The San Francisco Giants have eight arbitration-eligible players heading into the offseason, a relatively modest number after having 13 such players a year ago.
And with the team balancing their attempt to replicate 2021’s success, and their desire to find ways to improve, it will be interesting to see what route they go in.
Here are the eight arbitration-eligible Giants, with their salary estimates courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors, a historically very accurate site with these things.
Right-handed pitcher John Brebbia — $1.0 million
Catcher Curt Casali — $2.0 million
Outfielder Alex Dickerson — $3.0 million
Left-handed pitcher Jarlin García — $1.8 million
Right-handed pitcher Dominic Leone — $1.5 million
Outfielder/first baseman Darin Ruf — $2.6 million
Outfielder Austin Slater — $2.0 million
Outfielder Mike Yastrzemski — $3.1 million
Of those eight options, two stand out as absolute don’t spend more than one blink’s worth of time thinking about it players. Ruf and Yastrzemski will have contracts tendered to them, and deservedly so. The former was one of the the team’s best hitters this season, and the latter, while having a down season with the bat, still put up 2+ fWAR for the third straight year.
Yaz and Ruf’s value far exceeds their arbitration figures, meaning that even on the off chance that the Giants didn’t want them around, it makes more sense to trade them than non-tender them.
Then things get a little more interesting. Slater is certainly worth the money, but on the heels of a down year, and with the team surely looking to upgrade right-handed outfield options, keeping a spot on the 40-man roster for him becomes a little trickier. Still, with Kris Bryant looking more likely to wear a jersey that isn’t orange and black next year (sorry, Orioles), and Heliot Ramos looking like he can’t be penciled in for the Opening Day roster, it’ll be hard for the Giants to let Slater walk.
Leone also seems safe. The Giants trusted him in more than a third of their games this year — and he rewarded them with a 1.51 ERA and 3.08 FIP. He’s too good to let go, and I suspect the Giants find García in that category as well, who appeared in even more games, though with slightly worse performance.
But the final three are hard to predict. What to make of Brebbia, who returned from Tommy John surgery and struggled his way to a 5.89 ERA and 4.59 FIP? I suspect the Giants still think highly of him — even with those rough numbers, he had a stellar 22 to 4 strikeout to walk ratio, and in his last two healthy seasons had a 3.09 FIP. That’s well worth the $1 million, but with plenty of intriguing names that might need to be protected in the Rule 5 Draft, is it worth a spot on the 40-man roster, especially when he might be available on a Minor League deal?
And then we arrive at Dickerson and Casali, two players who, if non-tendered, should be remembered as good Giants. After two brilliant years with the bat, Dickerson had a rough go of it in 2021, hitting below league average. He’s clearly behind Yastrzemski and LaMonte Wade Jr. on the left-handed outfielder depth chart, and quite possibly behind Steven Duggar as well. Unless the Giants think Dickerson’s tough year was injury-related and likely to be fixed, I’m guessing they’d rather spend a few more millions and add someone in free agency.
As for Casali, his future might depend on the team’s plans with Joey Bart. Bart will be 25 when Spring Training starts — the Giants need to ... uhh ... I want to avoid the crass expression here, but I’m struggling for a replacement sentence ... umm ... they need to ... fall asleep or get out of the bed? Take a shower or get out of the tub? Grab a snack or get out of the fridge?
If the Giants don’t think Bart should be Buster Posey’s backup next year (which likely means Bart will be traded), then Casali is as good as they could hope for the role. But if the Giants are ready to give Bart some run — or if they just want to maintain flexibility through the Rule 5 Draft and early parts of the offseason by addressing backup catcher last — then Casali being non-tendered is a pretty easy decision.
I’ll predict that Casali, Dickerson, and Brebbia get non-tendered, with Casali and Brebbia returning, the former on a Major League contract, and the latter on a Minor League one.
For what it’s worth, of last year’s 13 arbitration-eligible players, the Giants settled with seven (Dickerson, García, Ruf, Slater, Trevor Gott, Wandy Peralta, and Reyes Moronta), went to arbitration with one (Donovan Solano), and non-tendered five (Melvin Adon, Tyler Anderson, Rico Garcia, Daniel Robertson, and Chadwick Tromp). Seen through that lens, it would seem likely that the Giants would tender contracts to all their arbitration-eligible players, given their quality, but this is the downside of having a very good team: some good players gotta go.