One week ago tonight, the 2022 World Series ended with an Astros victory in Game 6. Congrats again to Dusty Baker, Mauricio Dubon, Will Smith, and Pete Putlila. Since then, a bunch of stuff has happened. This next week, more stuff will happen. Let’s break it all down.
The Past Week
- Astros fire their GM six days after winning the World Series: I’ll start with the most recent development first. This is a bizarre turn of events, but in reading about it, I take it that Astros’ owner Jim Crane has never really liked GM James Click, whom he hired under duress in 2020 after firing long-time GM Jed Luhnow in the wake of the trash can scandal. Crane reluctantly offered Click a new one-year contract, which Click took as an insult after the team’s performance under his guidance. He rejected the offer, complained about it publicly at the GM Meetings–and Crane fired him. I’m glad we got Putila when he did because he might have been in line to get that job with the Astros, but now it’s too late.
- Giants give qualifying offers to Carlos Rodón and Joc Pederson: The QO to Rodón, who opted out of his contract right after the World Series ended, was absolutely expected, and Rodón will decline the QO (which is worth less than the player option he just declined). The QO to Pederson was a surprise to everyone. As I said in response to Greek Giant’s post from yesterday, the only thing I can make of this is that Farhan Zaidi really wants Joc back, knows that Joc doesn’t especially want to come back, so has pretty much made him an offer he can’t refuse. Well, I mean, he can refuse it, but he’s unlikely to get almost $20 mil annual value in a multi-year deal with another team. Many of us feel that this is an overpay for Joc, who’s basically a platoon DH, but a clue might come from this comment by Buster Olney yesterday.
Among the takeaways for some leaving the GM meetings: there is a big spike in the perceived value of left-handed hitters, with the impending restrictions against defensive shifts. For example: the Joc Pederson qualifying offer.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 11, 2022
If lefties are suddenly more valuable, well, Joc was one of the better lefty sluggers this past year. Olney’s comment also makes me wonder a bit more about the possible market for Brandon Belt, or even if there might be a trade partner for Tommy La Stella.
Here is the full list of players who got QOs. Most of them are the ones you’d expect, but QOs to Tyler Anderson, Nathan Eovaldi, and Chris Bassitt are a bit surprising, too. Players have ten days (so Nov. 20) to accept or decline the QO. Bassitt and Contreras have already declined theirs, which suggests they want to get moving on their free agency (see next item).
Complete Qualifying Offered List:
• Tyler Anderson
• Chris Bassitt
• Xander Bogaerts
• Willson Contreras
• Jacob DeGrom
• Nathan Eovaldi
• Aaron Judge
• Brandon Nimmo
• Joc Pederson
• Martín Perez
• Anthony Rizzo
• Carlos Rodón
• Dansby Swanson
• Trea Turner
— MLB Transaction Tracker (@MLBMovesTracker) November 11, 2022
- Free agency officially begins: The starter’s gun for free agency went off at 2 p.m. our time, and…not that much has happened yet. Clayton Kershaw signed back for another year with the Dodgers, but that’s so obvious that it barely counts as a “free agent signing.” The other biggest moves so far have also involved teams signing their own guys to new contracts (Edwin Diaz with the Mets, Robert Suarez with the Padres, Rafael Montero with the Astros). We may not see too many big deals until the Winter Meetings (Dec. 4-7 in San Diego). One thing to watch is how quickly the bigger names on the QO list (Judge, Turner, Rodón, etc.) decline their offers, as that may mean they’re hoping to sign somewhere sooner, rather than later. Oh, and speaking of free agents, I think we should all just accept that Rodón won’t be back. Even if Rodón himself were interested, Zaidi is just allergic to long-term deals for pitchers, and Rodón will certainly get offers of at least five years.
- Options are picked up and declined: Before free agency began, both players and teams had to decide about options they held for next year. We know about Rodón, but the other big decision for the Giants was Evan Longoria’s 2023 team option. As expected, the Giants declined it, and will pay him a $5 mil buyout. What was a bit of a surprise is that it sounds like Longoria and the Giants are parting ways. This Instagram post from yesterday sure sounds final.
