After the SF Giants decide whether to make a qualifying offer to Brandon Belt or Anthony DeSclafani, one of the next orders of business will be to make a decision on each of their eight, arbitration-eligible players.
SF Giants: Eight players are eligible for arbitration
Generally speaking, players reach arbitration after three years of service time and remain eligible for arbitration for the next three seasons. In total, players can be under their rookie contract for six seasons.
The Giants have eight players who are are still under their rookie contract and eligible for arbitration including Dominic Leone, Curt Casali, Alex Dickerson, Darin Ruf, John Brebbia, Jarlin García, Austin Slater, and Mike Yastrzemski.
Interestingly, Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs both list Leone as being a free agent after the 2021 season. However, he had a hair over five years of service time to begin the season and he was not added to the major league roster until the beginning of June. This means that he is still shy of six years of service time, so the Giants hold team control.
None of their arbitration-eligible players are expected to break the bank, but the Giants will have a couple of tough decisions to make. That said, Leone, Ruf, García, Slater and Yastrzemski will definitely be tendered a contract for 2022.
It is far less certain that the Giants will bring back Casali, Dickerson, and Brebbia at their projected arbitration figures. Dickerson and Casali have projected arbitration salaries of $3 million and $2 million, respectively.
These are not huge costs by any means, but the Giants likely feel as if they can get better value elsewhere. Casali registered a .210/.313/.350 line (81 OPS+) with five home runs and 26 RBI while being worth 0.7 WAR in 231 plate appearances.
The veteran backstop gave the Giants a reliable catcher as the coaching staff worked deliberately to manager Buster Posey's workload. Incredibly, the Giants were 42-13 in games started by Casali last season, so he has that element in his favor. Plus, the free agent market for catchers will be thin this winter and Casali gives the Giants a little extra insurance in case Joey Bart needs more minor league seasoning.
On the other hand, Alex Dickerson seems unlikely to return in 2022. The left-handed bat slashed .233/.304/.420 (95 OPS+) with 13 home runs and 38 RBI in 312 plate appearances. Dickerson appeared to lose his role down the stretch and he only saw four plate appearances against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS.
His role is to hit right-handed pitching but he struggled to the tune of a .711 OPS against righties in 2021. That role can more easily be replaced in free agency than a reliable catcher. I would expect the Giants to look in another direction for a left-handed-hitting outfielder next season.
Lastly, John Brebbia briefly appeared with the Giants last season after returning from Tommy John surgery. The right-handed hurler posted a 5.89 ERA in 18 appearances including 22 strikeouts against four walks. On the surface, Brebbia was not nearly as sharp as he was during his tenure with the St. Louis Cardinals where he posted a 3.14 ERA from 2017-2019. However, some development curve is to be expected after recovering from major elbow surgery.
The Giants liked his ability to command the strike zone and they probably want to see how he performs when he is further removed from surgery. That said, they will likely not tender a contract for Brebbia but they could bring him back on a minor league deal. The Giants' bullpen has become flush with right-handed options, so Brebbia might want to seek a new opportunity elsewhere.
The non-tender deadline is usually in the first week of December but that could be pushed back as the current CBA is expiring. If no deal is agreed to by the end of November, then the offseason will hit an immediate pause. Nevertheless, the Giants will have a couple of tough decisions to make on their arbitration-eligible players when the new CBA is agreed upon.