Blake Snell

Snell-to-Giants grades: How $62M free-agency move rated in MLB

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The reigning NL Cy Young winner finally has found a new home for the 2024 MLB season.

Blake Snell and the Giants agreed on a two-year, $62 million contract Monday night, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic. The addition gives San Francisco a much-needed arm as Farhan Zaidi and Co. dust off their hands after an eventful offseason, and Giants fans on social media couldn't contain their excitement just days before Opening Day.

Also quick to react were the experts, who didn't waste any time grading the move by the Giants. Here's a roundup of what MLB voices had to say about San Francisco's latest addition:


Grade: B+

"Blake Snell to the San Francisco Giants! This wouldn't have been a surprise back in November .. or December ... or January ... or, well, you get the idea. The only surprise here is the timing: March 18, just 10 days before the Giants open their season in San Diego against Snell's former team. Given where we are in spring training and the time necessary for Snell to ramp up and get ready for the season, he's unlikely to be pitch in that opening four-game series. (Maybe the next one -- when the Giants head up I-5 to play the Los Angeles Dodgers.)

"It's certainly not the deal Snell and agent Scott Boras envisioned in November, with Snell coming off his second Cy Young Award after a season in which he went 14-9 with a 2.25 ERA, including a 1.20 ERA over his final 23 starts. Among pitchers with at least 100 innings, only Spencer Strider and Tyler Glasnow had a higher strikeout rate than Snell's 31.5%. Batters hit just .181 against him.

"Compare Snell's deal to those other free-agent pitchers received coming off Cy Young or near-Cy Young seasons in recent years:

  • Justin Verlander (2022 Cy Young winner): 2 years, $86.6 million
  • Carlos Rodon (sixth in 2022 Cy Young voting): 6 years, $162 million
  • Max Scherzer (third in 2021 Cy Young voting): 3 years, $130 million
  • Robbie Ray (2021 Cy Young winner): 5 years, $115 million
  • Gerrit Cole (2019 Cy Young runner-up): 9 years, $324 million
  • Stephen Strasburg (fifth in 2019 Cy Young voting): 7 years, $245 million

"Heck, Aaron Nola, coming off a 4.46 ERA in 2023, re-signed with the Phillies in November on a seven-year, $172 million contract. Of course, some of those pitchers had a more consistent track record than Snell, who pitched 128 innings each in 2021 and 2022 with a 3.79 ERA. Snell has pitched more than 130 innings just twice in his career -- his two Cy Young seasons. Even in 2023, Snell walked 5.0 batters per nine innings -- the highest rate ever for a Cy Young winner and certainly a red flag for team evaluators.

"Still, Snell could have reasonably compared himself to Rodon, who hadn't been the most durable of pitchers when the New York Yankees gave him a big deal last offseason, or Ray, who was kind of a one-year fluke in his Cy Young season with the Toronto Blue Jays before the Seattle Mariners signed him.

"And maybe that money was there for Snell earlier in the offseason. There were reports the Yankees had offered him $150 million. This late in spring training, though, teams had drawn the line, even as injuries popped up to the likes of Cole, Kodai Senga and Lucas Giolito. The Yankees and Mets are already over the highest tax level, meaning Snell's salary would be taxed at a 110% rate.

"The Giants remained well under the first tax level and desperately needed another starter to go alongside Logan Webb. This is why Snell to San Francisco always made a lot of sense -- his new batterymate, Webb, by the way? He was second to Snell in the Cy Young voting. If rookie southpaw Kyle Harrison is ready -- there's no doubt about swing-and-miss stuff -- the Giants could suddenly have one of the top trios in the majors. Indeed, FanGraphs has added Snell to their roster projects and has the Giants with the sixth-best rotation in the majors. (To be fair, it comes with a lot of questions: not just Snell's durability but Jordan Hicks' viability of a starter and Alex Cobb's return to health, along with Ray being ready to return from Tommy John surgery in the second half).

