The Giants won 107 games last season, earning the NL West crown and ending an eight-year streak of division titles for the Dodgers. Expectations were high for another strong season in 2022, though the club has fallen short. They are currently 68-74, placing them 30 1/2 games behind the Dodgers in the division and 10 games out of a Wild Card spot. Although some changes will surely be coming to the roster, it seems like there will be continuity elsewhere.
“We are fully behind [president of baseball operations] Farhan [Zaidi] and [manager] Gabe [Kapler] and the coaching staff,” chairman Greg Johnson said, per Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic. “We recognize that you have a team that did get older and that presents some challenges, and a farm system that I would say hasn’t progressed as quickly as we’d like to see. There’s been some injuries to key people and COVID has set back the timeline on development in some cases. But the general direction, the tone, the work ethic, the dedication that these guys put in every day, and the morale we see even in a tough year, we’re very much committed to Farhan and his team.”
When Johnson was asked if he could see Zaidi sticking around beyond the end of his contract, which runs through 2023, he said that he could.
It would appear that Zaidi and his team will get at least 2023, but likely longer, to try and find better results. That will likely lead to an aggressive offseason, with Zaidi already expressing that “everything is on the table,” in comments earlier this month, “including going out and being aggressive at the top end of the free agent market.” Talking about it and doing it are different things, of course, though the club is reportedly considering Aaron Judge and some marquee shortstops this winter.
Those kinds of moves won’t come cheap, but the conditions are there for the Giants to pull the trigger. The club ran out an Opening Day payroll of $155M this year, per Cot’s Baseball Contracts, though was in the $200M range before Zaidi came aboard.
When asked about whether the club would consider that of spending again, Johnson said, “If it was $175 (million) or $180 (million) or higher than that, we’re willing to do that. There’s going to be years when you have three or four (prospects) coming up ready to roll, and that may put some relief on payroll. Or you have years when you’ll have to fill some spots and pay extra. That’s the flexible approach that we’re taking. There’s no fixed line.”
The club currently has about $96M committed to 2023, in the estimation of Jason Martinez of Roster Resource. That doesn’t include raises for arbitration-eligible players like Mike Yastrzemski and Logan Webb, but it does include the $22.5M salary that Carlos Rodón is set to earn next year. However, he is almost certainly going to exercise the opt-out in his deal and return to free agency based on his excellent season. Through 162 2/3 innings, he has a 2.93 ERA, 32.5% strikeout rate, 7.4% walk rate and 35.1% ground ball rate (stats coming into Wednesday). Though there have been durability concerns around the southpaw, he’s stayed healthy this year and gone 30 innings longer than last year, when he seemingly ran out of gas.
With Rodón off the books, the Giants will have tremendous amounts of payroll space, though that will obviously make the team worse. It’s possible the club could look to bring him back with another contract, which is something that seems to be on the table.
“I know he’s mentioned he’s been happy here and would have interest in coming back. That’s always a big part of the equation, whether players have an interest in coming back, and he does,” Zaidi told Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area. “He’s certainly a guy that we’d love to see back. He’s done a great job for us.”
A pitcher of Rodón’s caliber will likely require a nine-figure deal of some kind, just like signing Judge or one of the top available shortstops. While fans of the club are surely excited about the possibility of those bold strikes, the team will also have to consider other moves, such as retaining Joc Pederson. The club signed him to a one-year, $6M deal that has turned into one of the bright spots this year in San Fran. Pederson has hit 22 home runs so far this year and slashed .268/.349/.521, leading to a career-high wRC+ of 141. Zaidi tells Pavlovic that it’s possible they will work out an extension in the next few weeks, before Pederson returns to free agency.
“We’ve expressed interest and there’s still some time until the end of the season and free agency hits, so we’ll just continue to see if there’s a match out there,” Zaidi says.
One Giant who will be back next year is lefty Alex Wood, as he still has one year left on the two-year deal signed just under a year ago. That came on the heels of a one-year deal for 2021 that saw Wood throw 138 2/3 innings with an ERA of 3.83. He hasn’t been able to replicate that here in 2022, however, registering a 5.10 ERA through 130 2/3 innings. Wood could theoretically finish strong over the season’s final weeks and improve the final tally, though it’s possible he may not get the chance. He’s been on the IL since early September due to a left shoulder impingement and will decide this weekend whether he can return, per Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. A return to form for Wood would be huge for the 2023 Giants, especially if they can’t convince Rodón to return.