Jordan Hicks lands new deal in the NL West ... as a starting pitcher

Oct 3, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Jordan Hicks (12) pitches
Oct 3, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Jordan Hicks (12) pitches / Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

A surprising amount of Blue Jays free agents remain out on the open market. Matt Chapman, Brandon Belt, Jay Jackson, Whit Merrifield and Hyun Jin Ryu are all still up for grabs.

On Friday, news broke that one of those free agents, Jordan Hicks, is officially coming off the board. According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, Hicks is signing a four-year, $44M contract with the San Francisco Giants.

An interesting wrinkle in Hicks's new deal, per Passan, is the fact that the 27-year-old is going to join the Giants ... as a starting pitcher. The right-handed flamethrower has spent the vast majority of his big league career as a relief pitcher (204 of his 212 outings have come in relief), but he is going to try his hand at securing a rotation spot.

In years past, Hicks had expressed on multiple occasions that he'd like a chance to start games. The Cardinals gave him a shot in 2022, but he had a 5.47 ERA with nearly as many walks (21) as strikeouts (25) in 26+ innings.

At times, Hicks has proven to be a dominant relief weapon. He regularly throws 100+ miles per hour, has experience closing games, and has been very durable over the past few seasons (after a previous Tommy John surgery in 2019). Last year, he split his time between the Cardinals and Blue Jays. In a total of 65 appearances, he posted a 3.29 ERA, 3.22 FIP and 132 ERA+ with over 11 strikeouts per nine innings.

On his new club, Hicks will - or should, really - provide the Giants with an immediate upgrade in their rotation. The club has been "in on" many players this offseason, much like the Blue Jays, and only come away with Jung Hoo Lee and an expensive backup catcher in Tom Murphy. Roster Resource has Hicks penciled in as the club's No. 4 starter alongside Logan Webb, old friend Ross Stripling, Kyle Harrison and Keaton Winn.

Of course, if Hicks struggles to find his footing as a starter, he should rather easily be able to switch back to the bullpen and excel. The Giants have super-closer Camilo Doval and Taylor and Tyler Rogers on hand to form one heck of a relief pitching trio, so adding Hicks to that would make it a lethal bunch. Once either Alex Cobb or the recently acquired Robbie Ray return from their long-term IL stints, it's entirely possible that that'll be the end of Hicks's stint as a starter if the results aren't there.