Like a handful of the longest tenured Giants, Brandon Belt is having a career year.
Similar to Brandon Crawford and Buster Posey, the 33-year-old first baseman was supposed to be in a lame-duck season, his contract expiring this winter. That was before Belt put together a career season in 2021, launching 29 home runs with a .975 OPS. For those keeping track at home, that would be the fourth-highest OPS in MLB if Belt were to qualify.
The Giants responded to Crawford’s career year with a two-year extension. Rumors are, they are planning to do the same with Posey. So what about Belt, who is arguably playing better than both? It might not be that straightforward according to Giants beat writer Susan Slusser, who explained that the Giants could replace Belt’s production more easily than they could with the other two.
“I’m sure that they will talk about it,” Slusser said. “The one thing that I would say is the differenc is the Giants have two guys who can play there and did very well when Belt missed six weeks in LaMonte Wade and Darin Ruf. That platoon is about as good as it gets production wise in terms of basically coming up with similar numbers to a very strong first baseman, so that is also an option for them.”
That math checks out. Against left-handed pitching Ruf has posted a .999 OPS this season. Wade has a .893 OPS against righties. They’ve combined for 27 home runs from those respective sides of the plate. The two made less than $2 million combined this season, and are both under team control for a while.
“We talked so much coming into the season about how the Giants are going to have all this money coming off the books. They’ve got all these free agents, older veterans. Belt is the one where I’m thinking there’s some grey area there. That is not necessarily a slam dunk. I’m sure they’d love him to come back, but it’s going to have to be right, because they do have potentially another option with guys who are younger and combine to come up with production that’s not entirely dissimilar.”
Belt earned $21 million this season in the final year of a four-year deal.
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Listen to the full interview below.