Ranking the top SF Giants starting pitching targets by HR/9
2. Blake Snell - 0.75 HR/9
Speaking of long-term contracts beyond the front office's comfort zone, Blake Snell is well positioned to land a deal in excess of five years. The left-handed hurler just earned his second Cy Young award and become one of just seven pitchers to win a Cy Young award in both the AL and the NL.
Snell was fantastic in 2023 as he posted a 2.25 ERA, 3.44 FIP, 1.18 WHIP, 11.7 K/9, and a 2.36 SO/W ratio in 32 starts. This includes a 44.4 percent ground ball rate and a 0.75 HR/9 ratio. The lefty pitcher is not necessarily a ground-ball pitcher in the same way as someone like Alex Cobb, but he does induce a healthy number of ground balls.
Plus, it helps that Snell had one of the higher strikeout rates in baseball. Keeping the ball on the ground is an excellent way to limit home runs, but registering a high number of strikeouts is even better at achieving that end.
There are some wrinkles in his profile as well. Snell has an unusually high walk rate in his career and that continued this past season to the tune of a 5.0 BB/9 rate. Additionally, he is not known for pitching deep into games and has often been protected from the third turn in the lineup.
Similar to Sonny Gray, Snell rejected a qualifying offer, so there is draft pick compensation tied to his name. MLB Trade Rumors predicts that he could land a seven-year, $200 million pact this winter. For that type of contract length, it is generally easier to overlook the lost draft pick than a shorter-term deal.
The Giants have been connected to Snell to some degree this offseason. It is no surprise given their need for a topline starter and the fact that he is one of the very best options on the market. It does not hurt that Bob Melvin managed Snell over these past two seasons with the San Diego Padres.