The SF Giants had a busy offseason, adding several notable names to the 2023 roster. However, there is one name that stands out as a potentially great bargain for the Giants - Ross Stripling.
Could SF Giants starting pitcher signing be one of the top bargains of the winter?
The Giants signed the veteran pitcher to a two-year, $25 million deal. This includes an opt-out clause after the first season. Oddly enough, they also signed lefty starter Sean Manaea to the exact same deal.
Many of the Giants' signings this winter were closer to the Manaea-type in that they were buy-low deals for players coming off of subpar or injury-plagued seasons. Stripling is one of the few exceptions because he is coming off of a superb season.
The 33-year-old tallied a 3.01 ERA, 3.11, 1.02 WHIP, 7.4 K/9, and a 5.55 SO/W ratio in 32 appearances, including 24 starts, for the Toronto Blue Jays. This was his best season in a career that has been quiety very productive.
When the Giants made the addition, it had the feel of the Alex Cobb signing last winter or the Alex Wood deal from two offseasons ago. It is one of those moves that did not receive a lot of attention, but one that has the potential to pay immediate dividends.
Stripling's profile mirrors that of the rest of the rotation in that he does not overpower opposing hitters. His four-seam fastball sits comfortably in the low 90's, but he has excellent command, does not walk a lot of batters, and keeps the ball in the ballpark.
Giants starters had the fifth-best walk rate (2.30 BB/9) and led the league in home run rate (0.77 HR/9) in 2022. Stripling is like the type of pitcher that the Giants secretly invented in their cheat lab who performs well above his fastball.
The right-handed hurler thrived last season due in part to a strong changeup-slider combination. Opposing hitters posted a .203 batting average against the changeup and a .212 batting average against the slider.
Fangraphs' Steamer projections is expecting Stripling to regress in 2023. It is projecting that he wil;l post a 4.26 ERA in 38 appearances, which would represent the third-worst mark in his career.
Given the success that the Giants have had with pitchers in free agency, it would be mildly surprising to see Stripling struggle so much next season. Plus, he will be pitching in one of the more pitcher-friendly ballparks in baseball and he is playing another deal as well.
He has an opt-out after the first season and I bet that he feels like his market did not develop as expected. Stripling will enter his age-33 season next year, but he could be in line for a payday after this year with another solid season.
San Francisco has helped a lot of pitchers get paid in recent seasons. Stripling's profile fits what they like in a pitcher, and given the terms of the contract along with how he has performed, he could be one of the better bargains of the winter.