San Francisco Giants 2024 Season Preview

The San Francisco Giants had an extremely busy offseason. Let's see how their new-look team shapes up for the 2024 season.

Blake Snell (7) of the San Francisco Giants throws a bullpen session at Scottsdale Stadium.
SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA - MARCH 21: Blake Snell (7) of the San Francisco Giants throws a bullpen session at Scottsdale Stadium on March 21, 2024 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Andy Kuno/San Francisco Giants/Getty Images)

The greatest backup plan of all-time is Henry Louis Gehrig. The 21-year-old started for Yankees first baseman Wally Pipp on June 2, 1925 and didn’t take another day off until a decade after Pipp’s retirement. In the process, the Iron Horse aided his team to seven World Series and became the greatest ever at the position

The San Francisco Giants are currently in line for the second greatest backup plan after an offseason that went from decent to diabolical in the matter of weeks.

It began by coaxing manager Bob Melvin away from the San Diego Padres. The fan base desperately hoped this wouldn’t end up as the biggest acquisition of the winter.

Then came a record-signing for a player coming directly out of Korea. Jung-Hoo Lee, a dynamic outfielder with every tool except power, agreed to a contract of $113 million over six years. For two months, it would be their most notable player acquisition.

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Spring training kicked off in Scottsdale, Ariz. as scheduled on Feb. 15 with typical fanfare, but it wasn’t quite business as usual. A lot of talented free agents hadn’t found a home and the Giants had a clubhouse lacking everyday players.

Jorge Soler was the first domino to fall courtesy of a three-year, $42 million pact. Next was a three-year, $54 million deal with SoCal native Matt Chapman. Lastly, Blake Snell put pen to paper on a modest $62 million contract for two years, unless he opts out after one.

Just like that, the Giants agreed to the most significant financial commitment in franchise history entirely out of the blue. They had finally improved a roster that failed to produce a record above .500 in six of the last seven years. (Remember that improbable 107-win campaign in 2021?)

You can compare rosters as much as you want. San Francisco is still be outclassed by the Los Angeles Dodgers. But they can now hang amongst the other division rivals such as the Diamondbacks and Padres while aiming for one of three Wild Card spots.

Let’s not forget: That kind of rationale wasn’t a problem for the Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks last year on their way to the World Series.

San Francisco Giants Projected Lineups

1. Jung Hoo Lee – CF1. Jung Hoo Lee – CF
2. Matt Chapman – 3B2. Austin Slater – RF
3. LaMonte Wade Jr. – 1B3. Wilmer Flores – 1B
4. Jorge Soler – DH4. Jorge Soler – DH
5. Michael Conforto – LF5. Matt Chapman – 3B
6. Thairo Estrada – 2B6. Tom Murphy – C
7. Mike Yastrzemski – RF7. Michael Conforto – LF
8. Patrick Bailey – C8. Thairo Estrado – 2B
9. Nick Ahmed – SS9. Nick Ahmed – SS

San Francisco struggled to score runs in 2023 and lacked an overall vibrancy on offense. In a year that saw a record 168 players post at least five home runs and five stolen bases, the Giants were the only team without more than one.

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This will be the first time in a few years that the club won’t be relying upon a lineup of platoon players. They also won’t be counting on many stolen bases as a team — not even Lee was much of a stolen base threat in the KBO — and could be at the bottom of the league once again.

The 2024 season marks the 20th anniversary of Barry Bonds joining Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth as the only members of the 700 home run club. He slugged 45 homers that year and no member of the Giants have hit as many as 30 since. The last right-handed hitter to do it was Jeff Kent with 37 in 2002.

Can Jorge Soler and/or Matt Chapman end that drought?

Soler hit 36 with the Marlins last season and has a career-high of 48 on his résumé from 2019. Chapman is coming off a year in which he launched only 17 out of the park. His best season was also 2019 when he produced only 36.

A review of Statcast’s expected home runs suggest Chapman will be the one to snap this streak. From 2021-23, the third baseman hit 71 homers as a member of the A’s and Blue Jays. Accord to xHR, Chapman would have hit 86, including a pair of 30-plus homer campaigns.

It’s arguable the upgrades to defense are even more notable after making 117 errors last season, their most since 2001. Even if Nick Ahmed doesn’t offer much offensively, the former two-time Gold Glove Award winner will offer an improvement over the 20 errors the Giants received from their shortstops last year, most in the division.

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Chapman is a perennial candidate for the top defensive award and even has a pair of Platinum Glove Awards in his display case. Patrick Bailey was a finalist in his rookie campaign and Lee should also raise the bar as San Francisco had the worst defense in center field last season, according to FanGraphs’ defensive metric.

Projected Bench

Tyler Fitzgerald, Wilmer Flores, Tom Murphy, Austin Slater 

Wilmer Flores and Tom Murphy will provide a line change at first base and catcher, respectively, when a left-hander is on the mound. Austin Slater has also been adept at punishing southpaws over his career.

Tyler Fitzgerald will serve as the super utility player after proving sufficient playing center field for the first time in his career. 

It will be interesting to see how Marco Luciano fits into the picture after opening the year at Triple-A Sacramento. He had a decent showing in his 2023 debut, but he’ll benefit from regular at-bats before eventually pushing Ahmed to the bench if he can stick at the shortstop. Outfielder Luis Matos is in a similar spot after debuting at age-21 last season.

