SAN FRANCISCO – The Giants have informed Ryan Vogelsong that the club won’t pick up his $6.5 million option, but sources say the two sides have begun discussions on a restructured contract.
The Giants are interested in bringing back Vogelsong, but for a smaller guaranteed salary with incentives based on innings and/or starts.
The club is expected to announce its intention with Vogelsong on Monday, and also make official the decision to decline options on Barry Zito and Andres Torres; both Zito and Torres were on a list of free agents that the Major League Players’ Association released on Saturday.
Vogelsong is a 2011 All-Star and a 2012 postseason hero whose late-career comeback ranks as one of the most inspiring tales in recent franchise history. But he’s also going to turn 37 in July and is coming off a difficult season in which he went 4-6 with a 5.73 ERA and 1.56 WHIP.
His struggles were acute even before May 20, when he was struck by a pitch that crushed the pinky finger on his pitching hand. He returned in August and ended up throwing just seven quality starts out of 19.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy and GM Brian Sabean have said that Vogelsong deserves the benefit of the doubt, not only because he has revived his career once before but also because he likely was set back by pitching in the World Baseball Classic last March, immediately after such a short offseason. As for Vogelsong, he has expressed a strong desire to return and work with pitching coaches Dave Righetti and Mark Gardner.
The club has two current vacancies in its rotation behind Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum.
The Giants might be able to funnel some potential savings on Vogelsong to make an offer to left-hander Javier Lopez, who is a free agent. Lopez, who is coming off a two-year, $8.5 million contract, has expressed a desire to stay.
Right now, he is free to talk to other clubs but can only discuss contract terms with the Giants. That exclusive window ends at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, when free agents can begin talking money with any club.
Monday also is the deadline for clubs to extend a $14.1 million qualifying offer to their own free agents. The Giants won’t have any decisions to make, since they already re-signed Hunter Pence and Tim Lincecum. But they’ll find out which other free agents receive offers, which would tie them to draft pick compensation.
Club officials have said they do not foresee any circumstance in which they would part with their pick, 14th overall, to sign a free agent. So it’ll be interesting to find out whether the Reds, for instance, tender an offer to right-hander Bronson Arroyo.
As for the money the Giants saved by declining Zito’s $18 million option? Well, it’s already spent in raises due to Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Sergio Romo, Madison Bumgarner and others. Brandon Belt should get a bump in arbitration, too. And then there’s the whopping $7 million buyout that Zito receives instead.
Torres, who underwent surgery in August to remove bone spurs from his left heel, had a mutual option for $3 million. He’ll receive a $500,000 buyout instead.
Vogelsong's buyout amount is $300,000.