This morning, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi addressed the club’s priorities ahead of what’s sure to be a busy offseason (via Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area and Andrew Baggarly of the Athletic). Zaidi made clear the team regards its starting rotation as its “number one priority.” The Giants’ president also effectively confirmed they intend to bring back Buster Posey (by at least exercising his $22MM club option) and hope to re-sign Brandon Belt for what would be his twelfth season in San Francisco.
That the Giants intend to focus their offseason attention on addressing their needs in the rotation comes as no surprise. Presuming they pay Johnny Cueto’s $5MM buyout rather than pick up his $22MM option, four of the five members of a group that led the club to a 3.44 rotation ERA (Kevin Gausman, Anthony DeSclafani, Alex Wood, and Cueto) are set to hit free agency. Only breakout star Logan Webb, who won’t reach free agency until at least 2026, remains under team control.
Zaidi made clear he hopes to bring back at least some of this year’s rotation, stating that “we want to keep as much of this group together as we can,” but he’ll face stiff competition for several of the arms in question. Gausman figures to be among the top starters on the market (alongside Max Scherzer, Robbie Ray, and Marcus Stroman) and won’t be eligible for the qualifying offer that might have scared off some suitors after he accepted the Giants’ QO last winter. DeSclafani (who made $6MM in 2021) and Wood ($3MM) are each in line to land much bigger salaries moving forward after each posted a bounceback year in his first season in the Golden City.
Zaidi’s confirmation that the club plans to keep Posey in the mix for 2022 is similarly unsurprising after the longtime Giants backstop put up a .304/.390/.499 line in 2021 after sitting out the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. The club’s intention to either pick up Posey’s 2022 option or sign him to an extension had also already been reported in August by MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, but Zaidi’s comments reiterate the commitment of Giants’ brass to their franchise catcher. Still, as Posey will be entering his age-35 season, any extension is likely to be on the shorter side, perhaps similar to the two-year pact reached with shortstop Brandon Crawford in June.
Belt put up a similarly excellent .274/.378/.597 line in 2021 (albeit in only 381 plate appearances), so the club will likely face some competition in re-signing the first baseman from two of its three 2010’s title teams. Zaidi told reporters today he’d already been in dialogue with Belt’s representation before the season’s end and they still hope to re-sign him.
After a 107-win season that ended in heartbreaking fashion, the Giants’ desire to run it back with a similar squad is certainly understandable. The Giants have largely bucked the youth wave sweeping the game, and whether or not manager Gabe Kapler can deliver the mix-and-match lineup magic of 2021 for another year remains to be seen. Crucially, so does their ability to bring back the bulk of a rotation that put them in position to lead the big leagues in wins.