The Giants have agreed to a minor league contract with veteran outfielder Gerardo Parra, reports Jon Heyman of the MLB Network (Twitter link). The Octagon client will head to Major League Spring Training in hopes of earning a spot on San Francisco’s Opening Day roster. If he can, Parra would earn a $1.75MM salary, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network (Twitter link), with $250K in incentives tied to plate appearances.
Parra, 31, wrapped up a three-year, $27.5MM with the division-rival Rockies in 2018 — one that did not pay the dividends the Colorado organization had hoped when signing Parra in the 2015-16 offseason. During his three years with the Rox, Parra posted a .283/.320/.407 slash that looks solid on the surface but checked in well south of the league average when adjusting for park and league. Weighted metrics such as OPS+ (82) and wRC+ (77) felt that Parra’s bat was anywhere from 18 to 23 percent worse than that of an average-hitter over that span. And last season, Parra turned in the least-powerful campaign of his 10-year Major League career (six homers, 17 doubles, no triples, .087 ISO in 443 plate appearances).
Defensively speaking, Parra has a steady track record as a quality corner glove. Though defensive metrics weren’t kind to him in his first year with Colorado, that season now looks anomalous in nature. Parra tallied +11 Defensive Runs Saved and a 10.2 Ultimate Zone Rating from 2017-18. Statcast pegged him as a roughly scratch defender in that time (+1 outs above average).
Overall, Parra is a useful defender in the outfield corners — one who has long shown solid contact skills and managed to get on base at a respectable clip, as evidenced by a career .278/.325/.405 slash. All of that offensive output has come while playing his home games in a hitter-friendly setting (Diamondbacks, Orioles, Rockies, Brewers), but with a career strikeout rate of just 17 percent, Parra undeniably has quality bat-to-ball skills that could help him to earn a spot in a currently barren Giants outfield mix.
Young Steven Duggar is returning from shoulder surgery and will hope to lay claim to regular center field duties at the newly renamed Oracle Park, but he didn’t hit especially well in his rookie debut last season. Depending on the health of his shoulder and his early production, it’s certainly possible that he’d still need some further development. Beyond Duggar are Austin Slater, Chris Shaw and the out-of-options Mac Williamson — none of whom has solidified himself as a big league regular.
Of course, the potential for a radical shift in the Giants’ outfield mix still looms large, with the team recently reported to be in the mix for Bryce Harper. Certainly, adding Parra on a non-guaranteed deal does nothing to lessen the Giants’ chances of landing Harper, though ultimately signing Harper would obviously hinder Parra’s chances of cracking the roster in San Francisco.