If the Oakland Athletics decide to non-tender Robbie Grossman, he could be a fit for the San Francisco Giants in 2020.
MLB teams will have until Dec. 2 to offer a contract to arbitration-eligible players. Ahead of that deadline, we here at Around the Foghorn will be looking at a handful of non-tender candidates who could be a fit for the San Francisco Giants if they do hit the open market.
First up, we need to identify the team’s areas of need this offseason.
In a perfect world, the front office would add the following to the roster before Opening Day arrives:
- Multiple starting pitchers
- Multiple relief pitchers
- Corner outfielder
- Middle infield depth
- Backup catcher
The Oakland Athletics have plenty of outfield options heading into 2020.
That glut of outfield options could put Robbie Grossman on the roster bubble prior to the aforementioned Dec. 2 deadline to tender arbitration-eligible players a contract.
Let’s take a closer look at him as a potential San Francisco Giants target.
Non-Tender Candidate: OF Robbie Grossman
Need he fills: Corner outfielder
Robbie Grossman came to the Oakland Athletics as a free agent after being non-tendered by the Minnesota Twins following the 2018 season. The switch-hitter continued to show a knack for getting on base as he recorded a .334 on-base percentage across 482 plate appearances. However, he only sent six baseballs over the fence, so the Athletics may non-tender him to pursue a corner outfielder with more power.
Grossman would not be a perfect fit for the Giants, but he checks a few boxes.
The notable box he does not check: Power.
San Francisco Giants team president Farhan Zaidi stated that he would look to improve the offense by adding power to the lineup. Unfortunately, power is not part of Grossman’s skill set.
What he does offer is some offensive versatility as a switch-hitter, and hits especially well against left-handed pitchers with a .764 OPS in 703 plate appearances against southpaws during his career. As a team, the San Francisco Giants posted a meager .692 OPS against left-handed pitching in 2019, so there is plenty of room for improvement.
Zaidi is known for targeting hitters with a patient approach, and that is exactly what Grossman brings to the table. Despite having limited power, the 30-year-old gives you a gritty at-bat and he has exceptional on-base skills. Throughout his career, Grossman has produced a stout 12.7 percent walk rate against a 20.9 percent strikeout rate.
He carries the uncommon quality of being able to coax a walk while maintaining a manageable strikeout rate. As a team, the Giants generated a .302 on-base percentage in 2019, and targeting players such as Grossman who can get on base at a high rate should be part of their strategy for improving offensively.
On defense, Grossman had regressed considerably in recent years as a corner outfielder. One of the reasons that the Minnesota Twins decided to non-tender him following the 2018 season was that he graded out as a below-average outfielder.
The table below shows his Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) metric in the outfield from 2014-2018:
Clearly, there had been a decline in his abilities with the glove for several years, at least according to DRS.
However, either he took it upon himself to improve in this area, or the Athletics put him in a better position to succeed with the glove because in 2019 there was this:
Grossman ended up losing out to Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon for the award, but being recognized shows that he can still be a quality defensive option as a corner outfielder. With the expansive outfield grass of Oracle Park, the Giants cannot overlook the importance of outfield defense when adding to the roster.
In 2019, Grossman showed improvement with the glove, but the bat took a step back. In 482 plate appearances, he generated a .240/.334/.348 line for a 86 OPS+. That OPS+ suggests that he was 14 percent worse than the league average hitter, which is not a great sign.
However, for his career, Grossman has posted a 99 OPS+, so he is pretty much the definition of a league-average hitter, which remains a solid benchmark.
His .334 on-base percentage in 2019 was only 17 basis points below his career mark of .351, so he still excelled in his ability to get on base. He has never hit for much power, and the .348 slugging percentage was low, but not surprising either.
With all of that being said, the Athletics could look to non-tender Grossman as he is projected to earn $3.3 million through arbitration. That is not an exorbitant contract by any means, but the cost-conscious Athletics may feel that they can get better value elsewhere.
These circumstances could put Grossman on the bubble, and the Athletics will have a decision to make before the Dec. 2 deadline.
If they decide against tendering him a contract, then he becomes a free agent. As a low-cost corner outfielder with solid plate discipline, he could provide nice value to a San Francisco Giants team that struggled to get on base in 2019.