The Giants agreed to a two-year, $25 million free agent deal Ross Striplingreports ESPN’s Jeff Passan (Twitter link). Beverly Hills Sports Council client Stripling will be able to withdraw from his contract after the 2023 season. It’s exactly the same set of terms the Giants used to stagger lefty Sean Manea earlier this week.
Stripling, 33, is certainly a familiar face for Farhan Zaidi, president of baseball operations for the Dodgers, whose stint as Dodgers general manager overlapped with Stripling’s in Los Angeles. The right-handed veteran served as a swingman for much of his time in the Majors, often running as a sixth starter with either the Dodgers or the Blue Jays, who acquired him on the 2020 trade deadline.
The 2022 season, however, saw Stripling enter a full-time rotation role as the Jays lost the lefty Hyun Jin Ryu to the intervention of Tommy John. Stripling proved to be a godsend, making 24 starts and pitching to a 2.92 ERA in 123 innings and 1/3 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 found success in multiple roles. He won’t outrun many hitters with a fastball that averages just 91.9 mph, but Stripling makes up for a below-average 20.7% strikeout rate with a solid 43.8% grounder rate and some of the best commands in the Majors. Last season’s 3.7% walk rate was the third-lowest by any pitcher to pitch at least 100 innings in 2022, and his 11% swing slugging rate and opponents’ chasing rate of 37 .9% suggest at least that there is a strikeout advantage even with pawn speed
It’s worth mentioning that from 2020-21, Stripling posted an unsavory 5.14 ERA and 5.52 FIP in 150 2/3 innings between the Dodgers and Jays, due in large part to a mammoth average of 2.2 homers per nine innings pitched. However, the long ball was not a major source of problems for him outside those two seasons, and he recorded a best-of-0.8 homer for nine frames last season. Aside from that tough two-year stretch, Stripling carries a sub-4.00 ERA in his five other MLB campaigns.
For the Giants, Stripling adds even more depth to an already strong group of potential starters. It joins the aforementioned Manaea as a complement to the ace Logan Webbleft Alex Wood and right-handed Alex Cob And Antonio DeSclafani. The Giants also enjoyed a nice swingman bounce Jacob Junis in 2022, giving them at least seven big league roster rotation options.
It’s fair to wonder whether the addition of Stripling more formally removes the Giants from the free-agent ace auction Charles Rodone, who sat out the second year of his San Francisco contract and has reportedly been looking for at least a six- or seven-year contract this winter. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday that the Giants remained in pursuit of Rodon even after agreeing to deals with Manaea, but Stripling has further crowded out the pitching staff.
Whether or not Rodon remains in the cards, the upcoming additions of Manaea and Stripling position the Giants well should injuries occur elsewhere on the starting staff. That’s critical for the Giants, given the health records of many of their infield options DeSclafani pitched just 19 innings in 2022 with an ankle tendon injury that ultimately required surgery. Wood and Cobb had mostly full starts last year, but Cobb pitched just 158 innings from 2019-21 and Wood logged just 48 1/3 innings from 2019-20 due to shoulder issues and around the neck. Even Webb, who worked 192 1/3 innings in 2022, missed a few weeks in 2021 with a shoulder strain.
And there’s more.