The non-tender deadline came and went on Friday. The SF Giants agreed to terms with two outfield bats, but they also made a trio of surprise moves in non-tendering Cole Waites, Thomas Szapucki, and José Cruz, according to a team announcement.
SF Giants cut ties with three pitchers on the 40-man roster
The non-tender deadline is a bit of a unique day in baseball. Teams have to decide whether to keep each of their arbitration-eligible players for the upcoming season. However, it is a day in which teams can non-tender pre-arbitration players, thereby making them free agents.
This approach has value as it allows teams to trim the 40-man roster without exposing players to waivers. If a player is on waivers, then the team runs the risk of losing them through a waiver claim. Oftentimes, when a pre-arbitration player is non-tendered, it is done so with the intention of trying to re-sign him.
That could very well be the case with each of the players the Giants non-tendered on Friday. Waites is expected to miss the 2024 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery late in the 2023 campaign. Across two seasons, he has posted a 6.75 ERA in 10 sporadic appearances with the Giants.
The right-handed hurler has struggled mightily with control in Triple-A. When he is right, he has a mid-90's fastball with a quality slider.
Szapucki had a realy nice showing for the Giants down the stretch in 2022. He posted a 1.98 ERA in 13.2 frames following a midseason trade with the New York Mets. However, he underwent Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) surgery at the start of the season and was not able to make it back to the mound.
Lastly, Cruz is an example of the Giants being a little too aggressive in protecting pitchers from the Rule 5 draft. He posted a 2.06 ERA with 86 strikeouts against 23 walks in 52.1 frames for the San Jose Giants (Low-A) in 2022. The Giants added him to the 40-man roster last year because they thought he would get scooped up in the Rule 5 draft if left unprotected.
That being said, being on the 40-man roster forced him to be moved up the minor league ladder a little quicker than expected. He posted a 4.47 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 13.6 K/9, and a 1.76 SO/W ratio in 44.1 innings across two levels, including 25.2 innings at Double-A. The control still has a long way to go before he can become an option in the majors. Nevertheless, those 40-man roster spots are valuable, especially in the offseason and it feels like a misstep by the front office in adding him.
I would expect at least one of the three players to re-sign, if not more. The 40-man roster now stands at 36.
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