The San Francisco Giants won 107 regular-season games, coming out of nowhere to capture the best record in the sport, and yet their season ended on a check swing that was called a strike, a cruel end to a painstakingly close first-round series against the star-laden Los Angeles Dodgers.
In the immediate aftermath, moments after a 2-1 loss in Game 5 of the National League Division Series late Thursday night, Giants manager Gabe Kapler reflected on the closeness of a group that was suddenly forced to pull apart.
"The unselfishness that this team showed throughout the year, the trust that they showed in one another, was second to none, better than any season that I've ever been a part of as a player, as a coach, in any position in baseball," Kapler said. "I just respect the hell out of a team-first mentality. I've never seen it like this. This is the best I've ever seen. So if there's a message, it's, 'Continue with that.' We're going to build on this season and be better because we have that foundation in place -- that foundation of trust and unselfishness."
The problem, however, is that a lot of those foundational pieces will soon venture into the free-agent market, leaving the Giants with an assortment of difficult decisions to untangle during an offseason that begins much sooner than they would have hoped. Below is a look through all of it.
Notable free agents: C Buster Posey (club option), 1B Brandon Belt, INF/OF Kris Bryant, SP Kevin Gausman, SP Alex Wood, SP Anthony DeSclafani, SP Johnny Cueto (club option), INF Donovan Solano, INF Wilmer Flores (club option), RP Dominic Leone, RP Jose Alvarez (club option)
There was a time, believe it or not, when people wondered if this would be Posey's final season with the Giants. Now it's all but a formality that they will pick up his $22 million option for 2022 (unless they replace it with an extension). When that happens, the Giants will be committed to just five players at about $65.5 million next season, and only two players at $27.5 million for 2023. It'll be fascinating to see what they do with that flexibility.