The debate about retaining Kevin Gausman often revolves around the concept that it was either him or Carlos Rodón. However, that concept is arguably too narrow and the decision could easily be framed as Gausman or any one of the four starters that the Giants signed in the offseason.
Are the SF Giants regretting not bringing back All-Star starter Kevin Gausman?
Gausman signed a five-year, $110 million pact with the Toronto Blue Jays in the offseason after two stellar years with San Francisco. To make matters worse, the 31-year-old starter revealed that San Francisco never even made an offer.
Until proven otherwise, the Giants' front office is reluctant to hand out contracts in excess of three years. The idea behind this makes some sense as the Giants are managing risk in a way by not having to pay for a player's underperforming seasons at the end of the deal.
Rather than re-sign Gausman, the Giants handled out multi-year contracts to Rodón, Alex Wood, Alex Cobb, and Anthony DeSclafani. Rodón's deal is the only one of the four that has paid off so far and the 29-year-old lefty will likely opt-out in the offseason, thereby becoming a free agent.
With all of these moves along with re-signing Brandon Belt and adding Joc Pederson, the Giants have a payroll of approximately $175 million against the Competitive Balance Tax (CBT). This is a modest increase from the $169 million CBT payroll they had last season according to Fangraphs.
After the Giants won 107 games last season and considering that the CBT threshold increased to $230 million in the offseason, there was plenty of expectation that the Giants would spend more in free agency. However, that did not exactly come to fruition as many fans expected.
The Giants signed a top arm in Rodón and several more mid-rotation arms to two or three-year deals. The conversation around Rodón tends to focus on the Giants being able to sign only one type of pitcher of that caliber.
That is just not true. San Francisco could have certainly afforded both Rodón as well as Kevin Gausman and that is looking like a move they are going to regret. If Gausman's contract replaces one of Wood, Cobb, or DeSclafani, then the Giants' payroll would increase to about $187 million against the tax, which is still way below the threshold.
Plus, it bears mentioning that this Giants team does not have a lot in the way of excitement for a variety of reasons, but bringing back Gausman, who became a fan favorite, would have injected a little extra excitement.
In the first year of his deal with the Blue Jays, the 31-year-old pitcher has tallied a 2.86 ERA, 1.68 FIP, 1.27 WHIP, 10.2 K/9, and a 6.25 SO/W ratio in 16 starts. He could be on his way to his second straight All-Star appearance as well.
At 40-38, the Giants are still treading water but not playing well at all. At this point, they are straddling the line between doing nothing or selling at the trade deadline.
Would retaining Gausman have improved this team's outlook? The Giants have a lot of holes on the roster, so they are more than just one player away from competing in a tough NL West. Nevertheless, it would have been a step in the right direction.
However, the choice was never either Gausman or Rodón. They had plenty of payroll flexibility to afford both options and this is beginning to look like a move that they will regret.