The SF Giants have identified starting pitching as an offseason priority and they may be able to tackle part of that with the qualifying offer. MLB set the qualifying offer at $18.4 million for the 2022 season, so it is a move that requires serious consideration.
The SF Giants and the aggressive use of the qualifying offer
Over the past couple of years, few teams have been as aggressive in the use of the qualifying offer than the Giants. That is a product of a few factors, but mainly it is due to a player's performance.
The Giants have two qualifying offer candidates this offseason in Brandon Belt and Anthony DeSclafani. Kevin Gausman cannot receive one given that he was issued it last offseason, whereas Kris Bryant is ineligible as a midseason trade acquisition.
Since the new front office has taken over, the Giants have issued three qualifying offers. They issued one to Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith in the 2020 offseason but they rejected it and signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Atlanta Braves, respectively. As a result, the Giants gained two compensatory picks.
In the following offseason, Gausman was issued a qualifying offer and he accepted it, keeping him in San Francisco for $18.9 million for the 2021 season. Gausman went on to anchor a rotation that was one of the best in baseball last season.
Now, the Giants are focused on this offseason. And, they have a couple of decisions to make. The qualifying offer period occurs shortly after the end of the World Series and players have 10 days to accept or reject it.
So, one of the first orders of business is whether they want to use it and for whom? Brandon Belt and Anthony DeSclafani are two candidates who seem like prime candidates for a qualifying offer after each one had a strong season in 2021.
The Giants seem motivated to keep Belt and the front office has indicated that positive dialogue for an extension has already taken place. The qualifying offer could be a starting point that leads to a longer-term contract for the 11-year veteran. The left-handed bat slashed .274/.378/.597 (160 OPS+) with 29 home runs and 59 RBI in 381 plate appearances, so it makes sense that the Giants are interested in retaining Belt.
On the other hand, the Giants have to fill four sports in the rotation and they can make a lot of progress by issuing one to DeSclafani. The right-handed hurler registered a 3.17 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 3.62 FIP, 8.2 K/9, and a strong 3.62 SO/W ratio across 167. 2 frames in 2021. The qualifying offer is an appropriate reward for this type of performance.
That said, DeSclafani might be in a different position as a free agent compared to Belt. At 31-years-old, he will be in the market for a deal of at least three years. This means that he would likely not accept a qualifying offer but the Giants would receive draft pick compensation if he signed elsewhere.
The Giants will have some decisions to make on a couple of their key players from the 2021 season as soon as the World Series comes to a close. Both Belt and DeSclafani are set to hit the open market soon, but they may have to decide on a qualifying offer early in the offseason. The Giants have been aggressive with it in the past, so it stands to reason that they will use it this offseason as a reward for a job well done for both players.