Monday was a busy day for baseball as it represented the official start of free agency. For the SF Giants, Michael Conforto was the lone option decision remaining and he decided to opt into the final year of his deal. Jon Heyman of the New York Post was the first to break the news.
Former All-Star opts to remain with the SF Giants
The Giants had three players with opt-out clauses and one with a team option. The players with opt-outs included Conforto, Ross Stripling, and Sean Manaea. Manaea was the only one of the three to exercise his opt-out clause. On the other hand, the Giants made the easy decision to pick up Alex Cobb's $10 million team option.
Conforto had signed a two-year, $36 million pact with the Giants prior to the 2023 season. He underwent offseason shoulder surgery in 2022, causing him to miss that entire year. Given that he missed a full year, his market was understandably depressed.
The Giants gave him a chance to make considerable guaranteed money over the next two seasons as well as an opportunity to re-enter the market for the larger payday after the first year if he performed.
That did not exactly come to fruition as the left-handed bat slashed .239/.334/.384 (100 wRC+) with 15 home runs, 58 RBI, and 58 runs in 470 plate appearances. This included a solid 11.3 percent walk rate, 22.6 percent strikeout rate, and a .145 ISO. The ISO was the lowest of his career, which is a concerning trend for someone who recently had major shoulder surgery.
The 30-year-old does not offer much in terms of baserunning or defensive value, so his contributions on the field rely primarily on his bat. Given this, if he opted out of his contract, there would not have been a strong market for his services. He might have been able to get a tad bit more in terms of guaranteed money than the $18 million he will earn next year, but even that would have been a gamble.
Returning to the Giants makes some sense for Conforto, especially on the financial side. And, the Giants hope that he can regain the form that once made him an All-Star with the New York Mets earlier in his career.
The Giants have more clarity of their roster as they head into the winter. They will be tasked with trying to bolster the outfield, which might be easier said than done. San Francisco has a lot of outfielders under contract for next season but none are particularly strong options currently.