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San Francisco Giants: Why Didn’t Steven Duggar Make the Roster?

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 20: Steven Duggar #78 of the San Francisco Giants poses for a portrait during a MLB photo day at Scottsdale Stadium on February 20, 2017 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
SCOTTSDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 20: Steven Duggar #78 of the San Francisco Giants poses for a portrait during a MLB photo day at Scottsdale Stadium on February 20, 2017 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) /
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As the excitement for the upcoming season built, Opening Day rosters were finally revealed. The San Francisco Giants themselves certainly had a couple of surprise players make the roster, perhaps due to the myriad injuries to both the bullpen and starting rotation.

However, one dynamic prospect who outperformed expectations, played a position of need, and fit the player profile necessary had Giants fans buzzing. Yet he didn’t make the team.

That player was CF Steven Duggar, who the Giants optioned in favor of veterans Gregor Blanco and Gorkys Hernandez.

Why?

Dugger clearly has the highest ceiling of the three. The two veterans have both been roughly replacement level bench fodder for the past two seasons, so would they really move the needle more than an exciting rookie would?

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For reference, he had an OPS over .800 and displayed stellar speed and defense. He was basically a better hitter than Gorkys and a better defender than both Hernandez and Blanco this past spring (yeah, yeah, small sample size, I get it).

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Well, it’s complicated. I’m not saying the Giants made the right call, but they had their reasons – which I figure are primarily based off Duggar’s service time and role on the major league club.

Service time manipulation is a convoluted practice, but essentially if the club manages to keep Duggar in the minors long enough, they gain an extra year of team control than if they just promoted him to the majors to start the season.

It seems likely given we’ll see him at some point this season, perhaps sooner rather than later, but the Giants must believe the dynamic potential he would bring the club out of the gate is not worth losing him a year earlier than they would have to. I’m not sure if I agree with that reasoning, given how dire the team’s current straits in their “all in” season.

They may also believe his long-term potential is better served playing everyday in Sacramento than in a likely timeshare at the majors with Austin Jackson.

This is a bit confusing though, because it seemed like Giants brass wanted nothing more than for Jackson to be the fourth outfielder on the club and have a prospect like Duggar seize the everyday role.

Therefore, it would make sense they either believe that Duggar simply wasn’t ready for full-time duty or that A-Jax is better suited in a full-time role rather than the depth role they indicated he would be up for when they signed him.

So those are the two main reasons I can think of to justify keeping Duggar in the minors.

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It gets murkier though.

For instance, is keeping Duggar down really worth paying Blanco $1.5MM and creeping ever-closer to the luxury tax threshold the team has been dancing around?

Can the Giants truly afford to go into the season without the most talent possible in their roster?

Do we actually need to see more of Gorkys Hernandez?

All of these questions, and more, will just be answered in due time as Opening Day is afoot!

That said, here’s to hoping Duggar dominates AAA (where he hasn’t really had that many at bats to be honest) and forces the Giants’ hand at some point.

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