In a lot of ways, last year's offseason needed to be a big one for the SF Giants. They had the money to spend and were seen as a top destination in free agency. However, they missed out on Aaron Judge and Carlos Correa for different reasons.
They pivoted toward both quantity and quality with Michael Conforto, Mitch Haniger, Ross Stripling, Sean Manaea, and Taylor Rogers. Joc Pederson was re-signed as well but the returns from that spending have been abysmal.
The SF Giants free-agent class from last winter has been abysmal
Rogers is excluded from this as he has had a nice year, posting a 2.72 ERA, 3.62 FIP, 1.10 WHIP, 10.7 K/9, and a 2.50 SO/W ratio in 53 appearances. The veteran pitcher has been Gabe Kapler's best left-handed option out of the bullpen.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the rest of the class. The Giants retained Pederson after he accepted a one-year, $19.65 million qualifying offer. That was a steep cost for a DH-only player but the left-handed bat was coming off of an All-Star season. Though, it was likely better than the alternative of signing him to a multi-year deal. It is hard for a one-year deal to be bad regardless of the cost because it is wiped away from the books after just one season.
And, to Pederson's credit, he has not been that bad at the plate. He has registered a .239/.351/.416 line (111 OPS+) with 12 home runs, 44 RBI, and 49 runs in 348 plate appearances. The power, however, has seemingly disappeared. You want to see him make more of an impact with the bat, but he is far from the lineup's biggest concern.
On the pitching side, the Giants added Manaea and Stripling to identical two-year, $25 million contracts. These include opt-outs after the first season, but it is hard to imagine either player exercising that opt-out.
Manaea was coming off of a down year but he a track record of success and better durability than many of the Giants' pitchers. He has struggled to the tune of a 4.96 ERA across 90.2 frames, but a 3.99 FIP that suggests that he has pitched better than his ERA. The lefty's control has eroded in 2023, but he has done well to keep the ball in the park.
Unlike Manaea, Stripling was coming off of a solid 2022 campaign in which he tallied a 3.01 ERA in 32 appearances for the Toronto Blue Jays. The eight-year veteran relies on a five-pitch mix and pinpoint command to get opposing hitters out. However, his command has not been as strong as it has been in the past as he has a 5.29 in 19 outings for San Francisco. Stripling is set to return soon but innings might be limited for him down the stretch.
The Giants added a pair of veteran bats in Michael Conforto and Mitch Haniger. Both Conforto and Haniger had track records of production but had missed substantial time in recent seasons. Conforto missed all of the 2022 season whereas Haniger had appeared in over 100 games just twice in his seven-year career.
Though, those predictable track records have not carried over since joining San Francisco. Conforto is currently on the injured list but had a .748 OPS in 426 plate appearances prior to that. On the other hand, Haniger has missed substantial time in 2023 and has posted a rough .634 OPS in 177 plate appearances when healthy.
No one's struggles have been as pronounced as Haniger. And, his production at the plate embodies jus how poorly last year's free-agent class has performed for the Giants.
In fairness, a lot of teams are in the same boat. The New York Yankees re-signed Aaron Judge and added Carlos Rodón. Judge has been excellent when healthy, but Rodón has labored through nine outings to start his Yankees career. I do not think that what other teams do really gives the Giants a pass. Nevertheless, there is no denying that last year's aggressive spending has not paid off for San Francisco. It is frustrating trend and the Giants have to ask themselves why so many established players have underperformed in 2023.