February 23, 2024

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Jordan Hicks is dealing with the Giants

Jordan Hicks is dealing with the Giants
Jordan Hicks is dealing with the Giants

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January 12, 2024

The Giants have agreed to a four-year, $44 million contract with right-hander Jordan Hicks, a source told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand on Friday. The deal includes $2 million annually in role-based performance bonuses for each source. Hicks is expected to join San Francisco's staff after being used mostly as an assistant in his career, according to a report from ESPN's Jeff Passan.

Hicks is the Giants' second major acquisition this offseason, joining left-hander Robbie Ray, who was acquired from the Mariners for Mitch Haniger and Anthony DeSclafani last week.

With Ray (Tommy John surgery) and fellow veteran Alex Cobb (left hip surgery) expected to miss the start of the season due to injuries, the Giants were looking to bring in other pitchers who could join Logan Webb, Kyle Harrison and Keaton Wynn. and Ross Stripling and Tristan Beck as rotation options early in the year.

“We have to have at least two rotation positions where we have flexibility, whether it's young pitchers who can be optioned, whether it's guys who can move back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen,” President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi said. He said last week. “Having some flexibility there to be able to bring those guys back is going to be critical for us. It doesn't rule out kind of adding a free agent at the start who's been in the rotation from Opening Day and is a guy we'd like to get 30 starts out of, but it changes Equating a little bit. It puts a premium on some flexibility.

Given his outstanding stuff, Hicks is certainly an interesting option to bring into the mix. The 27-year-old is one of the toughest pitchers we've ever seen — and the owner of the two fastest pitches (over 105 mph) in the pitch-tracking era (since 2008). What's even more exciting is that he's coming off his best season as a senior. After a brief experience as a starter in a few games in 2022, Hicks came strictly out of the bullpen in 2023 and found high-level success across 65 outings.

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Hicks reached 50 innings for the third time in 2023. Among those three seasons, Hicks posted career-best marks in ERA (3.29), expected ERA (3.30), FIP (3.23), strikeout rate (28.4%) and whiff rate (28.2). . %). For the first time in his career, Hicks was able to use his other tools to miss bats while keeping his normally impressive ground ball rate under 60%.

The biggest change the right-hander made was joining the hugely popular sweeping movement. With the new sweeper, Hicks now has a breaking ball that hits about 87 mph and breaks a foot in terms of horizontal break. Combined with his 100 mph sinker that moves about 16 inches in the other direction, Hicks has a bad combination of two pitches that move in opposite directions. Hicks' sweeper produced a 59.5% whiff rate — third-highest among individual pitch types with at least 50 swings against him.

If there's any pause for concern, it's that Hicks has already had Tommy John surgery back in 2019 and has the type of anomaly that could make him an unfortunate risk for a second surgery. This is something his new team likely took into consideration when signing his new contract. Even with the usual risks she takes, Hicks seems to have found the right mix of absolutes and knows how to get the best results with them.