SAN FRANCISCO -- Free agent pitcher Matt Morris had a secret, and he wasn't about to let the Giants know -- he wanted to come to San Francisco. The 31-year-old right-hander got his wish Monday, signing a three-year deal for $27 million with a club option for a fourth year, solidifying the rotation and boosting the Giants' optimism for a successful 2006. Helping to persuade the nine-year veteran to join the Giants was catcher Mike Matheny, a longtime backstop for Morris in St. Louis, and the new No. 2 man in the San Francisco rotation already expects a quick transition to only his second Major League team.
"The Giants were my No. 1 choice," said Morris from SBC Park on Monday after weighing other offers. "The organization takes pride in putting a quality ballclub on the field ... but Mike was a huge factor in coming here. "It's also a pitcher's park -- in fact, the whole [National League West] division is pitcher friendly. That is a consideration. Matheny told me he enjoyed how [manager] Felipe Alou and the organization treated him, and he's a big part of why I'm here." Morris solidifies the Giants' rotation, anchored by hard-throwing ace Jason Schmidt, who was relatively ineffective last season due to arm problems. With youngsters Noah Lowry and Matt Cain solid, the Big Four is now set, with Brad Hennessey penciled in as No. 5. St. Louis, expected to try to re-sign Morris after losing the sweepstakes race for A.J. Burnett, didn't come up with a sufficient offer to retain the 11-year veteran. Morris has won at least 14 games in four of the past five seasons and is a good friend with Matheny. Morris was 14-10 with a 4.11 ERA last season, struck out 117 batters and only walked 37. "He's a gamer," said Matheny on Monday. "He's going to go out there and not leave anything on the field. I talked to Matt early on and we knew it would be a tough situation for him. He was not high on St. Louis' priority list, and I've been in the same situation." Morris turned down a two-year, $13 million offer from the Cardinals, but felt it was time to move on. Asked if St. Louis is considered a "Mecca" for good players, the veteran quickly replied, "San Francisco is, isn't it?"
Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.