The Giants exceeded expectations for a variety of reasons, but Anthony DeSclafani’s year is perhaps the most emblematic of their success. Coming off an abysmal 2020, DeSclafani signed a one-year deal for just $6 million. He then went on to have an excellent campaign. He posted career-best marks in strikeout rate (22.5), ERA (3.17), FIP (3.62), and rWAR (4.1). In 28 out of his 31 starts, he allowed three or fewer runs. Suffice it to say, he proved he’s worth much more than one year, $6 million.
It was reasonable to expect an improvement from DeSclafani. 2020 was an aberration and he was moving from a bandbox to Oracle Park, where dingers go to die. However, Oracle has played much more neutral since the fences were brought in before the 2020 season. Baseball Reference’s one-year park factors actually had it slightly favoring hitters in 2021.
The Giants also have a robust analytics department and coaching staff, but DeSclafani isn’t a radically different pitcher from his days in Cincinnati. The biggest change is that DeSclafani’s slider became his primary pitch, and it doesn’t take a crack team of scientists working around the clock to suggest that a hurler should throw his best pitch more. The point is that Farhan’s Secret Stuff was just water and that the power was within DeSclafani all along. Maybe he’s not a true number two starter, but he’s not going to turn into a pumpkin if signs elsewhere.
Of course, the Giants would like to keep him around even though they didn’t extend him the qualifying offer. With Kevin Gausman and Alex Wood joining Disco in free agency, Logan Webb is looking around an empty clubhouse like it’s the series finale of a ‘90s sitcom. The Giants already met with DeSclafani’s agents at the GM meetings last week, and it sounds like it will require a multi-year deal to keep the righty in orange and black.
The starting pitching market is moving quickly, though. Eduardo Rodríguez signed a five-year deal with the Tigers. Noah Syndergaard signed a one-year deal with the Angels. Justin Verlander re-signed with the Astros. José Berríos even signed a seven-year extension. There’s going to be competition for DeSclafani especially since he won’t cost a draft pick to sign.
The Mets are in desperate need of starting pitching. Carlos Carrasco had his worst year as a big leaguer, and Taijuan Walker imploded after making the All-Star team. Billy Eppler’s biggest challenge with the Mets is proving he can build a competent rotation, and he never really came close to accomplishing that with the Angels.
The Cubs make sense as a landing spot as well. They’re not likely to shoot for the top arms on the market, but they could use more rotation depth. Kyle Hendricks had a career-worst year in 2021, and Alec Mills and Justin Steele don’t have quite the upside DeSclafani brings.
Of course, there isn’t a team in baseball that couldn’t use 150 solid innings from a middle rotation arm, so DeSclafani won’t have a shortage of suitors. Disco Tony does not need to advertise.
Kenny Kelly is the managing editor of Beyond the Box Score.