SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants will head into free agency with two vacancies in their starting rotation.
Right-hander Ryan Vogelsong's $6.5 million option was declined Monday, making the 36-year-old a free agent. While Vogelsong had previously expressed a desire to stay in San Francisco, assistant general manager Bobby Evans said the two sides are not actively working on a deal.
"We're open to discussing ways to bring him back, but right now both sides are going to have some exploration of the market," Evans said. "I don't think today necessarily eliminated the chances of him coming back, but it does put a step back in the process. As he looks at other options, he could find something very appealing or we could find something (in the free agent market)."
Vogelsong, originally drafted by the Giants in 1998, scripted a comeback story for the ages after returning to San Francisco in 2011. He was an All-Star that year and won 14 games in 2012 before going 3-0 with a 1.09 ERA in four postseason starts. This year was a step back, with Vogelsong posting a 5.73 ERA and making just 19 starts because of a fractured finger. Many in the organization believed Vogelsong's issues stemmed back to his spring participation in the World Baseball Classic, and general manager Brian Sabean said that Vogelsong had earned the benefit of the doubt. Still, the option was deemed too pricey.
"Unfortunately, we had to make a decision today," Evans said. "I think the circumstance dictated making the tough call. We wish we had more time."
When free agency gets going this month, the Giants will have plenty of time to reshape their rotation, but the free agent market is not considered flush with high upside pitching. Three potential fits -- Cleveland's Ubaldo Jimenez, Kansas City's Ervin Santana and the New York Yankees' Hiroki Kuroda -- received qualifying offers Monday, and the front office is not keen on giving up a first-round pick to sign a player who was tagged.
Free agents Bronson Arroyo and Ricky Nolasco have in the past talked about pitching in San Francisco, and several veterans could fit the bill, including Josh Johnson, Matt Garza and former A's right-hander Dan Haren. Evans said the Giants would be open-minded.
"We're going to explore as many options as we can," he said.
Now, so will Javier Lopez, who will join Vogelsong on the open market and surely be a hot commodity as one of the best left-handed specialists in the league. Some in the industry have predicted that Lopez, 36, could find a three-year deal.
"We still have an interest in bringing him back," Evans said. "But we're going to have to compete against the market."