Longtime first baseman Brandon Belt will be returning for his 12th season in an SF Giants uniform as he accepted a one-year, $18.4 million qualifying offer. The 33-year-old was one of 14 players to receive a qualifying offer this offseason, but he was the only one to accept it.
SF Giants first baseman Brandon Belt accepts $18.4 million qualifying offer
There were several reasons why Belt was the exception to the rule including age and an extensive injury history. That said, the left-handed slugger has seemingly found the right environment to thrive and the qualifying offer was the easiest avenue to returning to that environment.
Belt just finished a five-year, $72.8 million ($14.6 million AAV) contract that he signed at the beginning of the 2016 season. His 2022 salary represents a nice raise after the former fifth-round pick capped off a career year at the plate.
In 381 plate appearances, Belt registered a .274/.378/.597 line (160 OPS+) with 29 home runs, 59 RBI, and 65 runs scored. In typical fashion, he proved to be one of the more patient hitters in baseball as he posted a 12.6 percent walk rate.
His offensive resurgence is part of a trend that the left-handed hitter has experienced over the past couple of seasons. In fact, only Juan Soto (171 wRC+) and Bryce Harper (164 wRC+) have been better than Belt (163 wRC+) at the plate since the beginning of 2020.
Of course, durability is the factor that limits Belt's upside. The 11-year veteran sustained a knee injury that put him on the shelf for six weeks in the middle of the 2021 season and he finished the year on the injured list after a baseball deflected off of his thumb, thereby breaking it on a bunt attempt.
It was impossible to ignore that the lineup just did not have the same thump once he went down. Despite these injury concerns, there is not much risk in a one-year contract.
Now that Belt has accepted the qualifying offer, he will return as the longest-tenured player in a Giants uniform on the active roster. His major league debut occurred two months before Brandon Crawford earned a promotion to the Giants roster.
The SF Giants have locked up a key bat for the 2022 season. The return of Belt gives them an impact bat and a steady glove at first base. Their attention will turn to the starting rotation as they will need to find a way to fill at least four rotation spots this offseason.