As if they just took a big swig from a milk carton they thought was bought this week and not last, Giants fans will want to wash the taste from the 2020 season out of their mouths as quickly as possible.
Steps, but no playoffs from San Francisco. The final step taken by Los Angeles, the Dodgers beating the Rays, 4-2, in a World Series that ended Tuesday night.
And just like that, the offseason is here with the same hope that comes with every season ending: a new one is coming, this time with renewed Giants expectations.
As of 6 a.m. Wednesday, Kevin Gausman, Drew Smyly, Tony Watson and Trevor Cahill are no longer Giants. There is mutual interest between the Giants and Gausman and Smyly for reunions, although both elevated their values this season. Gausman, especially, may have pitched his way to a multiyear deal the Giants would be hesitant to match. Yet with a rotation that is returning just Johnny Cueto, Logan Webb and perhaps Tyler Anderson (who’s arbitration eligible), as well as possibly Tyler Beede, off Tommy John surgery, they will be in the market for rotation help.
They also will be seeking veteran relief options to fortify the bullpen, but Watson would be a surprise. The unit is already lefty-heavy, so an experienced righty or two will be the focus.
The first step for the Giants this offseason will be deciding upon a qualifying offer for Gausman. They can negotiate with him and his agent for five days, and if no deal is reached, the Giants can tag Gausman for $18.9 million, a decision that must be reached by 2 p.m. Sunday. The 29-year-old could return to San Francisco on that one-year pact or could try to test the market to see if he can get a longer-term deal (which, even in this strange market, should be within range). If Gausman is tagged, he would have 10 days to decide on accepting or rejecting the qualifying offer. If he rejects, he could sign with another team — though that team would lose a compensatory pick to the Giants.
There is a good chance the Giants don’t risk the price tag, though, especially amid a pandemic that has prompted the club to cut about 10 percent of staff. Few teams will want to give out that kind of money, even for one season, while also losing a draft pick.
The decisions will then come quickly, unbridled free agency beginning 2:01 p.m. Sunday. Rosters will have to be set by Nov. 20 before the Dec. 10 Rule 5 draft, as the Giants will have to protect prospects they don’t want swiped. They will have to decide upon arbitration for Anderson, Alex Dickerson, Jarlín García, Trevor Gott, Reyes Moronta, Wandy Peralta, Joey Rickard, Daniel Robertson, Darin Ruf, Austin Slater and Donovan Solano by Dec. 2. Last year the club did not go to arbitration with anyone, either agreeing upon lesser deals or nontendering the player.
What will the GM Meetings look like? And the Owners Meetings? Winter Meetings? Who knows, but most likely they will be held virtually.
The biggest question that will be answered by April is how the Giants’ payroll has been affected by the coronavirus. Farhan Zaidi recently said he doesn’t know what to expect without knowing whether fans can reenter Oracle Park next season. The Giants will want starting and relief help as well as a lefty infield bat and perhaps a veteran catcher.
The checklist can now be pinned to the fridge.