What a difference a year makes.
On Oct. 2, 2021, Gabe Kapler and the Giants were preparing for the National League playoffs. On Sunday, they played their final home game of the 2022 MLB season, beating the Arizona Diamondbacks on David Villar's thrilling two-run walk-off single in a game that had no bearing whatsoever on the standings except pride.
There will be no playoffs for Kapler and Co. this year after a major regression. Following a franchise-record 107 wins last year, the Giants enter their final series of the season against the San Diego Padres with an 80-79 record, good enough for a third-place finish in the NL West.
This hasn't been the season anyone associated with the Giants expected, and it likely will lead to notable roster changes in the offseason.
As the celebration following Villar's walk-off hit was winding down, Kapler took the microphone to talk to Giants fans at Oracle Park.
"On behalf of all of our players, all of our staff, we genuinely, from the bottom of our hearts, appreciate all the support this season," Kapler said to the fans. "I know it wasn't that easy and we had a lot of challenges. We vow to come back stronger than ever next year and make you proud. Thank you for being here for us."
A short time later, Giants president and CEO Larry Baer sent a letter to Giants fans, echoing Kapler's sentiments in the opening paragraph.
"This was not the season any of us expected after last year’s franchise-record 107 wins," Baer wrote. "We have one dominant goal every year, which is to compete for a championship. We didn’t do that this year and are committed to getting there next year."
The Giants could look a lot different next season, depending on what Farhan Zaidi, president of baseball operations, can do. Carlos Rodón has a player option that most observers expect him to decline to become a free agent.
Brandon Belt is a free agent and there's uncertainty surrounding his health following knee surgery. The Giants hold a $13 million option on Evan Longoria and also hold a $5 million buyout. Joc Pederson is a free agent as well.
There are big fish on the free-agent market, with New York Yankees superstar Aaron Judge being the most appetizing to Giants fans. But is Zaidi willing to back up the Brinks truck for the AL MVP frontrunner? Would the Giants pursue Carlos Correa knowing that incumbent shortstop Brandon Crawford is signed for the 2023 season at $16 million?
The Giants have a lot of work to do this offseason. If they can make sizable tweaks to the roster, Kapler and Baer's words will be prophetic.