With the World Series underway, all eyes are on the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros. One Nationals infielder who is set to become a free agent could fit in nicely on the 2020 San Francisco Giants.
As a team, the Giants did not get much offensive production from their infield contingent in 2019.
Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt, and Buster Posey all posted an OPS+ below 100, indicating that they were all below-average hitters. In the case of Posey (84 OPS+) and Crawford (75 OPS+), they were both significantly below-average.
Meanwhile, third baseman Evan Longoria recorded a 102 OPS+, which means that his offensive production was a hair above-average.
Mauricio Dubon posted a 99 OPS+ in 109 plate appearances, which is solid production at second base. However, the Giants did not get much offensive production from the position overall, as they cycled through both Joe Panik and Scooter Gennett before arriving at Dubon.
If the Giants were a 1960’s grocery store, they would have hung up a “Help Wanted” sign by now for 2020. They are not, but we can still speculate that they will try to improve a major area of weakness from their 2019 team.
The aforementioned Cabrera is currently playing in the World Series, but he is set to become a free agent once the season is over. He will have a stout market, and the Giants should be among the interested teams.
Adding a player like Cabrera is not necessarily a win-now move, but rather one that would raise the infield benchmark in 2020.
The Giants will look to improve the offense in 2020, and Cabrera brings plenty of offensive upside to the table.
In 514 plate appearances in 2019, Cabrera posted a .260/.342/.441 line with 18 home runs and 91 RBI. That included a robust 11.1 percent walk rate against a manageable 20.0 percent strikeout rate.
As a team, the San Francisco Giants posted a .302 on-base percentage in 2019. Only the Miami Marlins (.298) had a lower on-base percentage among NL teams.
Improving the team’s on-base percentage should be a cost-effective way to improve the offense as a whole, and Cabrera would help in achieving that end.
In addition, the 33-year-old is a switch-hitter without extreme platoon splits. Over the course of his career, Cabrera has posted a .754 OPS against right-handed pitchers compared to a .760 OPS while facing southpaws.
Given that steady level of production, adding the switch-hitter’s name to the lineup would be an easy task for the future San Francisco Giants manager.
If the Giants are facing a tough right-handed pitcher, they could give Longoria a day off and shift Cabrera to third base. Or, if they are facing a good lefty, then Dubon can shift to shortstop and Cabrera could fill in at second base.
On the defensive side, the versatile infielder has substantial experience at shortstop, second base, and third base. His playing time at shortstop has dwindled in recent years, but he has been picking up time at first base lately, so he would add some needed competition there as well. In essence, Cabrera has the type of versatility that team president Farhan Zaidi covets
Incumbent utility infielder Donovan Solano checks this box off as well. He had a very nice season in 2019, batting .330 in 228 plate appearances while splitting his time between second base and shortstop.
Despite that, the Giants should still look at ways to bolster their infield depth in case Solano cannot replicate his 2019 success, Crawford continues to regress, or Dubon runs into a sophomore slump.
Asdrubal Cabrera possesses the track record and versatility to allow the San Francisco Giants to keep their options open. He should have a robust market given the value that versatile players tend to have in free agency, but the Giants will have plenty of financial resources to improve their roster and adding a player of his caliber is a good starting point.