Faced with the possibility of Carlos Rodón accepting a long-term contract elsewhere, it appears the Giants are taking a “strength in numbers” approach to filling the void in their starting rotation.
On Tuesday, they reportedly agreed to terms with right-hander Ross Stripling, bringing their number of capable starters to seven, after adding lefty Sean Manaea on an identical deal Sunday night. The deal, which was first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan and hasn’t yet been announced by the club, will reportedly pay Stripling $25 million over two years and includes an opt-out after the first year.
Stripling, 33, went 10-4 with a 3.01 ERA for the Blue Jays in 134⅓ innings last season. He gives the Giants flexibility, in that he can both start and pitch out of relief. Of his 32 appearances, 24 were in the starting rotation, and eight were out of the bullpen.
Stripling also fits the Giants’ profile in that he walks very few batters: his career 5.7% walk percentage is well below the MLB average (8.4%), and his career-best 3.7% rate last season ranked in the top 2% of the league. While 2022 was a career year — he set personal bests in run prevention (3.01 ERA), home run prevention (7.7% HR/FB) and overall value (3.1 fWAR) — he also posted ERAs below 4.00 in his first four big-league seasons with the Dodgers from 2016-19.
The Giants now have seven pitchers under contract with the ability to start games — Logan Webb, Alex Cobb, Alex Wood, Anthony DeSclafani, Manaea, Stripling and Jakob Junis (who is expected to be used in relief) — plus whatever contributions they receive from top prospect Kyle Harrison, Sean Hjelle and the two young arms recently added to the 40-man roster, Tristan Beck and Keaton Winn.
While it doesn’t pack the one-two punch the Giants have had the past two seasons, pairing Webb with Kevin Gausman in 2021 and Rodón in 2022, it is a deep and formidable group — and built with less risk, in the way Farhan Zaidi prefers, without handing out a long-term, high-dollar contract to one pitcher. Its highest-paid members (Wood, Manaea, Stripling) will each make $12.5 million, and its total cost (including projected arbitration figures for Webb and Junis) comes to about $67 million.
Rodón is said to be seeking a seven-year deal with an average annual value of $30 million and has reportedly drawn interest from the Yankees, Mets, Rangers and Cardinals. A reunion in San Francisco is looking increasingly unlikely without the Giants shipping out a starter in a trade, which isn’t out of the realm of possibility given the below-market salaries many are making.