After falling just short of a playoff berth this year, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi and general manager Scott Harris will head into the offseason with heightened expectations for the 2021 season. With a stated goal of making the playoffs next year, San Francisco will be aiming to retool its roster this offseason to put the club on a viable path to contention in '21 and beyond.
Here's a rundown of the most frequently asked questions, addressing key dates, deadlines and decisions looming this winter.
Which players are free agents?
Kevin Gausman, Drew Smyly, Tony Watson and Trevor Cahill.
Did any of them receive qualifying offers?
The Giants extended Gausman a qualifying offer before the deadline. The righty will have 10 days to accept or reject the deal and if he declines and signs elsewhere, the Giants will receive Draft-pick compensation. In 2019, the Giants extended qualifying offers to left-handers Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith, both of whom turned them down to sign elsewhere. With their two compensation picks, San Francisco selected lefty Nick Swiney and shortstop Jimmy Glowenke in the '20 Draft.
Who might be a non-tender candidate, and when does the club have to make that decision?
Outfielder Joey Rickard was non-tendered last December before returning on a Minor League deal, and he seems headed for the same outcome this winter after suffering a season-ending left elbow injury in August.
Left-hander Tyler Anderson will be entering his third year of arbitration and will be due a raise from the $1.775 million he was slated to earn in 2020, though the Giants should be interested in keeping him around due to their lack of rotation depth. San Francisco non-tendered Anderson after claiming him off waivers from the Rockies last offseason and then re-signed him to a one-year deal worth less than his projected arbitration salary, so the club could attempt to take a similar route this year.
Utility man Daniel Robertson isn’t a guarantee to return, either, as he’ll be entering his second year of arbitration and will be in line for another bump in pay after receiving $1.025 million this year. With rosters set to revert to 26 spots in 2021, the Giants will have a harder time carrying Robertson on their bench, though he’s only 26 and offers the type of positional versatility that’s coveted by the front office.
The Giants will have until Dec. 2 to tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players.
Who needs to be added to the 40-man roster this winter to avoid the Rule 5 Draft?
Outfielder Alexander Canario (No. 7) and right-hander Camilo Doval (No. 25) are the most prominent Giants prospects who will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter. The pair seem likely to be added to the 40-man roster, as they were included in San Francisco’s player pool and drew praise for their work at the alternate training site this summer. Doval is closer to the Majors than Canario, as he was reportedly throwing 97 mph cutters in Sacramento and emerged as an intriguing relief option down the stretch. The 23-year-old could help bolster the Giants’ bullpen depth from the right side, which was a weak spot this year.
Canario, Doval and other eligible prospects will need to be added to the Giants’ 40-man roster by Nov. 20 to be shielded from the Rule 5 Draft.
Do they have a crunch for roster spots? If so, how might that be resolved?
The Giants will clear four spots on the 40-man roster once Gausman, Smyly, Watson and Cahill hit free agency, but they have four players on the 60-day injured list (Tyler Beede, Reyes Moronta, Aramis Garcia and Rickard) and two on the restricted list (Buster Posey and No. 26 prospect Jordan Humphreys) who will need to be added back on five days after the World Series ends, so there will need to be some trimming even before San Francisco adds prospects ahead of the Rule 5 Draft.
Along with Rickard, former first-round pick Chris Shaw’s 40-man spot appears tenuous after he didn’t receive a look in the Majors in 2020. The Giants probably won’t have room to carry five catchers, so Garcia, Tyler Heineman and Chadwick Tromp could find themselves on the bubble as well.
What kind of help do they need, and will they be active in free agency? Who might they target?
Pitching depth will be a priority for the Giants, who have already expressed interest in pursuing reunions with Gausman and Smyly. The veterans emerged as the club’s best starters after signing one-year deals last offseason, and they appeared to genuinely enjoy their time in San Francisco, making it likely that at least one returns in 2021.
The Giants would also like to add another left-handed bat, a veteran reliever and potentially another catcher to pair with Posey, which would enable top prospect Joey Bart to continue to develop in the Minors.