The Giants were active at the non-tender deadline, doling out contracts to Mike Yastrzemski and Austin Slater while releasing three pitchers off the 40-man roster.
Both veteran outfielders were eligible for arbitration, and both will earn more than what they were projected to make. According to NBC Sports Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic, Yastrzemski’s deal is worth $7.9 million and Slater is set to make $4 million.
Slater, who debuted for the Giants in 2017, will likely be the team’s longest tenured player, as Brandon Crawford isn’t expected to return.
The Giants were likely to retain Yastrzemski and Slater, yet doing so brings them closer to the paradox of making rational decisions on perfectly valuable players versus running back a unit that performed poorly last year.
Michael Conforto opted into his deal and Mitch Haniger is under contract, meaning the Giants already have four veteran outfielders before making any moves in free agency. Yastrzemski and Slater could platoon at an outfield position, but SF will still likely aim to get playing time for Luis Matos, Tyler Fitzgerald, Wade Meckler, Heliot Ramos and Blake Sabol.
Acquiring a player like top free agent Cody Bellinger could limit opportunities for those prospects even more.
Conforto and Haniger — who together amassed 0.4 bWAR last year — can only improve. But the Giants outfield ranked 25th in Fangraphs WAR as a unit last year and 26th in DEF. Bringing the entire band back together, even considering positive regression, can’t be the best way to improve the roster.
The Giants will have chances to upgrade, and their actions before the non-tender deadline also indicated they intend to. Along with signing Slater and Yastrzemski to one-year deals, San Francisco non-tendered righty José Cruz, lefty Thomas Szapucki and righty Cole Waites.
All three relievers were pre-arbitration eligible.
Waites was the first prospect drafted by the Farhan Zaidi regime to debut. A second Tommy John surgery has likely knocked him out of commission for 2024, and will have him searching for a new home. Szapucki has also been injured, as he dealt with thoracic outlet syndrome in 2023. Cruz, meanwhile, struggled at Double-A after SF added him to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft.
With those three becoming free agents, the Giants’ 40-man roster stands at 33.