Giants first baseman Brandon Belt has been bothered by a right knee issue of late, and doctors have recommended he undergo surgery (relayed by Andrew Baggarly of the Athletic and Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area). Belt and the Giants are expected to take 24 hours to determine how they plan to proceed.
Belt has been on the injured list a couple times this season due to inflammation in that knee. This is far from the first year in which the joint has proven bothersome, as Belt has twice previously undergone surgery and had it drained on multiple occasions. In a forthright chat with Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle last week, the 12-year MLB veteran acknowledged the knee could be problematic for the rest of his career.
The 34-year-old conceded in his discussion with Slusser that he could undergone another surgical procedure. At the time, he expressed a belief he could delay any surgery until the offseason. It now seems that may not be the case, and if he indeed elects to go under the knife, his 2022 campaign will be cut short. The Giants have fallen five games under .500 and are virtually certain to miss the playoffs at this point, so shutting things down and turning his attention to next season may be prudent regardless.
Belt’s production has taken a huge hit this season, one of the reasons for the Giants inability to replicate last year’s 107-win campaign. Through 298 plate appearances, he’s hitting only .213/.326/.350 with eight home runs. Belt’s just a season removed from blasting 29 longballs, but his hard contact rate has fallen more than six percentage points from last year’s 44.8% mark. It’s hard to imagine the persistent knee issues weren’t playing some role in those struggles, considering he mashed at a .285/.393/.595 clip between 2020-21.
It’s nevertheless tough to know what one can expect from Belt moving forward given his age and injury history. The career-long Giant is headed for free agency this offseason. Belt is making $18.4MM this year after accepting a qualifying offer last November, but he’ll certainly be facing a paycut during this trip to the open market.