SF Giants Gifts: Kevin Gausman Big Contract Year
Kevin Gausman was coming off the worst season of his career in 2020. In 2019, splitting his time between Atlanta and Cincinnati, he managed just 102.1 innings and a 5.72 ERA. Fielding independent metrics, like FIP, were higher on Gausman’s 2019 season, suggesting he’d actually suffered from terrible 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.
This offseason, the Giants offered Gausman a qualifying offer, valued at one-year, $18.9 million to ensure they at least recouped draft pick compensation if he departed. Instead, he decided to re-sign with the team on another one-year deal. While he’ll be better paid next season, another strong campaign could set him up for a massive payday next offseason.
If the Giants want to be competitors next season, Gausman will need to replicate his performance from 2020. Luckily for them, Gausman has all the incentives in the world to try and take another step. He will not turn 31 until 2022, and coming off two strong campaigns with his career track-record as a mid-rotation arm, Gausman would seem like an obvious candidate for a multi-year deal with more than $50 million in guarantees.