Following an unusual baseball season will be an unusual offseason, which will extend to the arbitration decisions each club makes.
There will be a long list of nontendered players as clubs try to save money anywhere after a season that didn’t have customers in seats. Many players will meet the same fate as last year’s Kevin Pillar, who likely was expecting a nice payday with the Giants only to hit the open market and not able to command as much.
For the Giants, expect plenty of cases like Tyler Anderson and Joey Rickard from last year, in which the pitcher and outfielder were nontendered but brought back on lesser deals. In terms of actual monetary expectation, what to expect is more cloudy because of the unknown impact the pandemic will have on 2021 payrolls. The Giants are better positioned than most, but the fact they are laying off about 10 percent of their employees underscores how serious the fiscal situation is.
One more thing to expect: few arbitration hearings. While all the following players are eligible, so were plenty of Giants last year, and a player and the team did not make it into the hearing room once. Players were either nontendered or agreed to lesser deals before an independent party was called upon.
The leading online guide to arbitration estimates is put together by MLB Trade Rumors, which this year includes three different arbitration estimates — if the numbers from the 60-game season are taken without extrapolations; with extrapolations; and that number plus 37 percent for non-first-time arbitration goers.
If it sounds confusing and like the teams and agents will have a lot of negotiating to do, there’s a pretty good reason for that. Here are the 11 Giants who are eligible for arbitration, as the decisions need to be made by Dec. 2.
Tyler Anderson: Last year the Giants claimed him from the Rockies, nontendered him then signed him quickly, negotiating their way out of arbitration. He could command in the $4 million neighborhood this year as an up-and-down season that ended with a 4.37 ERA in 59 2/3 innings. The Giants will need rotation help and should like him back, and the two sides likely will work their way to a number a bit below the arbitration figure again.
Alex Dickerson: It was mildly surprising last season that Dickerson and his agent did not try to get an arbitration raise, instead agreeing with the club on $925,000 for a year in which he often carried the team. Despite entering as a platoon player, he played in 52 of 60 games and slashed .298/.371/.576, he and Brandon Belt nearly willing the Giants to the postseason. After that season, the 30-year-old, who can’t be a free agent until 2023, should be in line for a few million, with or without arbitration.
Jarlin Garcia: Garcia earned a raise in nearly throwing a scoreless season. The lefty, who was a surprise DFA from the Marlins, did not give up an earned run until Sept. 22 — and that was his only one, finishing with a 0.49 ERA in 18 1/3 innings. He should have made himself a seven-figure deal.
Trevor Gott: The Giants like the stuff, even if the results too often did not follow. Gott’s three ninth-inning blowups from Aug. 14-17 were costly, but he allowed just two earned runs otherwise. He finished the season nicely (4 1/3 innings, one run, four strikeouts), and it would be surprising if he didn’t return. This is his first year of being arbitration-eligible and should push his way toward $1 million.
Reyes Moronta: Moronta got close but could not complete his comeback from shoulder surgery, which should come next season, in which he should be in the mix for the closer spot (if it exists). He’s in line for about $800,000 in arbitration, and he and the Giants should agree on a deal.
Wandy Peralta: This will be Peralta’s second season of arbitration, in which he should command about $1 million. He was one of Gabe Kapler’s trusted lefty arms throughout, a fifth- or sixth-inning guy who struck out 25 in 27 1/3 innings with a 3.29 ERA.
Joey Rickard: Rickard was nontendered last year and later brought back, a fate that could happen again after he was lost for the season with left elbow inflammation shortly upon being called up.
Daniel Robertson: The Giants liked what they saw from the midseason pickup from Tampa, and as a righty who could handle shortstop — as well as move around the infield and some corner outfield — he filled a need and slashed .333/.417/.333 in 13 games. But without an expanded, 28-man roster and with a 40-man roster crunch coming, the Robertson decision will be difficult. He would be in line for a bit over $1 million in arbitration.
Darin Ruf: Speaking of roster decisions, Ruf’s will be a curious one. He was a legitimate find, a righty hitter with tremendous power who posted an .887 OPS in 100 plate appearances, settling into a platoon in left while DH’ing and with the ability to play first. He was a great bat to have off the bench, too, but that could be a luxury the Giants cannot enjoy without expanded rosters.
Austin Slater: Mike Yastrzemski did it for longer and thus got more attention, but Slater looked like a star before hurting his elbow, which did not allow him to play the field at the end of the season. While his numbers cooled off, he still finished with a .914 OPS in 31 games and could be in line for about $1.5 million or so in arbitration, if he and the team don’t settle sooner.
Donovan Solano: Speaking of stars, Solano became one at 32. He finished with a .326 batting average, and only because he slumped in late September; for most of the year, he was in the batting-title conversation. He entered as a platoon option at second and became an everyday player whom the Giants will want back, earning a deal that should pay him around $2 or $3 million.