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Giants offseason FAQ: Who's in, out for 2020

@mi_guardado
October 3, 2019

A busy offseason is underway for president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, who will be tasked with overseeing a manager and general manager search, in addition to retooling the Giants’ roster ahead of the 2020 season. Here's a rundown of the most frequently asked questions, addressing key dates, deadlines and

A busy offseason is underway for president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, who will be tasked with overseeing a manager and general manager search, in addition to retooling the Giants’ roster ahead of the 2020 season.

Here's a rundown of the most frequently asked questions, addressing key dates, deadlines and decisions looming this winter.

Who are the Giants’ free agents?

Madison Bumgarner, Will Smith, Pablo Sandoval, Stephen Vogt and Fernando Abad.

Are any of them likely to receive qualifying offers, and what is the deadline for that?

Bumgarner and Smith are likely to receive a qualifying offer -- a one-year contract worth the mean salary of the league’s 125 highest-paid players. (Last year’s qualifying offer amounted to $17.9 million.) The Giants will have until five days after the World Series ends to extend such offers. Players who receive a qualifying offer will have 10 days to accept or reject the deal. If a player declines the qualifying offer and signs elsewhere, the Giants will receive Draft pick compensation.

Which players have options?

Left-hander Tony Watson has a $2.5 million player option for 2020. He will have until five days after the World Series ends to decide if he will accept the option or take a $500,000 buyout and test free agency.

Who might be a non-tender candidate, and when does the club have to make that decision?

Kevin Pillar is coming off a career offensive season, and he earned the 2019 Willie Mac Award as the Giants’ most inspirational player, but even he isn’t sure if he’ll be back patrolling center field next year.

“I’d like to think I’m back here, but until I get tendered a contract, my future’s kind of up in the air,” said Pillar, who led the Giants with 21 home runs and 87 RBIs this year.

Pillar is under team control for one more season, but he will be due a significant raise from his $5.8 million salary in 2019. The Giants will have to decide whether they are willing to commit $8 million to $10 million to a player who posted the lowest walk rate (2.8 percent) and fourth-lowest on-base percentage (.293) among qualified Major League hitters, though they could also attempt to negotiate a figure slightly below his projected arbitration salary.

With Steven Duggar rehabbing from a left shoulder injury, it would likely be prudent for the Giants to hold on to Pillar, who is also one of the few players who showed the ability to hit for power at Oracle Park this season. 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?

Franklin Labour, who is ranked the Giants’ No. 20 prospect by MLB Pipeline, is the club’s most notable prospect to be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter. The 21-year-old outfielder has not played above Class A ball, but he posted an .855 OPS with 15 home runs in 72 games between Salem-Keizer and Augusta this year. Ryan Howard, Caleb Baragar and Jalen Miller will also be left exposed to the Rule 5 Draft if they are not added to the Giants’ 40-man roster by Nov. 20.

What kind of help do the Giants need and will they be active in free agency? Who might they target?

Starting pitching will be a priority for the Giants, who will have to find a way to replace Bumgarner’s production if he departs via free agency this winter. Both sides will likely be amenable to an extension, but if a deal can’t be reached, the Giants could pivot to other free-agent starters such as Hyun-Jin Ryu, Gerrit Cole or Dallas Keuchel.

“Major League starting pitching is going to be a need for us this offseason,” Zaidi said Tuesday. “I wish that made us unique in baseball, but it doesn't. There's always plenty of demand for those guys that can provide you quality innings with a high level of confidence. I think that's something we're going to look at.”

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.