MLB Free Agents 2021: Latest Rumors, Predictions for Giants, Steven Matz, More

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistNovember 23, 2021

MLB Free Agents 2021: Latest Rumors, Predictions for Giants, Steven Matz, More

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    The San Francisco Giants may have won the most games in franchise history this past season, but they have no championship to show for it. That lack of a title and celebratory parade has left the team searching this off-season for pitchers who can help bolster the bullpen.

    Alex Cobb and Alex Wood have caught the attention of the team, but are they locks to join the rotation?

    Another pitcher drawing attention from teams other than San Francisco is Steven Matz, the former Blue Jay testing free agency.

    Where might he take his talents to following a rebound season in Toronto?

Steven Matz to Sign Before Thanksigiving

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    Gail Burton/Associated Press

    Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported former Blue Jays lefty Steven Matz is expected to sign with a new team before Thanksgiving. "He's had a lot of interest, including the Mets checking in on a possible reunion," he added.

    Anthony Franco of said the incumbent Jays, Red Sox, Dodgers, Cardinals and Angels are also in the mix.

    The southpaw is a solid starter, allowing just 18 homers and 43 balls in 29 starts in 2021. Both his ERA (3.82) and ground ball percentage (45.6) were among the best of his career.

    It was a bounce-back campaign for Statz, who played his way out of New York following a sub-par 2020 season.

    That he has the amount of interest from hopeful playoff contenders is a testament to what he accomplished last season. On the surface, the fact that the Blue Jays took a chance on him would give them an advantage in the sweepstakes.

    That he is so familiar with the Mets organization and the team is showing a desire to bring him back into the fold might weigh heavily, too.

    The other teams may be in better shape to make a postseason run given what they accomplished this season, but it most likely comes down to Toronto and New York, with the highest bidder winning out.

Giants in Talks with Alex Cobb...

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    San Francisco is in discussions with Angels right-hander Alex Cobb, per San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser. The team is said to be making a "strong push."

    While he still fought injuries, something that has plagued his career, the veteran pitcher turned in his best season in years.

    His strikeout rate (25.9) was the best of his career. His ERA (3.76) was the best since 2017. When healthy, Cobb was a more-than-effective pitcher. The idea that the Giants, off a historic year in which they won the most games in franchise history, would want to add him isn't at all surprising.

    They can afford it, too, according to Steve Adams of "Cobb should command a good bit less than the $14.25MM annual salary he received on that last contract with the Orioles."

    The Giants gave up 18 runs in three losses to the Dodgers in the NLDS. Bolstering the bullpen for a deeper, more fruitful postseason run should help. The question is whether Cobb can both stay healthy and replicate the season he had a year ago to warrant signing him.

    Given the "strong push" the Giants are making to bring him into the fold, it appears as though they are about to find out.

...and Alex Wood

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    The Giants are not stopping with Cobb, either.

    Robert Murray of Fansided reported the team is closing a deal to bring back lefty Alex Wood.

    Wood played in 26 games for the Giants a year ago and turned in his lowest ERA (3.83) since 2018. He also only walked 6.17-percent of batters. A 50-percent ground-ball percentage rounded an impressive statistical season.

    That he stayed reasonably healthy only enhanced it.

    Like Cobb, he would vastly improve a bullpen that may have helped the team achieve record wins but came up short against the big bats of the Dodgers in the postseason. Wood carried his heaviest workload in years, proving he can be a starter for the club.

    How the team toys with the rotation to make it most effective so that it can return to the postseason will prove the biggest key. One wrong positioning of a player can set up another championship disappointment.