How Giants might handle big group of arb-eligible players


SAN FRANCISCO -- Aaron Judge, Trea Turner and others will soak up most of the headlines this offseason, but the Giants have a lot of work to do on other business before they can start scheduling fancy dinners with free agents. 

Nearly half of the roster that finished out a disappointing 2022 season is eligible for arbitration, including some big names like Logan Webb and Mike Yastrzemski. Bringing the whole group back would likely cost about $30 million, but the Giants wouldn't do that even if they liked all of these players. Part of the math this time of year is protecting 40-man roster spots, and the Giants will also need to soon add prospects to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. 

With that in mind, let's take a look at the Giants who are arbitration-eligible, and whether they'll be back, they'll be gone, or they'll be holding their breath until the Friday, Nov. 18 deadline to tender contracts to arb-eligible players. 

The salary projections come from MLB Trade Rumors, which does an outstanding job of compiling all of these lists and is generally extremely accurate on the contracts (if you have some free time, go look at some of the projections and try to figure out which potentially non-tendered players -- including a big-name Dodger -- could be Giants targets later this offseason).

Easy Calls

Logan Webb is arb-eligible for the first time and MLB Trade Rumors projects that he'll get $4.8 million, a reminder that the sport still has a system that's particularly unfair to young stars. 

The J.D. Davis trade was a heist, and at $3.8 million he would be a bargain as a utility piece. Davis should see time at both corner infield spots next season. 

Thairo Estrada ($2.4 million) might have been the team's most valuable position player and will either be starting at second base or playing everywhere in a Chris Taylor-type role. 

The 2020 Mike Yastrzemski likely will never return, but he just put up a fourth straight two-WAR season and provides elite defense in right and above-average defense in center. Even in a down year, Yastrzemski hit 17 homers. If the Giants acquire an upgrade in center field, a Yastrzemski-Austin Slater pairing could be pretty productive. Yastrzemski is projected to earn $5.7 million and Slater, who had a .824 OPS against lefties, is at $2.7 million. 

The Giants should be able to bring some of their most productive relievers back to join Camilo Doval and a bunch of newcomers. John Brebbia ($1.9 million) led the NL in appearances and had a 3.18 ERA while proving to be a strong choice as an "opener." Tyler Rogers ($1.8 million) had a rough first half but was outstanding in September. Scott Alexander ($1.1 million) became Gabe Kapler's go-to lefty pretty quickly and could open next season in a late-innings role. 

Interesting Calls

Given that he's projected to earn $3.3 million as a swingman, Jakob Junis really could have fit into any of these three categories. He had some really good moments as a fill-in for Anthony DeSclafani and posted a 3.65 FIP overall, and he came up repeatedly on Farhan Zaidi's end-of-season call with reporters. Granted, the context was Zaidi saying the Giants need to get one more starter so Junis isn't locked into their rotation, but he certainly seems to be thinking about Junis as a locked-in depth piece for 2023. 

In an ideal world, the Giants will sign one big-time starter this offseason and have Junis as the first line of defense until Kyle Harrison is ready. The only thing that would even give them pause is the fact that Junis can't be optioned to the minors next year, but having a true long reliever in the bullpen would be a nice change of pace.

The most fascinating case this offseason is LaMonte Wade Jr., who is projected to earn $1.4 million in his first year of arbitration. The breakout star of 2021, Wade had a .665 OPS and just eight homers this season. 

If Brandon Belt is gone, Wade could join Wilmer Flores, Davis and others in a first base platoon, but the Giants at some point will need to make a tough decision with one of their left-handed-hitting outfielders. This roster really doesn't work with Yastrzemski, Wade and Luis Gonzalez all on it.

Likely Non-Tendered 

The Giants had a disappointing bullpen and they're certainly not getting the whole gang back together. With Alexander's emergence and guys like Alex Young and Thomas Szapucki looking for opportunities, it's hard to see how they bring Jarlin Garcia ($2.4 million) back after an up-and-down year.

RELATED: Rogers' strong finish reasserts spot in Giants' late-inning plans

Jharel Cotton ($1.1 million) had some nice moments down the stretch but he's out of options, which won't work for anyone at the back end of the 2023 bullpen. Zack Littell ($900,000) will also be out of options and he never returned from Triple-A after his incident with Gabe Kapler, even when the Giants needed fresh arms for the final series.

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