Eyre leaves San Francisco, signs with Cubs

Scott Eyre may be able to say ‘Arugala' without smiling, but he's probably got a grin on his face when he says "$11 Million, 3 year deal."

Former San Francisco Giants reliever Scott Eyre signed a 3 year, $11 million deal with the Chicago Cubs Thursday, sealing a loss of one of the Giants most valuable players of 2005, and perhaps the most important piece of a just-stabilizing bullpen.

The Cubs gave Eyre a 2 year deal with a player option for the third, outbidding their division rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Houston Astros. The Atlanta Braves had also been in the running. Eyre can also earn an extra $300,000 a year in performance incentives, and reportedly also gets a signing bonus and more money if he takes over the closer role during the length of the deal.

Eyre proved himself to be one of the most durable relievers in the league, appearing in a major league high 86 games (5 games ahead of the two 2nd place pitchers), and since 2002 ranks second in total appearances by a left hander with 313 appearances, behind Ray King, who has 319. Eyre had a career low 2.63 ERA in 2005, and broke the typical left handed reliever stereotype by being just about as effective against right handed pitching as he was against left handed.

The Giants are not left empty-handed. Since Eyre was a ‘Type A’ free agent, the Giants will receive 2 draft picks in compensation. The Giants will get a Sandwich Round pick between the first and second rounds, which will be between picks 31-40, and will also receive a draft pick of the Cubs as high as their second round pick.

The bigger question for the Giants will be how they will replace Scott Eyre’s production in the bullpen. Former swingman Jeff Fassero may be used in a setup capacity, as he posted a very good 3.00 ERA as a reliever in 2005. Another option is Jack Taschner, who made his debut in 2005 and posted a 1.59 ERA in 24 appearances in the majors. The Giants may pursue a veteran reliever in free agency, but it’s unlikely they’d pursue some of the top names and may go for a minor league pickup with a shot to earn a big league job in spring training, as the Giants did with several pitchers in 2005 including Fassero.

The pick the Giants get from the Cubs cannot be higher than their second round pick, since the Cubs are #12 in the draft order and the top 15 picks (including the Giants #10 overall pick) cannot be lost in free agent compensation. The pick the Giants get from the Cubs could be in a later round, if the Cubs sign free agents who ranked higher than Eyre that will demand compensation. The 27 free agents who could move the Giants pick back are Roger Clemens, Johnny Damon, Octavio Dotel, Kyle Farnsworth, Rafael Furcal, Brian Giles, Tom Gordon, Jose Guillen, Ramon Hernandez, Trevor Hoffman, Bob Howry, Todd Jones, Mike Lieberthal, Kevin Millar, Bengie Molina, Matt Morris, Mike Piazza, Al Reyes, Kenny Rogers, B.J. Ryan, Rudy Seanez, Julian Tavarez, Ugeth Urbina, Billy Wagner, Larry Walker, Jeff Weaver, and Tim Worrell.

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