The Giants have struck minor-league deals with veteran slugger Michael Morse and outfielder Justin Ruggiano, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America (via Twitter). Details of their arrangements are not yet known.
It’s particularly interesting that the Giants have brought back the 34-year-old Morse, whose last productive, full-season stint came with the San Francisco organization. Since wrapping up a 2014 season in which he slashed .279/.336/.475 and hit 16 home runs over 482 plate appearances, Morse has taken just 264 total trips to the plate.
After helping the Giants to a World Series title, Morse joined the Marlins on a two-year, $16MM pact that didn’t work out for either party. He bounced from the Dodgers (without suiting up) and then on to the Pirates in 2015, and did provide Pittsburgh with 45 games of useful offense — driven, out of his usual character, but a high-OBP/low-power blend (.275/.390/.391).
Morse didn’t last long with the Bucs in 2016, however, appearing in just six contests before being designated and then released. He never ended up signing with another organization over the rest of the season, leaving an open question as to whether he’d attempt a return.
It remains to be seen just how much of a chance Morse will have at cracking the roster. He’s listed by Eddy as a first baseman, which doesn’t seem to be a terribly likely route to playing time with the Giants, who utilize Brandon Belt there and may also use the position to rest catcher Buster Posey while keeping his bat in the lineup. But Morse could conceivably function as a bench bat and still see time in the outfield, where he is among the game’s worst fielders.
As things stand, San Francisco looks to be in search of a solution in left field, where Morse last played. Unproven but well-regarded youngsters Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker could be first in line, with Gorkys Hernandez also presenting an option. The club has already added Kyle Blanks and Chris Marrero on minor-league pacts as well, suggesting that some camp competition may be in order.
Joining that mix, too, is Ruggiano, who is also 34 years of age. He saw minimal time in the majors last year, with a late-season stint with the Mets cut short by hamstring issues. Ruggiano has been productive in brief stretches in recent years, though, and has a track record of solid production against left-handed pitching. Despite largely struggling against same-handed pitching, Ruggiano has slashed a robust .275/.338/.527 in his career when he has the benefit of the platoon advantage.