San Francisco Giants General Manager Brian Sabean stated before the free agent frenzy began that strengthening the team's bullpen was a top priority.
Already adding left-hander Jeremy Affeldt, the Giants agreed to a one-year deal worth $2.75 million with right handed reliever Bob Howry Wednesday. The 35-year-old righty finished last season 7-5 with a 5.35 ERA in 72 appearances for the Cubs.
Because his former team, the Chicago Cubs, declined to offer him arbitration Monday, the Giants don't have to send a draft pick to the Windy City as compensation.
"We feel that Howry brings a tremendous amount of talented experience to our bullpen," Sabean said in an official statement released by the Giants. "He's pitched in big games and has proven to be both durable and very effective.
"With the previous addition of left-hander Jeremy Affeldt, we are pleased to have strengthened our 'pen, and these two veterans will help provide experience to our younger pitchers. We look forward to having Howry on our staff."
The signing will undoubtedly be an improvement over the options the Giants had last season. Their collective 4.45 ERA ranked 14th in the National League. They also allowed the third-most home runs (62) in the league in the fourth-fewest innings (487 1/3).
Howry's control is another thing that the Giants have to like. In 70 2/3 innings last season, he issued just 13 walks. In 2007, he walked only 19 in 81 1/3 innings. As a whole last season, the Giants bullpen ranked 15th in the NL with 652 walks.
Howry's name may ring a bell to Giants fans, who was drafted by San Francisco in the fifth round of the 1994 First-Year Player Draft. He was part of the infamous 1997 "White Flag" trade with the Chicago White Sox that brought Roberto Hernandez and Wilson Alvarez to San Francisco.
Now with Howry and Affeldt joining talented youngsters Sergio Romo and Alex Hinshaw to help fill the gap between the starters and closer Brian Wilson, Sabean is in all likelihood done with his revamping of the bullen.
As he heads to the Winter Meetings, that begin next week, upgrading the offense will be his top priority. If you believe the reports being thrown out there Wednesday, shortstop Edgar Renteria is close to agreeing to the two-year deal that was reported by New York radio station WFAN ten days ago.