Giants free agency: Could Jonathan Schoop be a fit in 2020?
The San Francisco Giants have made it known that they will look to add power to the lineup in 2020. Could Jonathan Schoop be the answer?
While the San Francisco Giants outfield provided surprising pop in 2019 with Mike Yastrzemski and Kevin Pillar both eclipsing 20 home runs, the team’s infielders left a lot to be desired in the power department.
Only Evan Longoria reached the 20-homer among the infield contingent, while Brandon Belt (17), Brandon Crawford (11), and Buster Posey (7) hit a combined 35 in 1,621 plate appearances.
Meanwhile, the trio of Mauricio Dubon, Joe Panik, and Scooter Gennett combined to hit just nine home runs while seeing the bulk of the time at second base.
If the Giants want to add power to the lineup, acquiring a power-hitting second baseman would be a good starting point. Few soon-to-be free agents have more pop than Minnesota Twins second baseman Jonathan Schoop.
Case in point, the Giants do not currently have anyone on the roster who can hit a baseball like this:
At 28 years old, Schoop is youthful relative to most free agents. He debuted with the Baltimore Orioles as a 21-year-old in 2013, so he has already accumulated over six years of service time.
His offensive peak came during the 2017 season when he hit .293/.338/.503 with 35 doubles, 32 home runs, and 105 RBI. His 101 home runs over the past four seasons trail only Brian Dozier (117) and Rougned Odor (111) among second basemen.
After joining the Twins via free agency last offseason, Schoop again provided solid power at a position that is not known for it.
In 464 plate appearances, he hit .256/.304/.473 for a 102 OPS+ with 23 home runs and 59 RBI, en route to 1.6 WAR.
If team president Farhan Zaidi is serious about adding some extra pop to the lineup, Schoop’s agent should be on speed dial once free agency begins.
He also addresses another area of need with his production against left-handed pitching:
- vs. RHP in 2019: 337 PA, .249/.285/.442, 14 HR, 36 RBI
- vs. LHP in 2019: 127 PA, .277/.354/.526, 9 HR, 23 RBI
As a team, the San Francisco Giants posted only a .692 OPS against southpaws in 2019, so there is plenty of room for improvement. Schoop handles right-handed pitching well enough to avoid being placed into a strict platoon, but his splits against left-handed pitchers would give the Giants support in an area of weakness.
There are some red flags, though.
His .304 on-base percentage last year presents a similar issue to what the Giants are contemplating with outfielder Kevin Pillar. That is, Schoop does not get on-base at a high rate, and that limits his overall offensive value.
In 2019, he recorded a meager 4.3 percent walk rate against a 25 percent strikeout rate. His low walk rate is compounded by the fact that he strikes out a little too frequently for comfort.
That is one of the reasons the Milwaukee Brewers decided to non-tender Schoop at the end of the 2018 season after acquiring him at the trade deadline.
From an offensive standpoint, he is not a perfect fit. However, if Zaidi is going to prioritize power this offseason, then maybe he can overlook those on-base deficiencies.
With the glove, Schoop has proven to be a quality second baseman throughout his career. In 761 career games across seven seasons at second base, Schoop has posted 10 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS).
However, he does not have much experience outside of second base, playing in just 39 combined games at shortstop and third base. That would seem to indicate that he does not possess the type of versatility on defense that Zaidi generall prefers.
Every front office in baseball sees these same red flags, and while there should be plenty of interested suitors, there is a low ceiling for how far teams will be willing to go in negotiations for the power-hitting second baseman.
Chances are he will not receive a contact beyond two years, so signing him would carry limited risk. Similarly, the $7.5 million salary he received in 2019 should be in the neighborhood of his market rate in free agency.
My assumption is that the San Francisco Giants will not be big spenders in free agency this offseason, despite having plenty of payroll space. As a result, Schoop could be a fit for the Giants on a short-term contract, giving the team the power it desires with minimal risk.