Certainly feels like this is it for Evan Longoria and the Giants. He made a big impact on a bunch of the guys in SF’s clubhouse in his five years with the club. pic.twitter.com/65CV7IMbPE
— Danny Emerman (@DannyEmerman) November 11, 2022
This is a little surprising, given strong statements from both Zaidi and Longoria near the end of the regular season about their mutual desire to work something out for 2023. Zaidi was singing a bit of a different tune this week, though, highlighting the right-handed options that Giants already have in the fold for 3B–Wilmer Flores, J.D. Davis, David Villar, and Casey Schmitt in the wings in AAA. Honestly, although Longoria was a good Giant and had a fine year when he was on the field in 2022, this seems like the right decision to me.
Farhan Zaidi yesterday: “We've got David Villar who played really well for us down the stretch, J.D. Davis who did a really nice job for us, Casey Schmitt is one of our top prospects and he's got a chance to be an everyday third baseman." https://t.co/QlpbJSqgWW
— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) November 10, 2022
Beyond the Giants’ two options being declined, there was a lot of activity across MLB by which various players became free agents. The list is too long to provide it here, but it includes huge names like Justin Verlander and Jacob DeGrom, as well as long-timers like Justin Turner and Wil Myers having their team options declined.
Finally, the Giants quietly did a bunch of 40-man roster clean-up, activating players such as Anthony DeSclafani and others from the 60-day Injured List, and DFAing players from the roster. Farewell for now to Zack Littell, who cleared waivers and opted for free agency rather than an outright to AAA. The Giants also picked up a couple of guys from waiver wires because of course they did, but most notably, they added Isan Diaz to the 40-man roster. Diaz, a lefty-hitting middle infielder, was traded from the Marlins to the Giants in late April, and he hit 23 homers for the River Cats (in under 300 ABs) before being shut down with an injury in September. I assume the Giants added him now so as not to lose him in minor league free agency. Diaz’s addition may add further fuel to the speculation that Tommy La Stella will be DFA’d (or traded) sometime soon, and Jason Vosler shouldn’t feel too comfortable, either.
The MLB Transaction Tracker (@MLBMovesTracker) is a good Twitter account to follow if you want to keep up with all major and minor changes. (At least for as long as we still have Twitter, I guess.)
This Coming Week
In addition to “known unknowns,” such as (a) who might accept or decline their QO this week (b) free agent signings that might happen and (c) trades that might happen, there are two important dates coming up this week. First will be the deadline on Tuesday, November 15, for teams to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft. Since HaakAway has already declared the Hot Stove contest closed, I’ll reveal that I picked four to be protected: Reliever Nick Avila, starter Tristan Beck, shortstop Marco Luciano, and outfielder Luis Matos. Luciano is a no-brainer. Matos should be, but he had a disappointing 2022. I still think the Giants won’t risk losing him. Avila seems like a pretty good guess because he’s exactly the kind of player who gets picked in the R5 draft (reliever at AA level or beyond, high-octane stuff). I’m the least sure about Beck, who had a so-so year for Sacramento, but he seems similar to Sean Hjelle, whom the Giants did protect last year. We’ll know pretty soon.
The second important date is Thursday, November 17, when teams must either offer contracts to arbitration-eligible players or non-tender them. The Giants currently have 11 arbitration-eligible players now that Littell and Jharel Cotton have been disposed of, and it sounds like most or all of them will be tendered contracts or offers of arbitration. Zaidi specifically said at the GM Meetings that LaMonte Wade Jr. would be offered arbitration, so I quickly went in and edited my ballot before the window closed(!). I was not so lucky with Jarlin Garcia, whom I’d also left off my ballot.
I don’t necessarily think this is the week that the Giants will spend all the money and sign all the free agents. Maybe they will, but they certainly will have to protect some top prospects (or not) and tender arbitration to current players (or not). The former deadline will affect the future. The latter affects the present, at least for now. More importantly, this week will help determine if I win the MyHotStoveGuy™ contest this year, and that’s what I care about, of course. Lefty out.
Here’s something cheerful. He’s definitely going to be MyGuy™ next season! OK, now Lefty REALLY out!