1:05 p.m.: The Giants announced the signing.
11:58 am: The Giants have agreed a two-year, $25 million deal with free agent Righty Ross Striplingreports ESPN’s Jeff Passan (Twitter link). Stripling, a Beverly Hills Sports Council client, may opt out of the contract after the 2023 season. It’s the exact same terms the Giants used to reel in the left-hander Sean Manaea earlier this week.
The deal includes a $5 million signing bonus, to be paid in equal $2.5 million installments — one in 2023 and one in 2024, according to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman (Twitter link). Stripling will also earn a salary of $7.5 million for the upcoming season before deciding whether to forego a salary of $12.5 million for the 2024 campaign.
Stripling, 33, is certainly a familiar face for Dodgers president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, whose time as general manager at the Dodgers overlapped with Stripling’s time in Los Angeles. Veteran righty has served as a swingman for much of his time in the majors, often serving as a sixth starter with the Dodgers or with the Blue Jays, who took him on at the 2020 close.
However, in the 2022 season, Stripling entered a full-time rotation role when the Jays lost the left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu until Tommy John’s operation. Stripling proved to be a lucky break, making 24 starts and posting a 2.92 ERA in 123 1/3 innings off rotation. That’s an average of just over five frames per launch, but Stripling’s results were nothing short of excellent.
In Stripling, the Giants will add a versatile arm that has found success in multiple roles. He won’t overwhelm many hitters with a fastball that averaged just 91.9 mph, but Stripling balances a below-average 20.7% strikeout rate with a solid 43.8% grounder rate and some of the best commands from the majors. His 3.7% walk rate last season was the third-lowest mark of any pitcher to pitch at least 100 innings in 2022, and his 11% swinging strike rate and 37.9% opponent pursuit rate at least suggest that even with some strike it is going up the pedestrian speed.
It’s worth noting that from 2020-2021, Stripling recorded an unsightly 5.14 ERA and 5.52 FIP in 150 2/3 innings between the Dodgers and Jays, thanks in no small part to a mammoth average of 2.2 homers per nine innings is. Outside of those two seasons, however, long ball has not been a prominent source of trouble for him, and he recorded a career-best homer of .8 per nine frames last season. Aside from that two-year rough patch, Stripling has maintained an ERA of under 4.00 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 as a complement to Ace Logan Webbleft handed Alex Wood and right handed Alex Cobb and Anthony DeSclafani. The Giants also enjoyed a nice rebound from Swingman Jacob Junes in 2022, giving them at least seven rotation options on the big league roster.
It’s fair to ask if the addition of Stripling formally removes the Giants from bidding on the free-agent ace Carlo Rodon, who is out of the second year of his contract at San Francisco and is reportedly targeting a contract for at least six to seven years this winter. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday that the Giants continued to pursue Rodon even after agreeing with Manaea, but Stripling continues to push the pitching team.
Regardless of whether Rodon stays in the cards, upcoming additions Manaea and Stripling position the Giants well in the event of injuries occurring elsewhere in the starting squad. That’s crucial for the Giants because, given the health record of several of their homegrown options, DeSclafani only pitched 19 innings in 2022 due to a tendon injury in his ankle that ultimately required surgery. Wood and Cobb put on a mostly full tally of starts last year, but Cobb only pitched 158 innings from 2019-21 and Wood only logged 48 1/3 innings from 2019-20 due to shoulder and neck problems. Even Webb, who ran a team-high 192 1/3 innings in 2022, missed a few weeks in 2021 with a shoulder strain.
After bringing Stripling on board, the Giants have a projected payroll of $157.6 million for the upcoming season and a luxury tax book just over $180 million, per roster resource. They’re still more than $40 million short of their franchise record of $200.5 million in opening-day payroll and more than $50 million short of the luxury tax limit of $233 million. That sort of payroll room sets the stage for another marquee expansion should the Giants find a deal to their liking. They’ve already added Manaea, Stripling, and Mitch Hanigerin addition to retention Joc Pederson on a qualifying bid, but the Giants have been linked with Rodon and are a prime contender for free-agent shortstop Carlo Correaso the stripling pact is certainly not her last move of the offseason.