A familiar face recently hit the open market when former San Francisco Giants third baseman Matt Duffy was designated for assignment. Is a reunion in order?
The deadline for teams to set their 40-man rosters and protect players from this year’s Rule 5 draft was Wednesday, and while the San Francisco Giants decided against protecting anyone, there are some intriguing new names they could now pursue in free agency.
As teams look to clear space on the roster for prospects who need to be added, fringe veterans are often designated for assignment.
With a wealth of prospect talent in their system, the Tampa Bay Rays had five players to add to the 40-man roster at the deadline, and that meant cutting ties with a player Giants fans know well:
Duffy, 28, began his carer in the Giants organization after he was selected in the 18th round of the 2012 MLB draft.
After debuting down the stretch in 2014 and earning a spot on the postseason roster, he took over as the team’s everyday third baseman in 2015 after Pablo Sandoval departed in free agency and trade pickup Casey McGehee flopped.
He wound up hitting .295/.334/.428 with 28 doubles, 12 home runs and 77 RBI in a 4.7 WAR season to finish as runner-up to Kris Bryant in NL Rookie of the Year voting.
The following season, he was traded to the Rays at the deadline along with prospects Lucius Fox and Michael Santos, in exchange for starting pitcher Matt Moore.
Unfortunately, injuries have taken a toll.
Duffy missed the entire 2017 season with an Achilles injury, and he also dealt with foot and hamstring issues, all adding up to just 199 games played in three and a half seasons in Tampa Bay.
He hit .284/.351/.357 for a 97 OPS+ and 2.6 WAR when he was healthy enough to take the field, spending time at shortstop and third base, and he still offers some interesting upside if he can prove healthy.
In order for a reunion to make sense for the Giants, Duffy would have to be willing to accept a minor league deal, and perhaps a trip to Triple-A if he doesn’t play his way onto the roster during spring training.
That said, as ATF contributor Jeff Young pointed out when we were discussing the idea of this article, bringing back a fan favorite in some capacity would represent a nice goodwill gesture by the front office on the heels of the poorly received Gabe Kapler hire.
It’s at least worth considering as the San Francisco Giants continue to look for low-cost ways to add depth to the roster.