The Giants picked up another veteran reliever on Wednesday when they signed righty Bobby Howry to a one-year contract worth $2.75 million.
Howry is an 11-year veteran who throws hard. He will help Sergio Romo and Alex Hinshaw, as well as newly signed Jeremy Affeldt, in the seventh and eighth innings setting up for Brian Wilson.
Howry's numbers weren't all that great last year with the Cubs, but his track record with control (13 walks in 70-and-two-thirds innings) should translate to a better year in a pitcher's park.
Giants scouts attribute the high ERA (5.35) to Lou Piniella's overuse of Howry early in the year. But, Ron Scheuler says, "the stuff was still good. The velocity was still there."
At 35, Howry doesn't exactly fit into the "youth movement," but more into the veteran reinforcement of the bullpen. He actually began his career in the Giants organization, but was traded the White Sox in the 1997 "White Flag" trade.
Also, like in the Renteria case, Howry was not offered arbitration, so his signing will not cost the Giants a draft pick.
The Giants are also reportedly "very close" to a deal with shortstop Edgar Renteria, according to his agent Barry Meister. Again, the terms seems to be two years, $18 million, and no draft pick lost for San Francisco. See this article for more details.
Meanwhile, Yahoo Sports' Tim Brown reports that the Giants are kicking around the idea of trading LHP Jonathan Sanchez to Florida for third-baseman Jorge Cantu. Cantu can hit, driving in 95 runs last year and batting a solid .271. But he definitely contributed to the Marlins' worst fielding infield in the league, putting in a .973 fielding percentage at third.
Cantu would offer an upgrade on offense from Jose Castillo and Ryan Rohlinger, but a major downgrade at defense for the Giants after a long tradition of slick-fielding hot corners like Matt Williams, Bill Mueller, David Bell, and even Pedro Feliz.
Lastly, Fox's Ken Rosenthal and ESPN's Buster Olney are saying that the Giants are the dark horse in signing free agent CC Sabathia, and that the Giants could immediately contend by adding the ace pitcher.
If by chance this happens, they sign Renteria, and trade Sanchez for Cantu, then the G-men will have a stellar rotation (Sabathia, Lincecum, Cain, Zito, Lowry), as well as a pretty solid infield offensively (Cantu, Renteria, Burriss, Sandoval). That being said, they will be paying $40 million a year for only two-fifths of their pitching staff.
In conclusion, I believe that the additions of Renteria, Affeldt, and Howry will cost about the same as one year for Rafael Furcal, so it's really a steal to get all three.
Howry and Affeldt will anchor down the bullpen, hopefully eliminating the troubles that plagued the Giants last season in getting from their starters to Brian Wilson. Renteria, if and when he's signed, is a great clubhouse addition, a good fielder, and a solid .290 hitter.
These are the steps in the right direction, and the Giants are making a free agent signing splash quickly before anyone else can.