SCOTTSDALE -- The Giants locked up one Brandon in November, and they’re trying to see if they can do the same with the other one before the season starts.
General manager Bobby Evans met with Brandon Belt’s representatives Monday, continuing extension talks that started during the arbitration process in the offseason. Before agreeing to a one-year, $6.2 million deal in February, the Giants and Belt explored a multi-year deal. The first baseman will be a free agent after the 2017 season.
“We’re exploring options,” Evans said. “There’s no pressure — we have him for two more years. There’s no pressure, but if we have the opportunity, it’d be wise to take advantage of it. We’ll see how it plays out.
“We have a fan base here that appreciates him and a club he fits well on, and he’s been a big part of our success.”
Belt, who turns 28 in April, is coming off a strong season. He hit .280 with a career-high 18 homers and a team-leading .478 slugging percentage. Belt ranked 10th among NL hitters in wRC+, which accounts for your home park, and 17th in the league in WAR. He was a finalist for the Gold Glove Award for the first time.
Belt said it’s hard to know what to expect as discussions pick up.
“It’s weird because I haven’t been through this,” he said. “I’m not sure I have expectations. You play it by ear. You talk with people you know, people you trust, people you’re surrounded by.”
The Giants have made a habit of locking up their young cornerstone players, but the Belt negotiations could be more complicated. The two sides have rarely seen eye to eye during the arbitration process, and Belt once flew all the way to Florida for a hearing before agreeing to a last-minute deal. Belt’s resume is complicated by the fact that concussions and a broken thumb have cost him significant playing time, so his representatives have always focused on rate stats rather than raw totals.
Giants executives have said that even after the offseason spending spree and the $75 million deal Brandon Crawford got, they still have the financial space to give Belt a significant extension. But it may be hard to find common ground. Excel Sports Management, Belt's agency, also represents Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, who has had more big league success than Belt but remains a comparable player. Freeman signed an eight-year, $135 million deal in 2014, buying out three arbitration years and his first five years of free agency.