Who to keep and who to cut: SF Giants have nine decisions to make this week

The San Francisco Giants must determine whether to tender contracts for the 2021 season to nearly one quarter of the players on their 40-man roster by Wednesday.
Nine players including key contributors such as Alex Dickerson and Donovan Solano are among the Giants who are arbitration-eligible this winter, giving many opportunities to increase their salaries from the previous season. Arbitration-eligible players have more than three years of major league service time, but fewer than six, which is the point players reach free agency.
As teams look for ways to cut payroll amid the coronavirus pandemic, there’s expected to be a larger number of arbitration-eligible players let go by clubs this winter. The Giants are among the teams who could wind up tendering most or all of their arbitration-eligible players, in part because none are expected to command big salaries next season.
With Wednesday’s deadline approaching, we examined each decision the Giants have to make this week with help from MLB Trade Rumors, which has created a historically accurate model of projecting player salaries.
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Tyler Anderson, LHP, (Projected salary between $2.4-4.3 million)
The Giants’ starting rotation was clearly one of the team’s biggest weaknesses during the 2020 season and finding upgrades for the group is the top priority for president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi.
Whether the Giants tender Anderson a contract or not will provide insight as to how they view the free agent market and whether they believe in Anderson’s ability to hold down a spot in the rotation for an entire season.
If Anderson is tendered a contract, the Giants would essentially be penciling him into a starting role because it’s unlikely they would be willing to pay upward of $2.4 million for a long relief type. If Anderson is non-tendered, it’s a sign the Giants believe he’s due to regress after posting a 4.37 ERA and a career-low 6.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
Given the dearth of starting pitching options at the highest levels of their farm system and the team’s desire to create depth in the rotation, it seems like tendering Anderson a contract would be a good idea. If the Giants pass on the chance, expect Zaidi to find a left-hander who misses more bats to take the roster spot formerly held by Anderson.
Alex Dickerson, OF, (Projected salary between $2-$3.3 million)
Tendering Dickerson a contract is a no-brainer for the Giants front office as the power-hitting outfielder has been one of the best pickups of Zaidi’s tenure with the organization.
Dickerson finished the 2020 season with a .947 OPS and has proved that when healthy, he’s capable of carrying an offense on his shoulders. If Dickerson, Mike Yastrzemski and Brandon Belt all perform close to the levels they did in 2020, the Giants should be tough on right-handed pitchers next season.
Jarlín García, LHP, (Projected salary between $900,000-$1.3 million)
When García entered to face the Rockies on September 22, the left-handed reliever still had a 0.00 ERA. Colorado tagged him for two hits and a run that day, but it was the only earned run García gave up this season.
The former Miami Marlins southpaw tested positive for COVID-19 and missed preparation time during the summer, but upon returning to the field, he was the most consistent reliever to don a Giants uniform this year. The Marlins did make the bizarre decision to designate García for assignment last offseason, so he’s been surprised to be let go before, but there’s no reason to believe the Giants would consider parting ways with him now.
Trevor Gott, RHP, (Projected salary between $700,000-$1 million)
Gott began the 2020 season with high expectations as manager Gabe Kapler thrust him into the closer role, but a brutal stretch of three consecutive blown saves in August coupled with right elbow inflammation that landed him on the injured list in September made this a year to forget for the veteran reliever.
The Giants could conceivably make the case that Gott would be a relatively cheap option in a high-leverage role next season, but he’s prone to giving up home runs and might be better off in a middle relief or “fireman” role.
It’s a toss-up as to whether the Giants tender Gott a contract, in part because there are expected to be so many relief pitchers expected to be available after the non-tender deadline.
Reyes Moronta, RHP, (Projected salary of $800,000)
Given the fact the Giants thought Moronta had the potential to eventually serve as the team’s closer, it seems unlikely they would non-tender the right-hander this winter.
Calling Moronta a “lock” for the 2021 Opening Day bullpen, however, feels like a stretch because he still hadn’t gained all of his fastball velocity back by the end of the 2020 season. After undergoing major shoulder surgery in September, 2019, Moronta was expected to be a candidate to return to the Giants’ bullpen during the final two weeks of the regular season.
The right-hander tried to earn his way back to the mound by training at the team’s alternate site, but the Giants decided to pass on the chance to reinstate him during a playoff race.
Wandy Peralta, LHP, (Projected salary between $1-1.2 million)
When Peralta is on, it’s hard to see how he ever gives up a run. When he’s off, he’s dealt with command problems that have led to home run troubles and inflated ERAs.
Since joining the Giants late in the 2019 season, Peralta has been a valuable addition to the bullpen as he’s demonstrated an ability to throw multiple innings at a time, get both right and left-handers out and pitch on back-to-back days.
The Giants probably overused Peralta last season, but the durable lefty still finished with a 3.29 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 27 1/3 innings. With veteran Tony Watson hitting free agency, Peralta could move into a role that features more high-leverage opportunities next season. At his projected salary, Peralta feels like a bargain.
Daniel Robertson, utility player, (Projected salary between $1.1-1.3 million)
Despite an ability to move all around the diamond on defense, Robertson appears to be the Giants’ most likely non-tender candidate.
It’s difficult to envision the Giants saving a 40-man roster spot for a player who doesn’t project as a starter and has a career .694 OPS, but it wouldn’t come as a surprise if the organization brought him back on a minor league deal and sent him to Triple-A Sacramento to open the 2021 season.
Robertson has plenty of value to an organization because of his defensive versatility and his ability to draw walks, but it doesn’t necessarily make sense to keep him on the roster this offseason.
Darin Ruf, 1B/LF, (Projected salary between $1.4-1.9 million)
Kapler and the Giants loved having Ruf on the roster this year because the veteran slugger embodied a team-first mentality and was one of the best examples of how preparation and process leads to positive results.
Ruf was never going to be an everyday player, but when an opponent brought a lefty on the mound in a critical situation, Ruf was almost always going to be the first player off the bench. He stayed ready in the dugout, was sharp even after several days of not appearing in a game and provided much-needed power in a platoon role.
Ruf is 34 so he’s in the latter part of his career, but bringing him back to pair up with Dickerson in left field feels like a fairly easy call. If the National League keeps the DH in 2021, the Giants will benefit from having Ruf around.
Austin Slater, OF, (Projected salary between $1.1-$1.7 million)
An elbow injury is the only thing that held Slater back from enjoying a true breakthrough season last year, but even in a smaller sample size, he still thrived.
With the speed to play at both corner outfield positions and an ability to draw walks and work long counts, Slater was already a valuable asset to the Giants before he successfully tweaked his swing to unlock more power. Now that he’s driving the ball in the air, Slater deserves more playing time and should find chances to prove he can hit against right-handers, too, if he stays healthy in 2021.
Donovan Solano, IF, (Projected salary between $2.2-3.8 million)
At the beginning of his major league career, Solano was an all glove, no bat type of infielder. During the 2020 season, he morphed into an all bat, no glove type of player whose best fit for the Giants was as a designated hitter.
It’s easy to see why the Giants would want Solano back, but without a DH role, he’ll need to make improvements with the glove to push Wilmer Flores for playing time at second base and to be a true depth option behind Brandon Crawford at shortstop.
If the DH is here to stay in the NL, the trio of Solano, Flores and Brandon Belt forms a really strong right side of the infield as Flores can play both first and second base.

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