SF Giants free agent ace chooses next destination

Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v San Francisco Giants - Game Two
Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v San Francisco Giants - Game Two / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

At the beginning of the off-season, the SF Giants had four open rotation spots. They quickly re-signed two of their free agent pitchers, and news broke about the decision of their top former hurler on the open market Sunday evening.

SF Giants free agent ace chooses next destination

After signing with the SF Giants in the 2019 off-season, Kevin Gausman became the poster boy for the team's ability to fix reclamation projects. Gausman, the 4th-overall draft pick by the Baltimore Orioles in the 2012 draft, had become a journeyman and was used mostly as a reliever for the Cincinnati Reds in 2019.

In 2020, however, the Giants pitching coaches worked to bring him back to the promise he showed as an amateur. Gausman finished with a 3.62 ERA in 12 games (10 starts) in the COVID-shortened season, striking out 79 batters and walking just 16 in 59 2/3 innings pitched.

After accepting a qualifying offer to stay in San Francisco for 2021, Gausman was even better. He made every start and turned in a 14-6 record and 2.81 ERA, including a 1.73 ERA in the first half to earn his first All-Star Game selection. Gausman ended up earning the sixth-most votes in NL Cy Young voting after the season.

With the freedom of being an unrestricted free agent (teams cannot make qualifying offers to the same player two years in a row), Gausman had no shortage of suitors. The Giants were believed to be interested in bringing him back, even after retaining Alex Wood and Anthony DeSclafani, but their two-year ace had other plans.

While apparently on an airplane, ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan broke the news Sunday evening that Gausman intended to sign with the Toronto Blue Jays. The right-hander, who will turn 31 in January, has agreed to a five-year, $110-million contract to bolster the rotation of a Blue Jays team that finished just one game out of a playoff spot in 2021 and has a promising future with plenty of young talent.

Over his two seasons in San Francisco, Gausman compiled a 17-9 record and 3.00 ERA. He struck out 306 batters and walked 66 in 251 2/3 innings pitched while allowing just 28 home runs - an average of 1.0 per nine innings.

With Gausman signing elsewhere, the Giants still have two open spots in their rotation behind Logan Webb, Wood and DeSclafani, with plenty of options - both established and reclamation pieces - still available.