The SF Giants were dealt a tough blow as right-handed hurler Kevin Gausman signed a five-year, $110 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. Replacing his production will be a very difficult task, but there are a few targets who might be able to lessen the blow.
Three SF Giants pitching targets that could replace Kevin Gausman in the rotation
Kevin Gausman had a strong season in which he registered a 2.81 ERA, 3.00 FIP, 1.04 WHIP, 10.6 K/9, and a 4.54 SO/W ratio across 192 innings with the Giants. San Francisco set a franchise record with 107 wins in the regular season and they could not have done that without Gausman's production.
They will have to find a way to replicate some of that production, which is going to be a difficult task given that many of the top free agents have already signed. There are still a couple available on the market and one who might be available through a trade.
1. Sonny Gray
Cincinnati Reds right-handed hurler Sonny Gray is on the trade market along with rotation mates Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle. The Reds will likely seek a significant return for Castillo as he has established himself as a top-of-the-rotation type of arm, whereas Mahle is coming off of a strong season and he has multiple years of control.
That leaves Gray as an arm that the Giants could acquire at a more modest cost. The 32-year-old righty posted a 4.19 ERA, 3.99 FIP, 1.21 WHIP, 10.3 K/9, and a 3.10 SO/W ratio in 26 starts with the Reds in 2021.
These stats do not jump off of the page, but Gray might perform better with a change of scenery. The nine-year veteran generated a 3.44 ERA on the road last season, whereas he struggled to the tune of a 4.89 ERA at home while being unusually prone to the long ball. The Great American Ballpark is one of the more hitter-friendly fields in the game, so a move to a more pitcher-friendly ballpark like Oracle Park should pay dividends.
On the surface, he did not have an impressive season last year. But, he does record a lot of strikeouts while limiting walks, induces ground balls (52.3% career ground ball rate) at a healthy rate, and does well to avoid the sweet spot of the bat (4.7% barrel rate). These are the ingredients that the Giants target in a pitcher, so there is reason to believe that he is a legitimate trade target.
The next question is cost. The Reds set an unusually low precedent earlier in the offseason by allowing veteran lefty Wade Miley to be claimed off of waivers by the Chicago Cubs. The only thing that they got in return was cost savings. Could they be interested in a similar move for Gray?
Gray signed a four-year, $38 million deal before the 2019 season, meaning that his CBT hit is $9.5 million for next season. Miley is set to earn $10 million in 2022, so both are in the same neighborhood in terms of cost. The Reds already let one go, so the bar for a pitcher of Gray's caliber might be unusually low and one that the Giants could easily afford.