5 Giants with uncertain futures in SF

October 5th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Maria Guardado's Giants Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

A big offseason looms for the Giants, who will have plenty of work to do as they attempt to rebound from a disappointing 2022 season and reassert themselves as contenders next year. One of their more difficult tasks will be figuring out which veterans to try to retain heading into 2023, especially given their stated goal of getting younger and more athletic this winter.

Here are five Giants with uncertain futures in San Francisco:

1. Brandon Belt
The longest-tenured Giant, Belt underwent season-ending surgery on his troublesome right knee in early September. His rehab seems to be going well so far, but there’s no guarantee he’ll be back for his 13th season with the club, as he’ll be eligible for free agency for the second straight winter.

The Giants extended Belt a one-year, $18.4 million qualifying offer after he crushed a career-high 29 home runs in 2021, but he couldn’t match that production this year. His balky knee limited him to 78 games and hampered him at the plate, where he recorded a .676 OPS with eight homers in 2022.

While the 34-year-old first baseman has expressed interest in staying with the Giants, he could find himself crowded out of an infield mix that already includes , , , and . Belt seems to be preparing for the possibility of a new chapter, as he gave a heartfelt “thank you” to Giants announcers Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow during a guest appearance on the NBC Sports Bay Area broadcast last month.

“There’s really nowhere else I want to play,” Belt said in the booth. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. All I know is I’m going to get as strong as I can and get ready to play baseball next year.”

2. Evan Longoria
Longoria landed on the injured list with a right thumb fracture on Monday, ending his season three days early. The injury might not necessarily mean the end of his career, though.

Longoria, who turns 37 on Friday, has considered retirement, though he said he intends to keep playing if the Giants exercise his $13 million club option for 2023, which includes a $5 million buyout. If San Francisco declines the option, Longoria said he’d be willing to renegotiate with the club or test free agency for the first time in his career.

“I’m committed to coming back here,” Longoria said Monday. “I’m a Giant until I’m not a Giant anymore. I don’t have any desire to go anywhere else. I’m very comfortable here.”

While he’s struggled with injuries over the last two seasons, Longoria has been productive when healthy, posting a .767 OPS with 14 home runs over 89 games this year. He also remains a strong defender at third base, which could boost his chances of sticking around in a part-time role next year.

3. Carlos Rodón
Rodón emerged as the Giants’ most dominant starter this season, earning his second consecutive All-Star nod after logging a 2.88 ERA over a career-high 178 innings. He entered Wednesday leading Major League starters with a 2.25 FIP and ranked third with 237 strikeouts, making him a strong candidate to draw National League Cy Young votes this year.

The Giants decided to shut down the 29-year-old ace due to workload concerns on Tuesday, so it’s possible he might have made his final start in the orange and black. Rodón is expected to opt out of the final year of his two-year, $44 million deal and re-enter free agency, where he is likely to land an even more lucrative contract this offseason.

The Giants would be hard-pressed to replace Rodón atop their rotation, but they’ve shown a reluctance to hand out long-term deals under president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi. They already let another All-Star starter, Kevin Gausman, depart via free agency last year, so it remains to be seen whether they’ll be willing to break precedent and make a serious bid at re-signing Rodón.

4. Joc Pederson 
Pederson proved to be another savvy free-agent signing for the Giants, as the 30-year-old slugger blasted a team-leading 23 home runs after signing a one-year, $6 million deal with his hometown team. Zaidi has already expressed interest in retaining Pederson, but the Giants might have to convince the Palo Alto, Calif., native that they’ll be in a better position to compete next year.

This season marked the first time in Pederson’s nine-year career that he didn’t reach the playoffs, an experience he bluntly described as “not fun.” Could that affect his desire to come back for a second season with the Giants?

“It’s a really cool organization,” Pederson said recently. “I’ve played for four really awesome organizations. I don’t know. I guess we’ll see what happens in the offseason.”

5. Tommy La Stella
La Stella is owed $11.5 million in 2023, the final season of his back-loaded contract, but it’s hard to see how he’ll fit into the Giants’ infield plans moving forward. The 33-year-old veteran landed on the IL with neck spasms on Sept. 12 and didn’t play for the remainder of the season, leaving him with a .632 OPS and two homers over 60 games this year.

The Giants recently revealed that La Stella underwent surgery on both Achilles tendons last offseason, which could explain his limited range and mobility on the field this year. With a ban on shifts expected to arrive in 2023, the Giants will have even less flexibility to carry a compromised defender on their roster, so it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if they decide to move on from La Stella at some point this offseason.