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Giants Still Interested In Blake Snell

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The Giants made another major addition yesterday with the signing of Matt Chapman, and might not yet be done with their March shopping.  Both Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle and Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area report that Blake Snell remains a target for the club, as the Giants continue to have a pressing need in the rotation.

Chapman’s deal contains two opt-out clauses, but in its full form is a three-year, $54MM guarantee.  That puts San Francisco’s payroll at just over $183MM (as per RosterResource’s projections) and, more importantly, its luxury tax figure at roughly $230.5MM — only slightly below the $237MM Competitive Balance Tax threshold.  Even if Snell were to also accept a shorter-term contract laden with opt-outs, his salary would obviously send the Giants sailing over that first tax tier and closer to the secondary tier of $257MM.

The Giants haven’t exceeded the CBT line since 2017, yet given the team’s high-profile bids for star free agents (i.e. Carlos Correa, Aaron Judge, Shohei Ohtani, Yoshinobu Yamamoto) in recent years, the tax threshold is hardly viewed as a barrier to spending.  If Snell and his representatives at the Boras Corporation are open to a shorter-term deal deal akin to Chapman’s, the idea that San Francisco could sign both players for perhaps something close to the total number projected for just one of the duo at the start of the offseason would count as a valuable bargain, and seemingly well worth what might be a temporary tax hit.  Michael Conforto’s contract is off the books after next season, Chapman could opt out, and Snell could opt out as well in this scenario.

Signing Snell would come at an additional cost to the Giants than just money, since both Snell and Chapman rejected qualifying offers.  Signing Chapman cost San Francisco its second-highest pick (the 51st overall selection) in the 2024 draft as well as $500K in international signing pool money, and signing Snell would cost the Giants another $500K from their pool, plus their third-highest pick in the upcoming draft.  While every draft pick is valued, giving up a second pick might again be seen as an acceptable loss for the Giants if it means landing Snell, either at a relative discount price or simply because the team is sorely in need of pitching help.

The rotation appeared to be a priority heading into the offseason, yet the Giants addressed the situation in a somewhat uncertain fashion by signing Jordan Hicks and acquiring Robbie Ray from the Mariners.  Hicks has worked primarily as a reliever over his Major League career, and Ray will be out until around midseason as he continues to recover from Tommy John surgery.  Since Alex Cobb will be sidelined until May at the earliest due to his own recovery from hip surgery, the Giants were seemingly prepared to roll with a rotation of ace Logan Webb, Hicks, and a group of rookies headlined by star prospect Kyle Harrison until Cobb and Ray were ready to return.

However, those plans took a hit with yesterday’s news that Tristan Beck will be undergoing surgery to correct an aneurysm in his upper right arm.  Keaton Winn looks to be on track for Opening Day after a bout of nerve-related elbow discomfort, but these injuries have only highlighted the unsteady nature of San Francisco’s pitching plans.  An argument can clearly be made that adding another starter would greatly help the situation, whether more of a stopgap veteran like Michael Lorenzen or Mike Clevinger, or a front-of-the-rotation type like Jordan Montgomery or Snell.

Even though Snell won his second career Cy Young Award in 2023, questions have persisted about Snell’s viability as a long-term investment.  He has averaged just over 124 innings per season during his eight years in the big leagues, and he has pitched into the eighth inning in only five of his 191 career starts.  Snell has also been prone to giving up a lot of hard contact at times, and his walk rates have been decidedly below average for his entire career.

This doesn’t seem to be the profile that would match Farhan Zaidi’s preferred model for pitching contracts, as the Giants president of baseball operations has long been hesitant about signing pitchers to particularly lengthy commitments.  A shorter-term deal with opt-outs might solve that issue, and Snell is reportedly open to considering such offers, though it remains to be seen if there might still be enough late interest for the left-hander to score a more lucrative deal.  The Yankees and Angels have been linked to Snell’s market, and other suitors could potentially emerge if another injury situation develops during Spring Training.



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