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San Francisco Giants: Potential free-agent targets to improve infield depth

Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
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DETROIT, MI – AUGUST 22: Ben Zobrist #18 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates after scoring against the Detroit Tigers during the sixth inning at Comerica Park on August 22, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. The Cubs defeated the Tigers 8-2. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI – AUGUST 22: Ben Zobrist #18 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates after scoring against the Detroit Tigers during the sixth inning at Comerica Park on August 22, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. The Cubs defeated the Tigers 8-2. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

Ben Zobrist

Long ago, Ben Zobrist was invented in a laboratory for versatile, switch-hitting players by San Francisco Giants team president Farhan Zaidi. Zaidi is known to seek out versatility, and Zobrist is the poster child for the type of player he wants.

The switch-hitting, utility infielder just completed a four-year contract with the Chicago Cubs that paid him $56 million, minus the amount of time he spent on the restricted list this past season.

In 176 plate appearances, Zobrist recorded a .260/.358/.313 line with only one home run. The lack of power leaves a lot to be desired, but he also posted a 13.1 percent walk rate against a 13.6 percent strikeout rate, so he still controls the strike zone.

The numbers on the surface do not seem great, but he did finish the season on a positive note. After the 38-year-old returned from the restricted list, he batted .284 with a .765 OPS in 77 plate appearances.

How he finished the 2019 season is more in-line with what to expect from Zobrist. He may not hit for much power anymore, but he is a difficult out and knows how to get on base.

His .358 on-base percentage would be two basis points behind Donovan Solano for the Giants team lead in on-base percentage with a minimum of 100 plate appearances. The San Francisco Giants, as a team, only recorded a .302 on-base percentage in 2019, which ranked 14th out of 15 teams in the National League. This is a clear area of need.

Like Kendrick and Holt, Zobrist is about as versatile as a player can be. He has significant experience in the infield and outfield, and given that he is a switch-hitter, managers do not have to think too hard about how to get his name into the lineup.

For Zobrist, the question will be whether he wants to continue his playing career. At 38 years old, he has accomplished a lot, including earning three All-Star nods to go along with two World Series titles.

Adding a player like Zobrist, Holt, or Kendrick is not necessarily a win-now move, but rather is about improving the roster. These players would give the Giants plenty of flexibility, as they would improve the middle infield depth, and would give the team additional coverage in the outfield.

Next. Where did Posey, Vogt rank among MLB catchers?

None of the three would require a substantial financial commitment, but all three would give the San Francisco Giants flexibility. The goal for Zaidi is to continue making smart baseball moves, and adding any of these three would achieve that end.

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