Until the 2023 MLB season, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt's baseball paths were nearly identical.
Both were drafted by the Giants (Crawford in 2008, Belt in 2009), working their way through the system before making their MLB debuts with San Francisco in 2011. "The Brandons" went on to win two World Series titles together with the Giants but were broken up last offseason when Belt joined the Toronto Blue Jays on a one-year contract.
Now, with free agency looming and both in their mid-30s, Belt and Crawford recently shared their uncertainty about the future in separate interviews.
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"I wouldn’t be able to answer that right now," Crawford said of retirement before the Giants' 4-0 loss to the San Diego Padres at Petco Park on Sunday (h/t San Francisco Chronicle's John Shea).
Crawford was activated Friday from his third stint on the injured list this season and had a two-hit night against the Padres, followed by an 0-for-2 showing at the plate in Sunday's loss. The veteran shortstop's batting average has dipped to .198 in the final campaign of a two-year, $32 million contract he signed with the Giants before the 2022 season.
The 36-year-old already has said he wants to retire in a Giants uniform. But he still hasn't decided when that day will come -- a choice he ultimately will make with his family, he said Sunday. Crawford inked his current deal after a fruitful 2021 season, when San Francisco won a franchise-best 107 games with help from his career-high 24 homers.
The two seasons since haven't been as successful for Crawford.
San Francisco Giants
"Ideally, I would have played really well and been healthy all year,” Crawford said, via the Chronicle, “and it would be an easy decision to go one way or the other with.”
Similarly, Belt still has a decision to make, too.
“I think I might have a few more options next year, but I am getting on up there in age, so it might turn a lot of people off, but I’m still trying to figure out kind of what I want to do,” Belt said recently on the "Foul Territory" podcast. “I’m 35 this year. I got two boys that are getting older, and it’s getting tougher on all of us when I’m gone all the time.
"This something I've got to take into consideration and figure out whether I want to keep going or go home and be with my family."
Belt's final season in San Francisco ended with a knee injury, leaving uncertainty as to whether he would suit up for another campaign in 2023. He joined the Blue Jays on a $9.3 million deal and since has bounced back, slashing .252/.371/.473 with 16 home runs, 22 doubles and a team-leading .912 OPS since May 1.
Of the Giants dynasty that won three World Series titles from 2010-2014, Crawford is the lone player remaining in San Francisco who knows what it's like to hoist the Commissioner's Trophy. And from that final championship team in 2014, only three from the 25-man World Series roster remain on an MLB team: Crawford, Belt and Matt Duffy (with the Kansas City Royals).
For Giants fans, Crawford and Belt symbolize a joyous, winning era in San Francisco, even though they no longer play on the same team. But now there are new youngsters in the Giants organization who hope to start their own period of successful baseball in the Bay -- rookies like Patrick Bailey, Kyle Harrison and others who have come up through the team's farm system together.
And if Crawford and Belt call it a career ahead of what would be their 14th MLB seasons in 2024, who knows -- maybe Giants fans will get to see them in the Orange and Black one last time, together.