SAN FRANCISCO — Ryan Vogelsong visited the Houston Astros this week and had an uncomfortable feeling about how he might fit in, and he had discussions with other teams during the course of this offseason.
Each time, everything pointed him back to the Bay Area and the Giants. His wife, Nicole, loves it, too, and he said she kept "chirping in my ear every two seconds."
Vogelsong just needed some patience as the Giants figured out the rest of their roster. The free agent right-hander finalized a $4 million, one-year contract Friday to stay with San Francisco, a deal includes an additional $3 million in performance bonuses.
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"When a decision came down, everything kept leading me back to San Francisco. It’s where I’m supposed to be," Vogelsong said. "I’ve always considered myself a Giant. There’s not really any place I’d rather play."
Vogelsong passed a physical and reached the deal three days after general manager Brian Sabean said the pitcher was close to joining another team. Vogelsong met with new Houston manager A.J. Hinch, but wouldn’t be specific about what made him uneasy.
"Some things happened I just wasn’t comfortable with. Negotiations kind of broke down after that," Vogelsong said. "Time to move on."
Vogelsong went 8-13 with a 4.00 ERA in 32 starts last season. The 37-year-old adds depth to a rotation that features ace Madison Bumgarner, Jake Peavy, Tim Hudson, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, who is working back from elbow surgery that ended his season in July. Vogelsong would likely start until Cain returns, and manager Bruce Bochy has said two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Lincecum will begin the year in the rotation. Bochy prefers right-hander Yusmeiro Petit as a swingman out of the bullpen who can go long in relief.
While the Giants pursued Jon Lester, they never expected to land a top-tier starter in free agency. Instead, they re-signed Peavy and Vogelsong and built around a talented pitching staff. San Francsico replaced departed third baseman Pablo Sandoval by acquiring Casey McGehee from Miami. New left fielder Nori Aoki was added this week on a $4.7 million, one-year contract.
Vogelsong has spent the past four seasons with San Francisco, winning World Series titles in 2012 and ’14. He made four postseason appearances last fall but didn’t have a decision.
He said some "divine intervention" was involved this winter.
"Sometimes patience is the best thing," he said. "It might be a little bit easier for me because I’m not looking to make the most money, I’m not looking to have my ego stroked so to speak."
He’s been in a similar position before.
In December 2013, Vogelsong signed a $5 million, one-year contract a month after the club didn’t exercise a $6.5 million option. That followed an injury-shortened 2013 season in which he went 4-6 with a 5.73 ERA in 19 starts and 103 2-3 innings. He broke two bones in the right pinkie area of his pitching hand and also dislocated a knuckle on a swing May 20, 2013, and underwent surgery the next day. He had five pins inserted in his hand.
Vogelsong won 13 in 2011 and 14 the following year. He became one of baseball’s feel-good comeback stories in 2011, when he made the All-Star team after joining the Giants’ rotation first as a fill in for the injured Barry Zito.
Vogelsong had toiled through three seasons in Japan before Triple-A stints in 2010 for Philadelphia and the los Angeles Angels. In the Bay Area with the team that originally drafted him in the fifth round in 1998, Vogelsong became a front-line starter at last.
Invited to spring training in 2011 on a minor league deal, he went on to win the team’s "Willie Mac" Award — named for Hall of Famer Willie McCovey and is voted on by players, coaches and training staff for the most inspirational Giants player on the field and in the clubhouse. Vogelsong set a career high for wins while going 13-7 with a 2.71 ERA in 30 games and 28 starts.
He then received an $8.3 million, two-year contract in January 2012.
Vogelsong won three games during the 2012 postseason for the eventual World Series champion Giants, including one during a 4-0 sweep of the Tigers for the team’s second championship in three years.
"We appreciate Ryan signing back with us," Sabean said. "He’s been on our radar all offseason, though we at times have pursued other options, we know what Ryan has brought to the table and his contributions have not only been timely but I think contagious to the organization. I think some of our consistency, the hallmark of success is competition and depth, and he certainly has created that by re-signing with us."