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12/02/08 8:13 PM EST

Giants ramp up interest in Howry

Reliever more attractive after Cubs decline to offer arbitration

SAN FRANCISCO -- Still seeking right-handed relief help, the Giants have accelerated their pursuit of right-hander Bob Howry, who became a more attractive option Monday when his former team, the Chicago Cubs, declined to offer him salary arbitration.

As a Type A free agent, had Howry been offered arbitration, the Giants would have to give Chicago their second-round pick in next June's First-Year Player Draft if they were to sign him. Now, he'll require no compensation.

"I think the level [of the Giants' interest] has risen recently," Howry's agent, Craig Landis, said in an e-mail.

Howry, who earned $4.5 million last season, ordinarily might command another handsome salary due to his status as an 11-year veteran. But his 7-5 record in 72 appearances during 2008 was marred by a 5.35 ERA, including 6.93 after the All-Star break. He allowed 13 home runs in 70 2/3 innings while opponents hit .336 off him.

Howry's control probably appeals to the Giants, who ranked 15th in the National League last season with 652 walks. He issued 13 walks last season and 19 in 81 1/3 innings in 2007, when he finished 6-7 with 72 strikeouts and a 3.32 ERA in 72 appearances.

Hot Stove

Howry began his professional career in the Giants organization as a fifth-round selection in the 1994 Draft. He was traded to the Chicago White Sox in the memorable "White Flag" deal on July 31, 1997, and made his Major League debut with them the following season.

The Giants addressed their left-handed relief needs by signing Jeremy Affeldt on Nov. 17 to a two-year, $8 million contract.

In other news, the Giants added John Castleberry, Joe Salermo, Ron Merrill and Mike Metcalf to their scouting staff. Castleberry, who becomes the Giants' Northeast scouting supervisor, signed Joey Votto, who was second in last month's National League Rookie of the Year balloting, while working for the Reds. Salermo, who assumes the role of Latin America cross-checker, worked for the Mets' scouting department when they drafted talented prospects such as Scott Kazmir, Lastings Milledge and David Wright.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.