Giants right-hander Ross Stripling has the ability to return to free agency this offseason, as he can opt out of a $12.5MM salary for next year. However, the 33-year-old indicated this evening that he doesn’t anticipate heading back to the open market.
Stripling rather frankly told the team’s beat he “hasn’t pitched well enough to opt out” (relayed by Maria Guardado of MLB.com). While a blunt self-assessment, it’s not an especially surprising declaration. The veteran hurler has a 5.29 ERA over 78 1/3 innings on the season. That’s well off the 3.01 earned runs per nine which Stripling had allowed during his final year with the Blue Jays.
While he wasn’t especially overpowering even during his best seasons in Toronto, Stripling has lost a couple percentage points off his strikeout rate. He has still been one of the league’s best at avoiding free passes but has proven far too home run prone. Stripling has allowed 2.30 homers per nine, well above last year’s 0.80 HR/9 figure. Stripling had been susceptible to the longball in both 2020 and ’21.
In addition to the inconsistent production, Stripling has spent the past three weeks on the injured list with a back strain. It’s his second such IL stay of the year. He has expressed a bit of frustration with his status, telling reporters over the weekend he feels the club is keeping him on the IL beyond when he’s healthy enough to return because the team is reluctant to bump someone else off the roster. He reiterated today that he believes he’s ready for a return after throwing 50 pitches in a batting practice session.
Stripling is one of a handful of San Francisco players whose contracts have upcoming player options. Michael Conforto has an $18MM provision, while Sean Manaea will need to decide whether to retain a $12.5MM salary. Neither of those cases are as straightforward as Stripling’s, but both seem likely to return to San Francisco themselves. Conforto started slowly offensively. He’d seemed to find his stride midseason but has missed the past few weeks with a hamstring strain. Manaea lost his rotation spot early on and has worked mostly in multi-inning relief. Despite a solid 27.2% strikeout rate, he owns an even 5.00 ERA through 93 2/3 frames.