The Giants have signed first baseman John Nogowski to a minor league contract that runs through the 2022 season, NBC Sports Bay Area’s Jessica Kleinschmidt reports (Twitter links). Nogowski wasn’t on the open market for very long, as he was only released by the Pirates three days ago.
After making his MLB debut with a one-game cup of coffee with the Cardinals in 2020, Nogowski played in 19 more games with St. Louis this year before the Cards dealt him to Pittsburgh in July. Nogowski posted an 1.074 OPS over his first 53 plate appearances with his new team, but he fell back to earth after that tremendous start, and finished with a .677 OPS over his 123 PA in a Pirates uniform. For the season as a whole, Nogowski has hit .233/.301/.310 with one home run over 143 PA.
Nogowski is no stranger to the Bay Area, as he spent his first three pro seasons in the Athletics’ organization after being selected in the 34th round of the 2014 draft. The 28-year-old has posted some solid numbers over his minor league career, particularly in terms of on-base percentage — Nogowski’s .269/.388/.423 slash line over 680 PA at the Triple-A level is a bit better than his overall career numbers as a minor leaguer.
Given the Giants’ knack for revitalizing hitters, it might not be surprising to see Nogowski translate those minor league numbers into production at the big league level. Albeit in the small sample size of 147 PA in the majors, Nogowski has a very high 87.8% contact rate, so there is some interesting potential if Nogowski is able to improve the quality of that contact.
Nogowski has primarily been a first baseman during his career but has played a few games in the outfield, giving him a bit of the positional flexibility that the Giants prefer. Looking at San Francisco’s right-handed hitting bench options, Nogowski can provide depth if Donovan Solano leaves in free agency, or if the Giants wanted to move on from arbitration-eligibles like Austin Slater or Darin Ruf (though Ruf in particular has had an excellent season). While the Giants have a number of quality bench or platoon players, the club might be looking to stockpile even more depth should the National League adopt the DH for 2022 and beyond.