Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi and manager Gabe Kapler spoke with reporters today. They touched on a wide array of topics, offering insight into the club’s early outlooks at third base, behind the plate, and in the starting rotation.
Zaidi said the club considers David Villar the starting third baseman heading into camp (relayed by Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Area). The 26-year-old earned the first crack at securing the job after an impressive rookie season. Despite lacking much prospect pedigree, the South Florida product has consistently performed at an excellent level in the minors. He had arguably his best season with Triple-A Sacramento in 2022, connecting on 27 home runs with an incredible .275/.404/.617 showing over 84 games.
The Giants called Villar up for the first time last July. He continued to make a strong power impact, hitting nine homers over his first 181 MLB plate appearances. Villar also walked at an above-average 9.9% clip against big league pitching, though his 32% strikeout rate is alarming. Villar has run higher than average strikeout rates throughout his time in the minors as well. He’s consistently more than offset that with strong plate discipline and power, however, and his .231/.331/.455 line through his first 52 MLB games was a strong start.
Villar has primarily played third base as a minor leaguer. He also has some experience at the other corner infield spot and at second base. Zaidi indicated the Giants would continue to get Villar some work at second base this spring, allowing Kapler to pencil him into the lineup at the keystone on days when Thairo Estrada moves to shortstop to give Brandon Crawford a day off.
The Giants have J.D. Davis and Wilmer Flores on hand as potential third base alternatives. Each of Villar, Flores and Davis hits from the right side. Davis has had neutral platoon splits over the course of his career, while Flores has fared better against left-handed pitching as most righty hitters do. The Giants look set to turn to left-handed hitting LaMonte Wade Jr. and Joc Pederson at first base and designated hitter, respectively.
Both Wade and Pederson have struggled against lefties in their careers, leaving opportunities for Davis and Flores to factor in at those positions. Aside from Crawford, the only left-handed hitting infielders on the roster are Isan Díaz and Brett Wisely. Neither player is established at the MLB level yet and both can still be optioned to the minor leagues.
There’s a fair bit of possible fluidity to the group, but the 26-year-old Villar will get a chance to seize everyday playing time if he can replicate or improve upon his rookie showing. The catcher situation could be even more up in the air. Kapler suggested there’s a true four-way competition for reps behind the plate and indicated no one in camp is assured of an MLB job (link via Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle).
Former second overall pick Joey Bart was the primary starter last season. He connected on 11 home runs with a .215/.296/.364 line over 291 trips to the plate. Bart’s power has long drawn plaudits from evaluators, though his overall offense at the MLB level has been below-average thanks to huge strikeout tallies. He fanned in 38.5% of his plate appearances last season, the third-highest rate among players with at least 250 trips. Bart is still only 26 and has hit the ball hard when he’s made contact. It’s certainly not out of the question he can be a productive #1 catcher, but he’ll likely have to take a step forward with his bat-to-ball skills to take a firm claim to that job.
The only other catcher on the 40-man roster is Rule 5 draftee Blake Sabol, whom the club has to keep on the MLB roster or place on waivers and offer back to the Pirates. Sabol has no MLB experience, splitting last season between the top two levels of the minor leagues. He was excellent at both stops, combining for a .284/.363/.497 line over 513 trips to the plate. The 25-year-old also saw some corner outfield work in the minors, but Kapler informed reporters the Giants strictly consider him a catcher.
Bart and Sabol are joined in camp by a pair of more experienced non-roster invitees. Last year’s backup Austin Wynns accepted an outright assignment after clearing waivers last month. He’s coming off a .259/.313/.358 showing across 66 MLB games. Two-time Gold Glove award winner Roberto Pérez is also in camp after signing a minor league contract as a free agent. He lost virtually all of last season with the Pirates after suffering a serve hamstring strain. Pérez is just a .207/.298/.360 career hitter but regarded as one of the sport’s best defensive catchers.
On the other side of the ball, Kapler informed reporters that righty Anthony DeSclafani enters camp healthy after undergoing surgery on his right ankle last July (link via Evan Webeck of the San Jose Mercury News). That kept the veteran hurler to five starts in the first season of a three-year free agent deal. DeSclafani had been a crucial member of the starting five the year prior, tossing 167 2/3 innings of 3.17 ERA ball to earn a $36MM guarantee over the 2021-22 offseason.
