Giants catcher Austin Wynns has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Sacramento, according to Maria I. Guardado of MLB.com. President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi had previously implied Wynns went through waivers unclaimed after being designated for assignment last week to make room for Michael Conforto on the 40-man roster, and expressed hope that Wynns would stay in the organization to compete for the backup catcher job in Spring Training.
Wynns arrived in San Francisco after being acquired from the Phillies in early June in exchange for left-hander Michael Plessmeyer and cash, and immediately took a role on the big league club following Joey Bart’s demotion to Triple-A. Wynns went on to appear in 65 games for the Giants in 2022, slashing a decent .241/.315/.356 (93 wRC+) across 177 plate appearances in that time. While those results are 7% below those of an average major-league hitter, that’s still more than enough to be an acceptable catching option at the big league level; that same 93 wRC+ ranked 23rd among all catchers last year (min. 170 PA).
While his offensive numbers last year cast him as a serviceable backstop in the big leagues, Wynns is not without potential warts. Prior to the 2022 season, he had played parts of three seasons with the Orioles, and slashed just .216/.255/.326 (55 wRC+) in that time. Combined with an wOBA (.298) in 2022 that outstripped his xwOBA (.267) by a considerable amount, and it’s easy to wonder how sustainable his step forward offensively last year was. Additionally, Wynns celebrated his 32nd birthday last month, an age by which many catchers begin to suffer from decline due to the demands of their position.
Still, there’s more than enough positives for the Giants to give him a shot at earning the backup job behind Bart in 2023. Catcher of the future Patrick Bailey hit well in High-A last year, but seems unlikely to impact the big leagues until 2024, leaving Rule 5 draftee Blake Sabol as the main competition for Wynns this spring, assuming the Giants don’t add a veteran like Jorge Alfaro on a minor-league deal at some point down the line.