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10 free agent starting pitchers who could make sense for Giants



© Bill Streicher | 2022 Nov 3

The Giants’ starters were not the reason the club finished 81-81. They were why San Francisco didn’t finish 15 games below .500. 

No rotation in 2022 posted a better Fielding Independent Pitching than San Francisco’s. The top three — Carlos Rodón, Logan Webb and Alex Cobb — each ranked in the top 20 in FIP and posted a combined 12.8 bWAR. 

Even though it was a position of strength last year, the rotation will still need to be addressed this winter. 

Carlos Rodón is expected to decline his $22.5 million player option, and re-signing him would break the current front office’s precedent of avoiding long-term contracts with starters. 

“We fully anticipate Carlos to opt out and that will create an opening on our pitching staff,” president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said in his end-of-season press conference. 

That leaves Webb, Cobb, Alex Wood and Anthony DeSclafani as known quantities. 

DeSclafani, though, is coming off ankle surgery that sidelined him for almost all of 2022. San Francisco is optimistic that a full, healthy offseason will allow him to contribute as a bulk-innings quality starter like he was in 2021, but it could make sense to operate with him as a question mark. 

Zaidi has indicated the Giants view Jakob Junis more as a swingman than a traditional starter. Wood, also, has historically had trouble getting through an order more than twice. 

The Giants’ philosophy isn’t to build a five-man rotation, it’s to construct a pitching staff that can shoulder a 162-game season. DeSclafani, Wood and Junis will help with that. So will top prospect Kyle Harrison.

“We expect him to be in our rotation at some point next year,” Zaidi said. “It could even be relatively early in the season.”

Even so, Zaidi will need to add to the rotation. The Giants have plenty of money to spend. Some of it will end up in at least one starting pitcher’s pockets. 

Here are 10 starters the Giants could target once free agency opens five days after the World Series ends. 

Justin Verlander, RHP, 39 

2022 Stats: 1.75 ERA, 175 IP, 29 BB, 185 K, 12 HR

One of the greatest pitchers of the era put together arguably his best season, at age 39, after Tommy John surgery. The Cy Young righty will spend the 2023 season in his 40s, so likely won’t fetch more than a two or three-year contract despite his miraculous season. 

If the Giants want to play “Rent-An-Ace” every year, like they did with Rodón, Verlander could be a comparable match. It would take a fortune on an average annual value basis, but the Giants have the capital to outbid competitors and sign a true household name. Plus, new general manager Pete Putila is familiar with Verlander from his time in Houston. 

Jacob deGrom, RHP, 34 

3.08 ERA, 64.1 IP, 8 BB, 102 K, 9 HR

He comes with arguably even more durability concerns than Verlander, having not exceeded 100 innings since 2019. deGrom missed the last three months of 2021 with an elbow injury and most of 2022 with a shoulder blade injury. 

But in his 11 starts, deGrom struck out 14.3 batters per nine innings. His stuff is still elite, with a 100-mph fastball and 90-plus slider. 

When deGrom is healthy, there might not be a more dominant pitcher. He’s generational in every sense. He could command $40 million, but his medicals may prevent him from signing for longer than three years. There would be sticker shock, but that’s still hypothetically in SF’s wheelhouse. 

Nathan Eovaldi, RHP, 33 

3.87 ERA, 109.1 IP, 20 BB, 103 K, 21 HR

Much of the attention will likely go to other names, but Eovaldi might be the perfect bounceback, top-of-the-rotation candidate to pair with Logan Webb. He’s among the best starters at limiting walks and home runs.

A top-five Cy Young finisher in 2021, Eovaldi revived his career in Boston. His 2018 postseason run — 1.61 ERA in 22.1 innings — gives him an edge over more unproven October performers. 

Since he’s coming off a year interrupted by back and shoulder injuries, Eovaldi is likely in the market for a contract structured similarly to the 1-plus-1 deal San Francisco gave Rodón. 

Carlos Rodón, LHP, 30 

2.88 ERA, 178 IP, 52 BB, 237 K, 12 HR

Rodón had the most dominant season any Giant has put together since Tim Lincecum. No starter had a lower FIP (2.25) or a higher strikeout rate (12 K/9). He and the Giants know exactly what to expect from one another. 