A healthy DeSclafani should vie for a rotation spot, although it’s possible he’s outside the top five options on Opening Day. Logan Webb is the staff ace, followed by Alex Cobb in the second spot. Offseason signees Sean Manaea and Ross Stripling are penciled into the middle of the group. That leaves DeSclafani and Alex Wood in the mix for the fifth spot. Zaidi indicated the club could use a six-man starting staff on occasion but cast doubt about the possibility of deploying that permanently. It’s possible one of DeSclafani or Wood starts the season in the bullpen if everyone’s healthy, although a Spring Training or early-season injury could clarify the decision.
San Francisco is already preparing to push Jakob Junis back into a multi-inning relief role after he started 17 of 23 games last season. Top prospect Kyle Harrison figures to get a rotation look at some point during the year, although he’ll open the season with Sacramento.
If he’s healthy, at some point in the season Roberto Pérez will become the Giants primary catcher (doubt they’ll start the season
off that way).
None of their catchers hit very well. Pérez is a master at handling a pitching staff. All things being equal his ability behind the plate is their best chance of winning games and developing their young pitchers.
Plain and simple. Joey Bart is a BUST . Everybody knows this except Giants fans.
370 career at bats. Cool.
Plain and simple.
You are a repetitive troll.
Only hockey fans don’t know.
Looks like SFG sending clear message to Bart. This is his make it or break it season. I hope he makes it. When he connects it’s hit hard, but whiffs way too much. I hope someone has thought to check his eyesight. Villar looks to be a stud, but a real log jam at 3B seems to be coming when Casey Schmitt shows ready. If sooner than later expect Flores or Davis traded at the deadline.
We just resigned Flores. When Schmidt is ready I say DFA Lamonte Wade.
Probably a make it or break it year for Lamont as well.
Wade got hurt the last day of spring training and never got his season going. Similar to Yaz before 2021 season. Late Night gets a pass but it is a make or break season for him. Keep in mind, he’s only making $1.38M this season.
Joey Bart Future MVP
Bart will hit like Posey and all the haters will have to shut up. SF looks like the clear favorite in the whole NL next year.
Doyer fans went into panic mode as soon as we signed Stripling and Conforto.
I’m convinced with his high strikeout rate he will become Mike Zunino 2.0 instead of Posey 2.0
That’s still a starting caliber catcher.
As a Giants fan, lol
I like the depth they’re building here. Seems like the minors might begin to start pushing alittle bit. About Time if you ask me. The Catchers they have, I Agree it’s Bart’s make it or break it season. If he struggles, he’ll be trade bait. The power is there. And that’s worth something. Sometimes catchers take alittle longer to develop. I like the pitching depth. But I would have liked keeping Rondon much better. His price was way over the top. And the Giants are thinking longer term. It still seems that the team is patched together year after year. But without any longer term contracts on the hook with aging players, Maybe for now it’s a good thing. Let’s see what they can do. Health for me again is the biggest factor for this teams success. And maybe they Add at the trade deadline. Who knows.
With Kyle Harrison getting close I can see why the Giants didn’t need to high spend on Rodon. I don’t see him lasting that contract without injury issues.
Yanks can keep those long term deals. SFG just got free from that kind of baggage.
A 21 year old who’s never played in the Majors, should never be the reason why you don’t sign a quality free agent – especially pitching. They obviously had their reasons, but Kyle Harrison isn’t one.
Won’t really know how this plays out until it does, but in two years I’m betting Harrison is a strong #2 starter and Rodon deal not looking good.
Reasons were contract length and Harrison as a replacement lefty SP for the rotation in that time frame.
I’m with you gfan, Kyle Harrison looked like a stud at de la Salle high school at age 18 and he’s done everything that’s been asked of him in the minors. I know prospects are prospects until they shine on the big stage, but I’m super stoked to see him make it.
I loved Rodón but no way Zaidi wanted to sign that long of a contract with him.
To me a young controllable arm that has dominated at every level is exactly the reason not to have resigned Rodon. I liked him too, and was Bumgarners biggest fan. I think we got the best years from both. Yanks have a boat load of long risky deals with some already looking bad. Trending younger and seeing upcoming talent has me stoked for this year and beyond.
Well he should be. Harrison will be a dominant MLB pitcher! Count on it
Joey Bart may have much fewer plate appearances than Joey Gallo, but he has a higher career strikeout rate than the latter. The issue is while Bart might have a lower career whiff rate by 4.3% compared to Gallo, Bart has a chase rate nearly 10% greater than Gallo. First thing he needs to do is become more selective at the plate. His zone swing rate is 2.6% below the average, compared to Gallo who’s about 2.4% better than the average. Overall, he makes more conctact in the zone than Gallo does.
Just like last year, it’s a motivator for Bart. He has the talent and really picked it up when he returned to the show last year. Perez will only make him better.
Would be nice to carry three catchers if only we could somehow.
