Following a disappointing 2020 season, Anthony DeSclafani decided to bet on himself and signed a one-year deal with the Giants believing that he would have a good year and reap the rewards.
It turned out to be a great decision.
Pitching on a one-year, $6 million contract in 2021, DeSclafani had the best season of his career, setting career bests in wins (13), ERA (3.17), FIP (3.62) and WHIP (1.09). The right-hander also tied for the Major League lead with two shutouts for a San Francisco club that won a franchise-record 107 games and the National League West title.
The Giants rewarded the free agent for his efforts Monday when they signed him to a three-year, $36 million contract. DeSclafani will be paid $12 million in each of the next three seasons.
In 2020, while pitching for the Reds, DeSclafani had a 7.22 ERA in nine games (seven starts) during a pandemic-shortened season.
It was not the ideal year to have right before entering the free-agent market for the first time in his career, so DeSclafani elected to take the Giants' one-year offer.
DeSclafani cut down the walks from that rough year, returning his strikeout and walk rates to nearly identical levels as his career averages. One of his biggest strengths was limiting the long ball, as he allowed one home run per nine innings -- his lowest rate since 2015.
"I took the one year to bet on myself and ended up putting up good numbers and was looking forward to this free agency and trying to lock in something in long term," DeSclafani said.
The Giants had some discussions during the season with DeSclafani about a multiyear extension, but they were unable to come to an agreement. The team then decided against giving him a qualifying offer, preferring instead to try and work out a multiyear deal.
In announcing the signing Monday, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said that the organization felt there was even more room for growth and improvement with DeSclafani.
That dovetailed nicely with how DeSclafani sees things, and after working with the Giants' coaching staff for one season, the 31-year-old trusts them to be able to help him accomplish that.
How much did that factor into his decision to return to San Francisco despite having received interest from other teams during his few weeks as a free agent?
"A lot," DeSclafani said. "I jelled really well with them. You know, they're top notch from [J.P. Martinez], [Andrew Bailey] to [Brian Bannister]. They just worked so well together and are really good at relaying information. I think they're right. I still think I have another notch in my game and I'm always striving to get better every year. You know, you learn little things every year that you can build off of. I think I set a good foundation last year and I think there's still some things that I can do better in my game, and that's a group that can for sure unlock it."