Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi met with reporters Thursday afternoon. Among the topics discussed was the team’s catching situation, which doesn’t seem to be a top priority for the front office.
San Francisco designated backup Austin Wynns for assignment last week, leaving them with just Joey Bart and Rule 5 draftee Blake Sabol as catchers on the 40-man roster. Despite that rather thin depth chart, Zaidi indicated the club is not likely to add a catcher on a major league free agent deal (relayed by Evan Webeck of the San Jose Mercury News). The Giants’ baseball operations leader implied that Wynns has already gone unclaimed on waivers, though he’ll have the right to elect minor league free agency as a player who has previously been outrighted in his career.
Zaidi indicated the team was hopeful of bringing Wynns back to the organization on a minor league pact, though the 32-year-old will have the chance to explore other opportunities. Even if Wynns returns, San Francisco could bring in another non-roster invitee to major league camp.
It seems they’re content heading into exhibition play with just Bart and Sabol on the 40-man roster. That’d suggest the 26-year-old Bart has a firm hold on the #1 job after hitting .215/.296/.364 through 291 plate appearances last season. The former second overall pick connected on 11 home runs but punched out in nearly 39% of his trips to the dish.
That’s also a strong vote of confidence for Sabol, who has no big league experience. The 25-year-old had spent four years in the Pirates’ system after being selected in the 7th round of the 2019 draft. The left-handed hitter split last year between Pittsburgh’s top two affiliates, putting up an impressive .284/.363/.497 line across 513 combined plate appearances. That wasn’t enough for the Bucs to add him to their 40-man roster despite a very thin catching situation of their own. It obviously impressed San Francisco brass, though, as the Giants orchestrated a trade with the Reds to acquire Sabol’s Rule 5 rights.
Cincinnati, who had the fourth pick in the Rule 5 draft, selected Sabol. They immediately dealt him to the Giants, who sent back minor league pitcher Jake Wong. San Francisco has to keep the USC product on their major league roster or injured list all season or place him on waivers and offer him back to Pittsburgh if he goes unclaimed. Wynns’ designation and a lack of urgency to add another big league catcher suggests the front office is confident in Sabol’s ability to hold his own at the big league level.
There are a few remaining free agent catchers who could sign minor league deals. Kevin Plawecki, Robinson Chirinos, Jorge Alfaro, Tres Barrera and Luis Torrens are candidates for a non-roster pact. Reports this week tied San Francisco to Gary Sánchez, but that seems unlikely unless the Giants pivot to make a big league commitment. As the top remaining free agent backstop, Sánchez figures to secure a guaranteed deal somewhere.