Starting pitcher Kevin Gausman has accepted his qualifying offer and will sign a one-year, $18.9 million contract to remain with the SF Giants.
In the biggest SF Giants news of this offseason, free-agent starting pitcher Kevin Gausman has accepted his qualifying offer, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN. For the second consecutive season, Gausman will join the Giants rotation on a one-year deal. Of course, the qualifying offer is worth more than double his originally scheduled salary in 2020 ($18.9 million to $9 million).
Gausman was a fourth overall pick back in the 2012 MLB draft by the Orioles. He quickly ascended to the major leagues and earned a spot in their starting rotation. However, in six MLB seasons in Baltimore, he never took the final step to become a top-flight starter that some thought he would.
Over his career, Gausman has been a solid mid-rotation arm. In 985.1 career innings, he’s held opponents to a 4.26 ERA (4.06 FIP) and posted a 3.16 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In 2019 though, splitting his time between Atlanta and Cincinnati, he managed just 102.1 innings and a 5.72 ERA. Coming off the worst performance of his career, his free-agent prospects were far from what they could have been.
Fielding independent metrics, like FIP, were higher on Gausman’s 2019 season, suggesting he’d actually suffered from incredibly bad luck. Gausman posted a then career-high 10 strikeouts per nine innings and recorded a FIP of 3.98. With plenty of front-offices intrigued by his peripherals, teams were targetting him as a bounceback candidate. He signed with the Giants on a one-year, $9 million pact to rebuild his value.
The deal worked out great for both sides. Gausman was easily the team’s best starter all season. He produced the highest strikeout rate of his career and maintained an above-average 3.62 ERA. Once again FIP (3.09) and other advanced metrics were even higher on his performance, suggesting he’d suffered from some bad luck. Although admittedly, this disparity is far more in-line with his career gap between ERA and FIP than in 2019.
It seemed like Gausman was making a strong case to stick with the Giants beyond this season. Around the Foghorn’s own, Nick San Miguel was adamant the team needed to retain their most trustworthy arm in 2020. By offering him a qualifying offer, the Giants ensured they would at least receive a compensation pick if he left. Instead, they’ll be happy to welcome him back into the fold next season.
With Marcus Stroman, one of the few free-agent starters comparable to Kevin Gausman, accepting his qualifying offer from the Mets on Wednesday, it became even more important for the SF Giants to retain their best free-agent. Without Gausman, it was hard to envision the team building a strong starting rotation in 2021. Surely, Giants brass is happy they no longer have to consider that possibility.