Tomko agrees to one-year deal

Updated: January 9, 2004, 8:28 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Francisco Giants bolstered their starting rotation when they agreed to a $1.5 million, one-year contract with right-hander Brett Tomko.

Tomko will make $1.2 million next season with a chance to earn $250,000 in performance bonuses. The deal contains a 2005 club option worth $2.5 million plus any performances earned, and he would get a $300,000 buyout if the option is declined. If it's exercised, he would be able to earn another $250,000 in performance bonuses.

Tomko, who had a physical Friday before flying home to San Diego, could be the No. 4 starter for the defending NL West champions behind Jason Schmidt, Kirk Rueter and Jerome Williams.

The 6-foot-4 Tomko bounced back after a rough start with St. Louis last season to finish 13-9 with a 5.28 ERA, matching his career high for wins. He was 8-3 with a 4.57 ERA after the All-Star break and second on the Cardinals in victories, starts (32) and innings (202 2-3), trailing only All-Star Woody Williams in each category.

"I'm just excited to be a Giant now and get this thing underway," said Tomko, who was anxious to find a team with spring training just more than a month away. "I think it's the whole package. It's a great situation for myself and for my family. I'm a West Coast boy and grew up in California. It's close to home and it's a great team that'd you'd have to look at as a division contender. It's a great place to pitch and it's a great ballpark."

Giants general manager Brian Sabean had been following Tomko for several years as someone the club might want to target. When last season ended, Tomko told his agent he was interested in going to San Francisco if he couldn't return to the Cardinals. They didn't offer him salary arbitration.

Tomko also had interest from Cleveland, San Diego, Tampa Bay and Texas.

The Giants like his durability. The 30-year-old Tomko, who joins his fifth major league team, has pitched 400-plus innings in the past two seasons.

"It's tough to find," Sabean said. "From a player personnel standpoint, this was an easy decision. In our minds he has age, ability and recent durability."

With Schmidt coming off right elbow surgery, the Giants want to make sure they have a starter they can count on every fifth day. Schmidt is the team's ace and is expected to be ready to go by April, but Sabean isn't counting on it.

So, Tomko provides some much-needed depth.

He has missed one start in a seven-year career that began with Cincinnati in 1997.

"It's something I pride myself in," he said. "I take the ball every fifth day."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press