"In the end, the Giants' patience paid off in free agency: First with Matt Chapman and Jorge Soler and now with Snell. Throw in their earlier deals for Jung Hoo Lee and Hicks and that's a heck of an offseason. (So much for the theory that players wouldn't sign with San Francisco.) Sure, Chapman and Snell can both opt out after 2024 -- but if they do, that means they had good seasons and provided excellent value on a one-year deal.

"I'm giving this a B+, only because of the risks with Snell, but I love this deal for the Giants and think there's a good chance it pushes them into the postseason -- and a playoff rotation with Webb and Snell could do some damage in October. -- David Schoenfield"

Bleacher Report

Grade: A

"We can talk all day about what Snell doesn't bring to the table, with the short version being that he's lacking in reliability.

"Because of time spent on the injured list in 2018, 2019, 2021 and 2022, he's made north of 30 starts in a season only twice in eight years. He's also notoriously not a control artist. He's averaged 4.1 walks per nine innings for his career and is coming off a 2023 season in which he led all pitchers with 99 free passes.

"When it comes down to it, though, the Giants have gotten one of the best pitchers in MLB on only the league's 98th-biggest active contract.

"It's a steal just to this extent, and it'll be that much more of a steal if Snell has more of what he had to offer in his two Cy Young-winning seasons. He was close to unhittable in both, finishing 2018 with a 1.89 ERA and last year with a 2.25 ERA next to 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings and a .579 OPS allowed.

"Meanwhile, the periphery costs of this deal for the Giants aren't even that bad.

"Having already surrendered a second-round pick in the 2024 draft via the Matt Chapman signing, they are only losing a third-round pick plus $500,000 from their international bonus pool with the Snell deal.

"Their luxury-tax payroll is projected at $256.5 million, or just shy of the $257 million secondary threshold for penalties."

CBS Sports

Grade: B

"The Giants as a team might have the widest error bars in the sport. There's a lot of uncertainty around what basically every notable addition of theirs will do in the upcoming year: how the late start to the spring will impact Blake Snell's readiness and effectiveness; how Jung Hoo Lee's offense will look like this season; if Matt Chapman can regain effectiveness against high fastballs; how Jorge Soler's power will be dented in a ballpark that's extremely unfriendly to right-handed slugging; and if Jordan Hicks can make a successful conversion to the rotation. That's without even considering if/ how Robbie Ray will return from Tommy John surgery. There's enough risk that we initially dropped their grade to a C, but the late signing of Snell helps quell some of those concerns. Should Farhan Zaidi and crew win on some of those bets, the Giants could make the playoffs. Otherwise, it might be someone else cleaning up the mess."


Grade: B

"MLB free agency didn't go according to plan for Blake Snell. Overall, it ended up being a pretty good offseason for the Giants, though.

"In the end, it could have been worse for Snell. At the very least, he will get $62 million if he completes his two years with the team while pitching in a huge ballpark for a ball club with potential. That's not a bad deal by any means.

"The possible opt-out after the first year is important. Snell can re-enter free agency next offseason if he wants to.

"So between the details of the deal and the addition of a star pitcher for the Giants, it's difficult to give this contract anything less than a B."


Grade: B

"For the Giants, this made too much sense to pass up. They're not investing any long-term risk into a pitcher with an inconsistent performance record. His Cy Young capabilities make the gamble on the 2024 season feel reasonable enough. There's risk here sure, but plenty of reward.

"They desperately needed help for their pitching staff this offseason and Snell is about as high-quality a signing as they could have made. Their rotation now includes the top two vote-getters for the 2023 Cy Young; Logan Webb finished just behind Snell. This offseason, they've also added Robbie Ray and Jordan Hicks, though they'll have to wait for Ray to return from injury.

"From Snell's perspective, he had to come down to $62 million after reportedly asking the Astros for $66 million. But he's getting a hefty $31 million per year with this deal. He was certainly looking for more, but if he has a strong 2024 campaign, he's set up to get it.

"Thus ends another Boras contract saga with a player essentially punting down the road after a drawn-out free agency process. We'll see how long until Jordan Montgomery resolves his free agency journey."

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