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Gausman accepts QO from Giants

@mi_guardado
November 11, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO -- Kevin Gausman, who emerged as the Giants’ most dominant starter this year, will be back to anchor the rotation in 2021. Gausman accepted the Giants’ one-year, $18.9 million qualifying offer, giving the club an electric arm to pair with Johnny Cueto atop their rotation next season. The

SAN FRANCISCO -- Kevin Gausman, who emerged as the Giants’ most dominant starter this year, will be back to anchor the rotation in 2021.

Gausman accepted the Giants’ one-year, $18.9 million qualifying offer, giving the club an electric arm to pair with Johnny Cueto atop their rotation next season. The MLBPA announced that Gausman was one of two players to accept a qualifying offer this year, with four declining.

The 29-year-old right-hander is only the 10th player to take a qualifying offer, which has been extended to 96 players since its arrival in 2012. Marcus Stroman also accepted a qualifying offer to return to the Mets this year.

Gausman’s decision to accept the qualifying offer doesn’t foreclose the possibility of a multiyear deal with the Giants, who reportedly have interest in keeping him around beyond the 2021 season. In '19, the White Sox took a similar course of action with José Abreu, who accepted a qualifying offer before signing a three-year contract extension.

Even with Gausman back in the fold, the Giants are likely to seek out more rotation depth this offseason, as Drew Smyly, Trevor Cahill and Jeff Samardzija are free agents. President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has expressed a desire to re-sign Smyly as well, though the Giants could also pursue other free agents like Trevor Bauer, who is the top starting pitcher available on the open market this winter.

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Bauer rejected a qualifying offer from the Reds last week, so the Giants would have to forfeit a 2021 Draft pick to sign the National League Cy Young Award winner.

Gausman, a former first-round Draft pick of the Orioles, joined the Giants on a one-year, $9 million contract last offseason and spoke glowingly of his experience in San Francisco, consistently praising the clubhouse culture and the organization’s adherence to health and safety protocols during the pandemic-shortened season. He was relieved when the Giants opted not to move him at the Trade Deadline and later cited the opportunity to work with catcher Buster Posey as a big reason why he was interested in returning.

Relying heavily on his mid-to-upper 90s fastball and his devastating splitter, Gausman logged a 3.62 ERA and a career-best 3.09 FIP over 59 2/3 innings this year. He averaged 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings, results that should make him a contender to start Opening Day in 2021.

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