The only question is the price tag, and whether Zaidi will buck his trend by shelling out big money over five or more years. He didn’t do it with Kevin Gausman. He didn’t do so with last year’s free agent class. Will the strategy shift with Rodón? 

Corey Kluber, RHP, 37

4.34 ERA, 164 IP, 21 BB, 139 K, 20 HR

A two-time Cy Young winner with Cleveland, Kluber’s prime is far behind him. But he put together his first fully healthy season since 2018 last year and has a 3.66 FIP over his past 244 innings. Last year, he led MLB in walks per nine innings, which surely caught the Giants’ eyes. 

Kluber would be more of a depth piece than anything. But if the Giants think they can hone something mechanically or tweak his pitch mix, there could be some upside. And if SF goes after multiple big-time position players, cheap rotation adds become more appealing.

Luis Severino, RHP, 28 

3.18 ERA, 102 IP, 30 BB, 112 K, 14 HR

If the Yankees don’t exercise their club option on Severino, he checks a lot of boxes. 

He’s now two seasons removed from Tommy John surgery, and although he hasn’t been durable thus far, pitchers usually round back into shape around that time frame. The two-time All-Star made 19 starts in 2022 and should still be in his prime. The medicals are a risk, but a three-year deal wouldn’t be crazy considering his age and upside. 

Tyler Anderson, LHP, 32 

2.57 ERA, 178.2 IP, 34 BB, 138 K, 14 HR

The former Giant found his best stuff with the Dodgers and is in line for a big pay day. It’s possible, likely even, that he won’t be able to replicate his 2022 All-Star performance away from the Dodgers ecosystem, but there’s still a lot to like.

Anderson ranked in the 98th percentile in hard hit rate and 91st in walk rate. Suppressing hard contact and throwing strikes are two qualities the Giants love. He doesn’t have the elite stuff of Rodón, but could still fit nicely in any rotation. Perhaps the Giants could overwhelm with AAV in a short term deal instead of locking him down for three or four years. 

Kodai Senga, RHP, 30

(Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, NPB): 1.89 ERA, 148 IP, 50 BB, 159 K, 7 HR

One of Japan’s premier pitchers, Senga filed for international free agency and is expected to come over to the states. The Athletic’s Keith Law projects a team will give him a four-year, $80 million deal. 

Senga boasts a 100-mph fastball and a splitter. Despite struggling with command at times, the ace has racked up a 2.59 ERA across 11 seasons in the Nippon Professional Baseball league. 

There’s inherent risk with committing to someone who has never faced MLB lineups, but there have been plenty of success stories (Shohei Ohtani, Hideo Nomo, Yu Darvish). The Giants were in on outfielder Seiya Suzuki last year, so their scouts are surely familiar with Senga and the NPB. 

Rich Hill, LHP, 42

4.27 ERA, 124.1 IP, 37 BB, 109 K, 15 HR

Hill has pitched for 11 different clubs in his 18-year career. He’s still a viable fifth starter, and he’ll be in line for another one-year deal in the low seven figures. If the Giants are set on adding two starters, one very well could be a Rich Hill type. 

It wouldn’t be the most inspired signing, but it’s not every day a team gets a chance to sign someone nicknamed Dick Mountain. 

José Quintana, LHP, 34 

2.93 ERA, 165.2 IP, 47 BB, 137 K, 8 HR

What Quintana did this year after looking completely cooked with the Giants when they took a flier on him toward the end of 2021 was remarkable. 

Quintana’s resurgence, first with the Pirates and then with St. Louis, puts him back on the market in a position of strength. He allowed 0.4 home runs per nine innings — a MLB-best mark. 

If the tweaks Quintana made in 2022 are sustainable, he could certainly help the Giants eat innings. Since he already spent some time in the organization, they may have a clearer idea of what Quintana could provide than other clubs. 

Honorable Mentions

Clayton Kershaw (would be funny), Martín Pérez (advanced numbers make his counting stats look flimsy), Kyle Gibson (too homer prone), Jameson Taillon (likely getting long-term deal), Noah Syndergaard (too risky for the investment)