SAN FRANCISCO -- Addressing both of their daunting to-do lists Wednesday, the Giants signed right-hander Ryan Vogelsong to a two-year contract with a club option for 2014.
The deal trimmed the Giants' list of salary arbitration-eligible players to seven, a number they'd like to reduce further. Right-hander Tim Lincecum leads this contingent, which includes right-handed relievers Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo, third baseman Pablo Sandoval and outfielders Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan and Nate Schierholtz. Teams will exchange proposed figures for one-year contracts with arbitration-eligible performers next Wednesday, a process which often drives both sides to compromise.
Vogelsong's agreement, worth approximately $8.3 million, also reflected the Giants' efforts to maintain the core of their pitching staff. They're not assured of retaining Matt Cain, who's eligible for free agency after this season, or Lincecum, who becomes a potential free agent following the 2013 campaign, on a long-term basis. Vogelsong's contract removes him from the free-agent market until after 2013. And the option year assures the Giants of keeping at least two of their quality starters beyond next season, if they pick up Vogelsong's option. Left-hander Madison Bumgarner won't be eligible for free agency until the 2016 season ends.
The Giants and Lincecum have discussed frameworks for multiyear contracts but are believed to have made little progress. San Francisco's hopes of remaining within its budgeted $130 million payroll could be tested if Lincecum goes to arbitration, where the two-time Cy Young Award winner could command a salary approaching $20 million.
General manager Brian Sabean has indicated that he'll intensify efforts to make a deal with Cain during Spring Training, after most 2012 contractual issues have been settled.
Vogelsong joined San Francisco's elite last year, when he finished a career-best 13-7 and ranked fourth in the National League with a 2.71 ERA. His tale of perseverance captivated fans and players alike and earned him the "Willie Mac" Award as the Giants' most inspirational performer. Drafted in the fifth round by the Giants in 1998, Vogelsong was traded to Pittsburgh in 2001 as part of the Jason Schmidt deal and went 10-22 with a 6.00 ERA as a Pirate through 2006. Vogelsong played three years in Japan and spent 2010 in Triple-A with the Angels and Phillies organizations before rejoining the Giants last year as a non-roster invitee to Spring Training on a Minor League contract.
"I'm in a place with the Giants and the city of San Francisco where I'm comfortable with my teammates and coaches," Vogelsong said. "I feel like I really connected with the fans last year. To have the opportunity to pitch there for two more years and to be on a team that has a chance to win for two more years are very important."
The Giants summoned Vogelsong, who began the 2011 season with Triple-A Fresno, after Barry Zito sprained his right foot on April 16. Vogelsong's first victory, which he recorded on April 28 at Pittsburgh, ended a 2,412-day stretch between wins as a starter. He proceeded to win nine of his first 10 decisions, prompting Giants manager Bruce Bochy to name him to the NL All-Star team.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.