On Saturday, the Texas Rangers announced that veteran pitcher Andrew Heaney had exercised his $13 million player option for 2024. His decision could serve as an indicator of what to expect from Sean Manaea.
Could Andrew Heaney's decision be a sign of what to expect from SF Giants hurler?
Monday will be a busy day for the baseball offseason. Most team and player options will need to be finalized as well as whether certain free agents will receive a qualifying offer. That latter detail likely does not apply to any Giants free agents.
However, they do have three players with opt-out decisions, including Manaea, Michael Conforto, and Ross Stripling. It has already been confirmed that Stripling will remain with San Francisco after a disappointing 2023 campaign.
On the other hand, Manaea and Conforto have been mum on what their plans are for next season. Manaea signed a two-year, $25 million contract last winter. This included an opt-out clause after the first season.
The left-handed hurler is very much a fringe candidate to opt out of the final year of his deal. This is compounded by the fact that this year's pitching class in free agency is shaping up to be a strong one, headlined by Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Blake Snell.
The Heaney decision could be serve as a guide for Manaea. It is not an apples-to-apples comparison, but they were close enough in terms of performance last year to serve as a benchmark. Heaney posted a 4.15 ERA, 4.66 FIP, 1.37 WHIP, 9.2 K/9, and a 2.52 SO/W ratio in 147.1 innings while being worth 1.3 fWAR for the Rangers last season.
On the other hand, Manaea registered a 4.44 ERA, 3.90 FIP, 1.24 WHIP, 9.8 K/9, and a 3.05 SO/W ratio while being worth 1.1 fWAR across 117.2 innings for the Giants last year. Both pitchers get a healthy number of strikeouts, generally limit walks, and have been plagued by the long ball. Manaea got off to an abysmal start that included being relegated to the bullpen but finished the year on a high note, recording a 2.67 ERA in five September appearances.
Recent performance definitely holds weight for teams in free agency, but it is not yet known how much weight teams would put on a solid finish to the season for Manaea. That is one thing that the 31-year-old pitcher and his representatives need to determine. If Heaney had opted out, it could have paved the way for Manaea to do the same.
It is likely that Heaney would have received more guaranteed money in free agency. Perhaps, signing a two-year deal in the neighborhood of $25 million would not have been out of the question. The lefty pitcher would not have received a raise from his $13 million salary for 2024, but adding another year to the deal could have been on the table.
The same could be said for Manaea. He likely will not receive a raise from his $12.5 million salary for next season but could score another two-year deal at a similar rate. There are qualitative factors that are hard to overlook as well.
For starters, Heaney just helped the Rangers secure their first World Series title in franchise history. Being in a competitive environment is an important factor in any player's decision and that likely held considerable weight for the 10-year veteran.
On the other hand, Manaea is represented by super agent Scott Boras. Boras gets his players paid and if there is a chance to earn more money, he usually does exactly that. Manaea could likely earn more guaranteed money in free agency. How much more remains to be seen, but teams would have interest that Boras could leverage.
Interestingly, Giants team president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi reached out to Manaea for his opinion on Bob Melvin prior to the hiring. Melvin had managed Manaea for his first seven seasons in the majors.
Perhaps, it was a professional courtesy for Manaea to respond, but it is interesting that he was a small part in the decision to hire Melvin when his own status for next season is up in the air. One way or the other, the Giants will know what the eight-year veteran plans to do by the end of Monday.