The Giants have had some talks with ace right-hander Logan Webb about a long-term contract, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Neither Zaidi or Webb gave any specifics about the nature of the talks, or whether or not a deal could be anywhere close to completion.
Webb was arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason, and he and the Giants avoided a hearing by agreeing to a one-year, $4.6MM deal prior to the filing deadline. The righty has two more arb years remaining before he is scheduled to hit free agency following the 2025 season, and since Webb only turned 26 last November, he’ll still be in his prime when he reaches the open market.
The Giants’ willingness to sign long-term contracts has long been a topic of conversation during Zaidi’s tenure, as the club hasn’t officially gone beyond three guaranteed years to any player since Zaidi was hired following the 2018 season. Of course, that fact carries a significant asterisk, as the Giants thought they’d signed Carlos Correa to a 13-year, $350MM contract in December before concerns from Correa’s physical about the shortstop’s right leg and ankle prevented the deal from being finalized. San Francisco was also a prime bidder for both Aaron Judge this offseason and Bryce Harper in the 2018-19 offseason, indicating that Zaidi’s front office is willing to splurge for a premium talent.
After two excellent seasons in the Giants’ rotation, Webb certainly looks like a blue-chip talent in his own right. A fourth-round pick for the Giants in the 2014 draft, the native of Rocklin, California had a 5.36 ERA over 94 innings in 2019-20, though the FIP (4.15) and xFIP (4.25) metrics and a .340 BABIP indicated that Webb’s ERA was in part due to bad luck.
That fortune changed in 2021-22, when Webb had a 2.96 ERA, 58.4% grounder rate, 23.2% strikeout rate, and 6.1% walk rate over 340 2/3 innings. While Webb’s K% and whiff rate dipped below average in 2022, he made up for it with strong control and a strong ability to keep the ball on the ground. Among all qualified pitchers, only Houston’s Framber Valdez has had a better groundball rate than Webb over the last two seasons. Webb’s FIP and xFIP from 2021-2022 are pretty similar to his ERA (and his .299 BABIP is roughly average), though the argument can certainly be made that such a grounder-heavy pitcher could’ve been even more effective in front of a better defense than the Giants’ collection of subpar infield gloves.
Health-wise, Webb missed about six weeks with a shoulder strain in 2021, and a lower-back strain sent him to the IL right at the end of the 2022 campaign. Webb underwent a Tommy John surgery in 2016, and he also served an 80-game PED suspension in 2019 after testing positive for dehydrochlormethyltestosterone.
Any injury history comes under more of a microscope in the wake of the Correa situation, though on paper, it would seem like the Giants can be reasonably confident about Webb’s long-term health. While discussing an extension with a young star is due diligence for any team, the fact that the Giants have already had some level of negotiation with Webb’s representatives at the ACES agency is perhaps also a hint that the team is comfortable in making a long-term commitment.
Sandy Alcantara’s five-year, $56MM extension with the Marlins from November 2021 stands out as a logical comp for Webb’s camp, in no small part because it is currently the largest deal ever given to a pitcher with between three and four years of Major League service time. Alcantara signed that extension at age-26 (the same age as Webb now) and the two hurlers also share a similar profile as grounder-heavy pitchers.
There is a slight difference in that Alcantara was also in his first offseason of arbitration eligibility at the time of the extension, but hadn’t yet agreed to his salary for the next year. As such, his deal covered all three arb years, Alcantara’s first two free agent years, and possibly the 2027 season if Miami exercises a $21MM club option. Though a Webb extension could overwrite his 2023 salary, a new deal would theoretically begin with the 2024 season, meaning that the Giants would have to pay a larger price if wanted to cover another one of Webb’s free agent years.
In terms of long-term payroll, San Francisco has plenty of open space for the future, with such big salaries as Joc Pederson, Brandon Crawford, Alex Wood and (depending on player or club options) Michael Conforto, Ross Stripling, and Alex Cobb all potentially coming off the books next winter. It leaves the Giants with lots of flexibility in locking up Webb as a cornerstone piece of a rotation that is otherwise filled with veterans on shorter-term contracts, and the team still has plenty of space to pursue other high-priced free agent or trade targets next winter after missing out on Correa and Judge.