Projected Starting Rotation

1. RHP Logan WebbRHP Alex Cobb*
2. RHP Jordan HicksRHP Tristan Beck*
3. LHP Kyle HarrisonRHP Sean Hjelle*
4. RHP Keaton WinnLHP Robbie Ray*
5. LHP Blake SnellRHP Mason Black

The only thing better than having the reigning runner-up for the NL Cy Young Award is signing the actual winner well under market value.

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In Snell and Logan Webb, San Francisco has arguably the best one-two punch in any rotation. Come postseason play, they have the ability to tip the scales and win the club’s first World Series in a decade. (Hey, it is an even-numbered year, right?)

Jordan Hicks and his new team are betting on him stretching out to become a full-time starter for the first time since he was in the minors. Still just 27 years old, Hicks will still be considered a flamethrower as he surrenders some velocity on each pitch for more length in each game. 

Alex Cobb, an All-Star in 2023, will give further experience to the rotation when he returns from offseason hip surgery. That will allow Melvin and his staff to do what best for rookies Kyle Harrison and Keaton Winn.

Harrison, the team’s top prospect, has absurd strikeout numbers in his three minor league seasons. Control is the one area of concern for the 22-year-old. He handled his own over seven starts to close out 2023, never walking more than two. Five hitless innings against the Dodgers on Oct. 1, his second start against them in a week, was a glimpse into this southpaw’s potential.

There’s also the presence of another Cy Young Award winner on this roster. Robbie Ray and $74 million in future commitments were added in a trade from Seattle that will pay even more dividends in 2025-26. He’s recovering from a pair of surgeries that won’t allow him return to a big league mound until the second-half. 

At their peak, the Giants best five can’t match the Dodgers rotation when healthy. It’s better than the Padres and can hang with the Diamondbacks even after the acquisition of Jordan Montgomery. 

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Projected Bullpen

RHP Camilo Doval – CloserLHP Ethan Small*
RHP Tyler Rogers – 8thRHP Austin Warren*
LHP Taylor Rogers – 7thRHP Erik Miller
RHP Luke JacksonRHP Spencer Howard
RHP Ryan WalkerLHP Juan Sanchez
RHP Nick AvilaRHP Randy Rodriguez
RHP Landen RouppRHP Cody Stashak
RHP Daulton Jeffries – Long Reliever

San Francisco didn’t sign a reliever on a Major League deal this offseason and somehow the bullpen appears to have improved. (A significant boost to the rotation will do that.)

At 26-years old, Camilo Doval has established himself as one of the best closers in the game. He has a 2.77 ERA during his three years in the Majors and has racked up 66 saves over the past two campaigns, fifth-most during that time. Even more valuable is his availability. Of the top 14 closers with at least 40 saves since 2022, only Emmanuel Clase has made more appearances (152) than Doval (137).

Luke Jackson is another year from TJ surgery and has shown signs of improving on his 2.97 ERA over 33 games last season. Taylor and Tyler Rogers are consistent from both sides and capable of closing games if needed.

Hicks — yes, him again — might be a wild card for the club to use late in games if things go poorly for him in the first-half and well for the rest of the rotation.

Prospects to Keep an Eye On

SS Marco LucianoLHP Carson Whisenhunt
OF/1B Bryce EldridgeRHP Hayden Birdsong

The Giants gave Marco Luciano $2.6 million as the top international shortstop from the 2018 class. The 22-year-old boasts loud skills at the plate, from bat speed to above average exit velocities to substantial power. He demonstrates a certain level of patience at the plate, but is also capable of being aggressive. While primarily a shortstop throughout his professional career, his range is enough of a concern that a transition to third base or corner outfield may be in his future.

Bryce Eldridge, a two-way prospect that dazzled throughout the amateur circuit, was selected with the 16th overall pick last summer. Possessing exceptional raw strength with his left-handed swing, Eldridge began his pro career strictly as an outfielder. He performed better in the Arizona Complex League than at Low-A San Jose, but he still impressed as an 18-year-old. At 6-foot-7, the comparisons to Yankees’ prospect Spencer Jones are endless.

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The Giants bought low on Carson Whisenhunt in the 2022 MLB Draft after a suspension at East Carolina for PEDs. His many versions of the changeup have already proved elite. A top 100 prospect by most accounts, the 23-year-old southpaw could become a tick better than a middle of the rotation starter if he develops a third pitch in his arsenal.

Hayden Birdsong came from the same draft as Whisenhunt, albeit in the sixth round. San Francisco gave him the opportunity to become a full-time starter, something he struggled to do while at Eastern Illinois University. Like Whisenhunt, he managed to reach Double-A Richmond in 2023 in his first full-season as a pro. With a fastball reaching the upper-90s and a mature combination of curveball and slider, Birdsong may end up the best of the Giants’ young pitchers. 

2024 Outlook

Offseason expectations were high the last few years. President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi failed to meet the challenge, by all accounts. Now, with everything having worked out in the end for San Francisco, the outlook this season is as promising as ever.

Should the Giants fail, heads may roll.  

The team is already above the first luxury tax threshold after the recent signings and on the cusp of the first surcharge at $257 million. They’ll sacrifice two draft picks for signing Chapman and Snell, in addition to $1 million of international signing bonus money.

Chips have been pushed to the center of the table for 2024.

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The only thing left to do is play the game and see if the risk pays off.