Bart is just another highly touted former Giants prospect that will amount to very little…just like Kyle Crick, Christian Arroyo, Steven Duggar, etc.
How much to cross your bridge ?
Arroyo is a starting caliber big leaguer.
0.8 WAR last season with 103 OPS+. 2.3 WAR total in 6 years in the majors with 91 OPS+. Yup, that spells starting caliber big leaguer to me. /S
This one belongs to the Reds
I have no knowledge of this guy other than a few games, but…what does the eye test tell you, stat boy? There’s more to a big league baseball player than your particular stats that do not take a whole lot into account.
A 103 OPS+ is respectable. He also graded out as a solid defensive second baseman (4 defensive runs saved, 3.1 UZR/150). The last two years, he’s been an above average hitter with a .750 OPS, .324 wOBA, and 104 wRC+. One reason Arroyo’s WAR was likely brought down was because he was a terrible defensive outfielder. Only 108 inings, but he had -5 defensive runs saved, -3 outs above average, and -24.6 UZR/150. That was the first time Arroyo played any outfield as a professional baseball player.
Poseys' Thrill Ride
Lasting Milledge and Paul Wilson say hello.
Since when was Steven Duggar a “highly touted prospect”?
One word. OUCH!
I feel so sorry for Giants fans. Its going to be a rough year.
Another guy with a gloomy crystal ball.
At least most of the doomers from earlier this winter have scurried off and it’s much more peaceful without them. Go Giants!!!!!
Nah. All the projections are for the Giants to be bad to mediocre this season. 80.5 wins in Vegas and 80 on most of the baseball sites. They will be fighting it out with the Diamondbacks for 3rd place in the West.
Fangraphs has the Giants projected at 88 wins, but whatever.
Not true. Zips has them at 88 wins. 3 behind the Padres and Dodgers.
When the dust settles, I predict the Giants will have a better record than the Red Sox for 2023. My bold prognostication for the day.
80 wins to the Red Sox 78?
Concerning Villar, not sure why Giants are anointing him the starter just yet. He’s got options and with Davis and Flores in the mix it would seem Villar is headed back to AAA. Unless, of course, the team makes a trade. Davis seems like the logical choice since Flores was given an extension. OR, trade Villar for catching help and count on Schmitt emerging this season.
Depth is not a bad problem to have. Hopefully Farhan does more than just rat hole the surplus and flips it for areas of need.
Giants to trade for Moncada?!
The giants couldn’t expect to get another buster posey anytime soon but drafting two catchers in the first round within a few years (Bart #2, Bailey #13) and it not looking like either can even become a middle of the road average starting catcher is kind of disappointing.
As I said nobody should have expected a next posey but if you draft 2 catchers in the first half of the first round you definitely hope for one average starter at that position if not a little more.
One of the two may still turn out to be an average or better MLB’er.
Yeah I think bailey could become a decent hitter but there are questions whether he can stay behind the plate defensively, many believe he needs to move off there.
Huh? Didn’t Bailey just win a minor league gold glove?
Giants are trading for Manny Machado or Soto
This one belongs to the Reds
Padres fans would burn the place down if that happens.
Rick Hahn likely still working on a blockbuster trade.
Maybe Sox get back a 5th starting P.
Or a 2B.
I’m more encouraged by Villar than I normally would be, given such a small sample size. But the fact that he walked quite a few times makes me think that he is not just a flash in the pan.
and they can move him to 2b which is his more natural position once Casey Schmitt arrives
2B is definitely not his natural position.
Joc Pederson has only played 20 games at 1B his career, so he is not “set” at 1B. He will be the DH against RH Starters and on the bench otherwise. Will play LF in a pinch.
I hope JD Davis plays close to every day. He has no platoon split at all.. Wade should be immediately pinch hit for if he is ever set to face LHP.
I think you may have read that wrong. Joc not gonna play 1st.
Kinda wish he could cuz Lamont is iffy there. Agree on Davis should be primary there if Lamont doesn’t get back to prior years form with the bat.
Regarding DeSclafani, the articles says:
“DeSclafani enters camp healthy after undergoing surgery on his right ankle last July. That kept the veteran hurler to five starts in the first season of a three-year free agent deal.
That’s incorrect. Last season was the second year of the deal, after he’d been excellent in 2021 (138 ERA+), the first year of the deal.
No, you are wrong. In 2021 he was playing on a 1 year deal.
Oops, wrong again. My apologies to Anthony.
Only way to make the Giants better is to fire Kaplernic.
Huh? Kapler? The dude that managed the 2021 team that had the best record in Giants history?