In late-November, just before the MLB lockout commenced, an intriguing arm hit the market and was quickly identified as a possible transformation target for the SF Giants pitching development staff.
Over the past couple years, the Giants have turned around the careers of multiple hurlers and allowed them to pick up bigger contracts either elsewhere or by resigning with the Orange and Black. Kevin Gausman, Anthony DeSclafini, Alex Wood, Drew Pomeranz and Drew Smyly are the primary examples of what the pitching factory has produced, and now left-handed starter Matthew Boyd could be the next.
Boyd, a longtime starting pitcher with the Detroit Tigers, was non-tendered by Detroit on November 30. The lockout began just over 24 hours later, rendering him unable to sign with another team until a new CBA was in place and the lockout was over.
SF Giants increase rotation depth
Even after the addition of 2021 American League All-Star Carlos Rodon, former NL All-Star Carlos Martinez and former Kansas City Royals pitcher Jakob Junis to round out the starting rotation (in Rodon's case) and create experienced depth, the Giants apparently decided they needed more pitching possibilities.
Enter Boyd, who has started 145 games in his MLB career since debuting in 2015. He has shown tantalizing ability, keeping walk rates down (under 3.0 per nine innings for his career) and striking out nearly a batter an inning on average, with a high of 11.6 per nine innings in 2019 (238 whiffs in 185 1/3 innings pitched).
Early on Thursday, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported that Boyd and the Giants were in agreement on a $5.2 million contract with an additional $2.3 million in incentives available.
Boyd's main issue throughout his Major League time has been his gopher ball-itis. During that same 2019 season with his best strikeout rate, Boyd allowed a league-high 39 round trippers. For his career, he's given up 1.6 HR/9.
In the ERA category, Boyd had his best season in 2021 with a 3.89 mark. He only pitched in 15 games, for 78 2/3 innings, because of injuries, but allowed a career-best 1.0 HR/9.
Boyd is currently on the mend after having surgery in September on the flexor tendon in his pitching arm, but he told a reporter (subscription required) in February that he thinks he'll be ready for game action by June.
Once Boyd is healthy, he should receive an immediate boost in his numbers just from pitching at Oracle Park. If the Giants pitching coaches can help bring out his abilities even more, he could be a huge roster addition as the season drags on.