When the Giants signed Kevin Gausman to a one-year contract at the Winter Meetings last year, one of the first things team officials had to do was confirm that Gausman was signed to start, not relieve. A year later, it's a much different situation.
Gausman accepted the qualifying offer on Wednesday and a day later, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said on MLB Network that he could see Gausman as his opening day starter next year and said the Giants were "thrilled to have him back in the organization."
"He did a terrific job for us and we think this is just the tip of the iceberg for him," Zaidi said on High Heat. "He's got a lot of pedigree, he was a top-five pick, he was a terrific college pitcher at LSU. He pitched for the Orioles in a tough ballpark early in his career and made some adjustments this year. It was a career season for him. Obviously a shortened season, but we think he has a chance to build on that and really be a front-of-the-rotation starter for us."
Zaidi confirmed that the Giants discussed a multi-year deal with Gausman, who did the same with other teams. "Ultimately he felt that this was best for him," Zaidi said.
Gausman is an easy pick right now to take the ball on opening day. He had a 3.62 ERA and struck out 79 batters in 59 2/3 innings. Fellow veteran Johnny Cueto had a rough year, finishing with a 5.40 ERA. It doesn't sound like the Giants plan to bring in anyone who would supplant Gausman as their ace at the start of the 2021 season.
"There are a lot of free agents out there," Zaidi said. "Having guys like Gausman and Cueto who we feel are just about as sure things as you can have in the rotation -- they're veteran guys, you know what you're going to get from them -- maybe we can roll the dice on somebody coming back from injury or somebody that we think can make a couple of adjustments and take the next step in their development. The back end of the rotation, filling it out, we may roll the dice and try to capture some upside in the trade or free agent market."