With a maximum of four games remaining in the 2020 baseball season, the baseball offseason is inching closer and some key dates will be coming up quickly for the SF Giants.
The SF Giants have previously discussed offseason priorities, and they have deadlines coming up as it pertains to free agency and the 40-man roster.
Below is a list of key dates and decisions:
October 29 through November 2 – Players officially become free agents, and teams have an exclusive negotiating window with these players. It is very unusual for teams to strike a deal with any of their pending free agents, but the pandemic could throw normality out the window.
The Giants list of key free agents includes Kevin Gausman, Drew Smyly, Trevor Cahill, and Tony Watson. You could throw Jeff Samardzija into the mix, but he was designated for assignment just before the season ended. The Giants have expressed interest in retaining both Gausman and Smyly.
November 2 – Qualifying offers are due. MLB set the qualifying offer at $18.9 million for 2021, and the Giants could, in theory, issue a qualifying offer to Gausman. If he accepts, then he is under contract for 2021. If he rejects it and signs elsewhere, the Giants would gain an extra draft pick. I would put the odds of this as highly unlikely. Players who are issued a qualifying offer will have about ten days to make a decision.
November 9 through November 12 – The GM meetings take place. Not a lot of activity normally takes place during this time, but the Giants did send Joe Nathan, Boof Bonser, and Francisco Liriano to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for catcher A.J. Pierzynski in 2003. It is not a pleasant reminder.
This is typically where trade discussions for the Winter Meetings originate.
November 20 – The SF Giants will need to set their 40-man roster to protect prospects from the Rule 5 draft. Baseball rules regarding who is and is not eligible for the Rule 5 draft are very nuanced. The good news is Roger Munter from There R Giants concluded that intriguing prospects Alexander Canario, Camilo Doval, and Tyler Cyr are the likeliest prospects to be added to the 40-man roster thereby removing them from Rule 5 consideration.
December 2 – The deadline to tender contracts for each of the Giants 11 arbitration-eligible players. The most notable names from the group include infielder Donovan Solano and outfielder Alex Dickerson. The rest of the group is listed below:
If the Giants decide to not tender a contract for any of the 11 players, then those players will become free agents.
December 6 through December 10 – The Winter Meetings take place. Though, given the current state of the pandemic, I would not be surprised if this takes place virtually.
During this time, much of the offseason heavy lifting is done as free agent signings are announced and trades are consummated. If a trade does not happen, discussions may continue after the Winter Meetings.
December 10 – The Rule 5 draft takes place. Since Farhan Zaidi has taken over, the Giants have been active participants in the draft. It is usually geared toward teams who are lacking in depth, and teams can find a gem or two.
In 2018, the Giants selected both outfielder Drew Ferguson and reliever Travis Bergen. In 2019, they selected bullpen arm Dany Jimenez. None of the three names made it through a full season, and thus, were returned to their original teams.
December 11 through January 31, 2021 – This is usually when minor league signings and Spring Training invites are announced. The Giants have found some solid role players on minor league free deals including Donovan Solano, Sam Selman, and Darin Ruf.
By the end of the offseason, the SF Giants will hopefully have added starting pitcher depth, veteran relievers, and a left-handed bat. I think they will avoid the high-profile names in free agency while collecting functional parts. Not necessarily the most exciting names, but the pieces that fit best to the puzzle.