LOS ANGELES — With their best-of-five NLDS series against the Dodgers tied 1-1, the Giants have plenty to focus on aside from the status of injured first baseman Brandon Belt.
If the Giants do advance to the NLCS, however, Belt’s status will become a hot topic and manager Gabe Kapler said Sunday he wouldn’t rule out the possibility of the team adding Belt to the club’s 26-man roster.
“The prognosis has not changed,” Kapler said after Belt received a two-week checkup with a hand specialist.
Belt fractured his left thumb on Sunday, September 26 when a 93-mile per hour fastball from Rockies left-hander Lucas Gilbreath hit the left-handed slugger while he was attempting to bunt. The 11th-year veteran initially stayed in the game to run the bases, but was removed when the Giants returned to the diamond in the bottom of the seventh inning of their 6-2 victory.
Despite initial optimism that Belt had avoided serious injury, he was diagnosed with a hairline fracture and placed on the 10-day injured list during the final week of the season. Kapler said the Giants’ “dream scenario” for Belt was to activate him for a potential NLCS series, but he said Sunday during a press conference in Los Angeles that the prognosis for Belt has not changed.
The Giants have not released a timeline for Belt’s eventual return to baseball activity, but Kapler has said Belt will need to begin a hitting progression and throwing progression before rejoining the roster. If the Giants advance to the NLCS against the winner of a NLDS series between the Braves and Brewers, the series would begin Saturday at Oracle Park.
It appears unlikely Belt would be ready to play at the beginning of a best-of-seven series, but if the Giants believe he’ll be healthy enough to contribute by the middle or end of it, it’s possible the club could add him to the NLCS roster and remove another position player.
Belt led the Giants with a career-high 29 home runs this season and posted a .975 OPS in 381 plate appearances.
The pending free agent told the Bay Area News Group in September that he would love to remain with the Giants, but also acknowledged that his future is uncertain. If the Giants cannot quickly work out an extension with Belt this offseason, it’s possible and perhaps even likely the club could give Belt a one-year qualifying offer.
Belt would then have 10 days to accept an offer that will be worth the mean salary of MLB’s 125 highest-paid players. Last offseason, the Giants extended a qualifying offer to starter Kevin Gausman, who agreed to terms on a deal that paid him $18.9 million for the 2021 season.
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Author: Kerry Crowley