SF Giants reminded of biggest recent mistake in facing off against Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto Blue Jays v Miami Marlins
Toronto Blue Jays v Miami Marlins / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

The Toronto Blue Jays have two prominent former SF Giants players on the roster in Kevin Gausman and Brandon Belt. The Giants made the tough decision to move on from Belt this past winter, but letting Gausman walk still stings.

SF Giants reminded of biggest recent mistake in facing off against Toronto Blue Jays

The front office deserves a lot of credit for the roster it has put together in 2023. Key contributors like J.D. Davis, Thairo Estrada, and LaMonte Wade Jr. were essentially castoffs by their previous teams.

The roster has been supplemented by a handful of rookies including Casey Scmitt, Patrick Bailey, Blake Sabol, and Luis Matos. Schmitt, Bailey, and Sabol were all drafted or acquired by the current front office, whereas Matos was signed as an international free agent by the prior regime.

The front office has done just about everything in its power to mitigate performance and cost risk. They have been adverse to any type of long-term deals as they have not issued a free-agent contract in excess of three years yet.

This has given them a lot of financial flexibility to bolster the roster. Plus, even when a contract does not work out as was the case with Tommy La Stella, the financial commitment did not preclude them from signing other players.

It seems like they are trying to stay ahead of the curve by avoiding the possibility of any type of underperforming, long-term contract. With that being said, there is one move they might still regret and that is passing on Gausman.

The Giants signed the right-handed hurler prior to the 2020 season. He was coming off of a year in which he posted a 5.72 ERA in 31 appearances split between the Atlanta Braves and the Cincinnati Reds.

That signing paid massive dividends as Gausman quickly became one of the top pitchers in baseball. In his two years with San Francisco, the 32-year-old registered a 3.00 ERA in 45 appearances, including 43 starts.

This included a 2021 campaign in which he generated a 2.81 ERA in 33 starts while earning an NL All-Star nod and finishing in sixth place in the Cy Young voting. He was a workhouse and an excellent producer for the Giants. Not only that, Gausman quickly became a popular player within the fanbase. His production was solid, but his personality was an excellent fit for the Giants culture.

So, when he entered free agency after 2021, it felt like an obvious match for a reunion. That did not come to fruition. And, the Giants never made a concerted effort to re-sign him as they knew the righty would command a contract well beyond their comfort zone.

The Blue Jays reeled in the star pitcher on a five-year, $110 million deal. That is a massive investment for a pitcher, but one that has paid off nicely for Toronto.

Since the start of 2022, he has posted a 3.26 ERA, 2.50 FIP, 1.20 WHIP, 10.9 K/9, and a 6.26 SO/W ratio across 47 starts. He has been worth 8.8 fWAR, which is first among all starting pitchers during that time. Plus, he finished in ninth place in the AL Cy Young voting last year. It was his second straight top-10 finish.

There is no denying that Gausman has been one of the better pitchers since the start of 2020. The Giants could certainly use that type of arm as the rotation is beginning to leak oil, but they will have to look elsewhere to bolster the rotation.

It is fair to say that this might be the biggest misstep since the new front office took over in November of 2018. They deserve credit for helping him get his career back on track, but it feels like the relationship should have been more than just two years.

The Giants face off against Toronto on the road. Both teams are in the thick of the playoff hunt as the Giants have a 44-34 record, whereas the Blue Jays sit in fourth place with a 43-36 record in a tough AL East.

The Giants will quickly be reminded of letting Gausman walk as he is slated to face off against them in the first game of the series on Tuesday. The Giants have done well since Gausman signed in Toronto, but it is hard to ignore what could have been between the two parties.