As the Chicago Cubs ended the San Francisco Giants quest for a fourth World Series title, Bobby Evans — suddenly thrust into his third offseason no more than an hour after a Game 5 showdown at Wrigley Field seemed inevitable — knew he had to address the matter of who would assume the role of closer and who would snatch left field.
Five months later, the former issue now needn’t be discussed for years to come; the latter, still remains uncertain.
Instead of attempting to make another splash in the free agent market after signing Mark Melancon to a four-year, $62 million contract, the San Francisco Giants elected for the more conservative and cost-friendly option, opting for Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker to fight for the starting spot in Scottsdale during spring training.
Other than the annual influx of outfielders who signed minor-league contracts during the offseason in hopes of becoming the latest Andrés Torres-esque phenomenon, the front office has not tinkered with the outfield all.
San Francisco’s new marquee closer ate up the entirety of the offseason budget, and now the team will have to make do with its current pool of talent.
Sticking with the status quo isn’t necessarily the dream scenario for the Giants. While Parker and Williamson both have the potential to develop into solid, everyday left fielders for the team, they’re unproven prospects with a combined 366 career plate appearances at the major league level.
Justifiably so, FanGraphs ranks San Francisco 25th in left field depth, as well as 20th in center field depth — far from the preferred marks when constructing a championship contender. But aside from the ensuing Parker/Williamson battle, there is no question regarding who will occupy the other two outfield positions. Who claims the Giants’ backup outfielder spots remains up in the air, but there are clear frontrunners who must lose the spot more than win it.
The San Francisco Giants statistically had one of baseball’s most average outfields last season, hovering around the middle of the pack offensively while thriving with the leather, but what can the league expect from San Francisco’s three-man unit as the team heads into a new season?
For Around the Foghorn’s positional spring training preview, I will analyze the various dynamics and expected output of each outfielder and conclude with a prediction of who is likeliest to crack the Opening Day roster.