Although the Giants’ outfield ended the 2019 campaign a lowly 22nd in WAR and 28th in wRC+, the club hasn’t made any notable moves to upgrade the area since then. But president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi believes that will change before spring training opens, as he told John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle.
“I would still expect us to add one or two players to the outfield mix before we get to camp,” Zaidi said. “Whether by trade or free agency, whether it’s the NRI (non-roster invitee) route or the major-league roster, there are still guys out there we think will be good additions for us. That would still be our expectation.”
Zaidi was unwilling to comment on specific players who are available, but he revealed that the team’s “evaluating every guy.” While free agency is low on potentially impactful players at this stage, it’s worth noting that at least a few of the top outfielders remaining do have Giants connections. The best outfielder left, Yasiel Puig, played for the archrival Dodgers when Zaidi was their GM. Kevin Pillar was a well-respected Giant during his time there last season, but the team non-tendered him in November instead of paying him a projected $9.7MM in arbitration (however, perhaps San Francisco will circle back to him at a cheaper cost). Cameron Maybin’s also still unsigned – he was a Giant last spring, though they released him before the start of the season.
Elsewhere on the market, another ex-Giant, Hunter Pence, as well as Domingo Santana, Jarrod Dyson, Billy Hamilton, Jacoby Ellsbury and Juan Lagares represent other notable outfield-capable players looking for jobs. As you’d expect at this stage of the offseason, though, all come with their share of warts. Pence and Santana are likely better suited for DH roles; Dyson, Hamilton and Lagares bring little to the table offensively; and the injury-riddled Ellsbury hasn’t taken the field since 2017.
As things stand, the Giants are projected to enter 2020 with a fairly unproven outfield, which was also the case last year before they acquired Pillar from Toronto at the start of April. Now, Mike Yastrzemski looks like the most promising member of the group, having enjoyed a strong rookie season in 2019. Alex Dickerson also put up good overall offensive numbers, but the lefty hitter did all of his damage versus righties and saw his production plummet as the season progressed. Meanwhile, the Giants’ other projected starting outfielder, Steven Duggar, endured a rough year while dealing with injuries.
Beyond Yastrzemski, Dickerson and Duggar, the Giants have Jaylin Davis – whom FanGraphs calls “a potential low-end regular” – as well as Austin Slater, Joey Rickard and Drew Robinson, among others, as possibilities to begin the year on the roster. Judging by Zaidi’s comments, though, they and the rest of San Francisco’s in-house outfield candidates could have more company when camp opens.