Austin Slater appeared to be playing his way into a long-term role with the San Francisco Giants before a disastrous final month. Where does he stand going into 2020?
The San Francisco Giants will have some interesting decisions to make for the final few spots on the roster this spring, regardless of what they do in free agency and on the trade market.
Now it’s time for a closer look at Austin Slater.
Earlier this week, I put together a way-too-early prediction for the 2020 Opening Day roster and Slater was included, thanks in large part to the fact that rosters will be expanding from 25 to 26, with a limit of 13 pitchers.
Here’s what I wrote about Slater:
“Slater was quietly having a terrific season before a brutal final month cratered his stats. The 26-year-old hit .281/.396/.529 with 17 extra-base hits in 144 plate appearances in July and August, before going 6-for-47 (.128 BA) with 19 strikeouts in 48 plate appearances in September. He checks the versatile box and has some offensive upside, so he’ll be given every chance.”
Before joining the MLB roster at midseason, he also raked to the tune of a .308/.436/.529 with 17 doubles and 12 home runs in 296 plate appearances with Triple-A Sacramento.
In other words, he has little left to prove at the minor league level.
An equally important takeaway from his time in the minors this year was the added versatility he showed on the defensive side of things. He saw time at first base (38), second base (7), third base (11), left field (8), center field (3) and right field (6) during his time in the minors, and that flexibility is something Farhan Zaidi has been known to place a premium on.
There will be no shortage of players vying for the final few spots on the bench, so his spring training performance could ultimately determine whether he breaks camp with a roster spot or heads back to Triple-A to wait in the wings.
Expect the San Francisco Giants to give him every chance to prove his ugly September was a fluke, and that his production leading up to that final month is instead what he’s capable of going forward. Here’s hoping that’s the case.