ERA is not too different from the 3.50 ERA he generated over 87.1 innings as a member of the Brewers rotation in 2019.
Unlike Roark or Anderson, Gonzalez is still capable of avoiding contact altogether as he posted a 21.3 percent strikeout rate against a 10.1 percent walk rate last season. Compared to the other two pitchers we’ve highlighted, he relies less on pitching to contact and more on a modest strikeout total.
As Gonzalez heads into his age 34-season, the free-agent market seems to be flooded with pitchers of his caliber. That’s not great news for Gonzalez, but it could be an opportunity for Zaidi to add a reliable, mid-rotation arm without extinguishing much of the payroll flexibility that has built up.
Both Anderson and Gonzalez were merely honorable mentions in the Top 50 Free Agent Predictions piece from MLB Trade Rumors, so the expectation is that neither one will command a significant contract.
There are plenty of other pitchers who would address the San Francisco Giants need for rotational help, but given Zaidi’s link to Roark, Anderson, and Gonzalez, it would not be surprising to see the Giants re-establish that connection with any of the three.