The offseason landscaping has officially begun as four SF Giants players from the 2022 season have elected free agency. Joc Pederson, Brandon Belt, Shelby Miller, and José Álvarez hit the open market on Sunday following the conclusion of the World Series.
4 SF Giant players elect free agency as the offseason begins
The transaction log shows that Scott Alexander has elected free agency as well but that must have been a typo for Miller. Alexander is arbitration-eligible this winter at a very affordable rate.
Belt and Álvarez finished the year on the 60-day injured list after undergoing season-ending surgery, so the 40-man roster is only reduced by two with Pederson and Miller due to today's transactions. They will have a busy week coming up as eight players are currently on the 60-day injured list and need to be activated when free agency begins.
Pederson and Belt are the most notable Giants players from the group. The former was an NL All-Star while slashing .274/.353/.521 (144 OPS+) with 23 home runs, 70 RBI, and 57 runs in 433 plate appearances. Pederson led the Giants in most meaningful offensive categories.
The Giants have expressed interest in retaining the 30-year-old but they will have to compete for him on the open market. If he does return, it will likely need to be in a different role defensively as he graded out as one of the worst outfielders in baseball.
Belt becomes a free agent for the second straight offseason. The longtime Giants first baseman battled a nagging knee injury and underwent knee surgery at the beginning of September to alleviate the pain. He is expected to be ready by spring training.
The knee ailment clearly affected Belt's production at the plate as he recorded a .213/.326/.350 line (92 OPS+) with just eight home runs, 23 RBI, and 25 runs in 298 plate appearances. He just could not drive the ball like we have seen from him in recent seasons.
The Giants will have a decision to make on Belt. Team president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi left the door open for his return but it sounded as if it will need to make sense for the Giants in terms of financial commitment.
On the other hand, José Álvarez underwent Tommy John surgery in September. He is expected to miss most of the 2023 season. The left-handed reliever struggled to the tune of a 5.28 ERA in 21 appearances with San Francisco before landing on the 60-day injured list with elbow soreness. That soreness would eventually lead to surgery but Álvarez hoped that he would be able to pitch again when he originally landed on the injured list.
Shelby Miller had a brief audition with the Giants at the end of the 2022 season. The former top prospect recorded 14 strikeouts in seven innings but it came with a 6.43 ERA. ERA in small samples can be misleading given that one bad outing can really impact the overall stat line. Miller looked good in his brief showing and could be a candidate to return on a minor league deal.