The Giants have agreed to a two-year, $25 million deal with the right-handed free agent Ross Striplinreports ESPN’s Jeff Passan (Twitter link). Stripling, a client of the Beverly Hills Sports Council, will be able to opt out of the contract after the 2023 season. It’s the exact same set of terms the Giants used to roll up the southpaw Sean Manee earlier this week.
The contract contains a signing bonus of $5 million which will be paid in equal installments of $2.5 million – one in 2023 and one in 2024, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link). Stripling will also earn a salary of $7.5 million this coming season before deciding whether or not to forfeit a salary of $12.5 million for the 2024 campaign.
Stripling, 33, is surely a familiar face to Dodgers president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, whose time as Dodgers general manager coincided with Stripling’s time in Los Angeles. The veteran right-hander served as a swingman for much of his time in the Majors, often operating as a sixth starter with the Dodgers or with the Blue Jays, who acquired him at the 2020 trade deadline.
The 2022 season, however, saw Stripling enter a full-time rotation role when the Jays lost the left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu at Tommy John surgery. Stripling proved to be a godsend, making 24 starts and pitching to a 2.92 ERA in 123 1/3 innings out of rotation. That’s an average of just over five frames per start, but Stripling’s results were nothing short of excellent.
In Stripling, the Giants will add a versatile arm who has had success in multiple roles. He won’t overpower many hitters with a fastball that only averaged 91.9 mph, but Stripling makes up for a below-average 20.7 percent strikeout rate with a solid 43.8 percent rush rate and one of the best commands of the Majors. Last season’s 3.7% walk rate was the third-lowest mark of any pitcher to pitch at least 100 innings in 2022, and his 11% swinging strike rate and opponents chase rate of 37.9% suggest at least there is a batting advantage even with pedestrian speed.
It’s worth mentioning that as of 2020-21, Stripling recorded an unsightly 5.14 ERA and 5.52 FIP in 150 2/3 innings between the Dodgers and Jays, largely due to a gigantic average of 2.2 home runs per nine innings pitched. However, the long ball hasn’t been a major source of trouble for him outside of those two seasons, and he recorded a career-best 0.8 homer per nine frames last season. That tough two-year stretch aside, Stripling carries a sub-4.00 ERA in his other five MLB campaigns.
For the Giants, Stripling adds even more depth to an already strong group of potential starters. He joins the aforementioned Manaea in addition to the ace Logan Webbleft-handed Alex Wood and right-handed Alex Cobb and Anthony DeSclafani. The Giants also enjoyed a nice swingman rebound Jacob Junis in 2022, giving them at least seven rotation options on the major league roster.
It’s fair to wonder if the addition of Stripling more formally removes the Giants from bidding on the free agent ace Carlos Rodon, who waived the second year of his contract in San Francisco and is reportedly looking for a contract of at least six to seven years this winter. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday that the Giants remained in pursuit of Rodon even after agreeing to terms with Manaea, but Stripling further encumbers the pitching staff.
Regardless of Rodon remaining in the cards, the upcoming additions of Manaea and Stripling position the Giants well in the event of injuries occurring elsewhere in the starting lineup. That’s critical for the Giants, given the health histories of many of their inside options. DeSclafani has only pitched 19 innings in 2022 due to a tendon injury in his ankle that ultimately required surgery. Wood and Cobb worked a nearly full slate of starts last year, but Cobb only pitched 158 innings from 2019-21 and Wood only recorded 48 1/3 innings from 2019-20 due to issues. shoulder and neck. Even Webb, who worked a team-record 192 1/3 innings in 2022, missed a few weeks in 2021 with a shoulder strain.
After bringing Stripling into the fold, the Giants have a projected payroll of $157.6 million for the upcoming season and a luxury tax ledger just north of $180 million, per Roster Resource. They are still more than $40 million south of their record opening day payroll of $200.5 million and more than $50 million from the $233 million luxury tax barrier. That kind of pay space sets the stage for another marquee addition, should the Giants find a deal they like. They have already added Manaea, Stripling and Mitch Hanigerin addition to retaining Joc Pederson on a qualifying offer, but the Giants have been linked to Rodon and are a top contender for the free agent shortstop Carlos Correaso the Stripling Pact surely isn’t their last move of the offseason.
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