Giants give Belt a qualifying offer

Pitchers DeSclafani, Wood do not receive QOs

November 7th, 2021

The Giants extended a one-year, $18.4 million qualifying offer to on Sunday, marking the club’s first step at attempting to retain the veteran first baseman this offseason.

Players who receive a qualifying offer -- a one-year deal worth the mean salary of MLB’s 125 highest-paid players -- will have until Nov. 17 to decide whether to accept or decline.

If Belt accepts, he’d be locked in for 2022, though the deal wouldn’t preclude both sides from potentially working out a longer-term arrangement. If Belt declines the qualifying offer, he’d remain a free agent, with the Giants receiving a compensation pick after Competitive Balance Round B of the 2022 MLB Draft if he signs elsewhere.

Conversely, the Giants would lose their second-highest Draft pick, plus $500,000 in international signing pool space, if they ink a free agent who rejected a qualifying offer from another team this year. They would not lose anything by re-signing Belt, however, which could boost their chances of a reunion.

Last year, the Giants extended a one-year, $18.9 million qualifying offer to right-hander Kevin Gausman, who accepted the deal and responded with his first career All-Star campaign in 2021. Since he previously received a qualifying offer, Gausman was ineligible to receive one again this year. Kris Bryant, a midseason acquisition, also couldn't be tagged with a qualifying offer.

In 2019, the Giants tendered qualifying offers to left-handers Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith, who turned down the proposals before signing multi-year deals with the D-backs and Braves, respectively. With their two compensation picks, the Giants selected left-hander Nick Swiney and shortstop Jimmy Glowenke in the 2020 MLB Draft.

President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has made it clear that retaining Belt will be a priority for the Giants, who have watched the 33-year-old veteran develop into one of the top hitters in baseball over the past two seasons. Belt was limited to 97 games due to injury this past season, but he was an offensive force when healthy, slugging a career-high 29 home runs and posting a .975 OPS while hitting in the heart of the Giants’ order.

Belt’s season came to a premature end when he sustained a left thumb fracture heading into the final week of the regular season, and the Giants felt his absence in the playoffs, when their offense went cold in their National League Division Series loss to the Dodgers.

The Giants have a few internal options who could help cover first base if Belt were to decline the QO and depart via free agency, including Darin Ruf, LaMonte Wade Jr. and Wilmer Flores, but they deeply value Belt's selective approach at the plate and his Gold Glove-caliber defense, so there seems to be mutual interest in a reunion.

Now that Buster Posey has retired, Belt is one of two remaining players from San Francisco’s championship core, along with shortstop Brandon Crawford, who signed a two-year, $32 million extension in August. The Giants appreciate continuity, so they’re likely to try to work out a similar deal with Belt, who has been with the organization since being selected in the fifth round of the 2009 MLB Draft out of the University of Texas.

"He's happy here," Zaidi said of Belt last month. "I think he feels really appreciated, and we appreciate him. He's been one of the best hitters in baseball over the last couple of years. He's a big part of this team, and we'll certainly hope that those are productive dialogues."

Two of the Giants’ other free agents -- starters and -- did not receive qualifying offers.

DeSclafani, 31, signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Giants last offseason and went on to enjoy a career season in San Francisco, recording a 3.17 ERA over 31 starts. Wood, 30, recorded a 3.83 ERA over 26 starts after inking a one-year, $3 million deal laden with performance incentives in January.

The Giants are expected to have interest in re-signing Gausman, DeSclafani and Wood this offseason, especially since their starting rotation is essentially a blank slate behind rising star Logan Webb.