If the Arizona Diamondbacks decide to part ways with outfielder Steven Souza Jr., could he be a fit for the Giants in 2020?
MLB teams have until Dec. 2 to offer a contract to arbitration-eligible players. Ahead of that deadline, we here at Around the Foghorn have been 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
Let’s take a closer look on how he could fit onto the Giants roster.
Non-tender Candidate: OF Steven Souza Jr.
Need he fills: Corner outfielder
Steven Souza Jr.’s 2019 season never got off the ground after he suffered a gruesome leg injury at the end of spring training. The right-handed hitter required surgery to repair an ACL tear, LCL tear, and partial PCL tear. After two injury-marred seasons, the D-backs might be ready to turn the page.
On a positive note, Souza appears to be on the road to recovery as he resumed baseball activities this past September:
However, due to the severity of his injury, there are no assurances that he can fully return to form. Early in his career, the now 30-year-old showed solid power to go along with continually improving plate discipline.
Souza became a trade target of the Arizona Diamondback following a 2017 season in which he homered 30 times and was worth 4.1 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) according to Baseball Reference.
However, Souza has only accumulated 272 plate appearances since the trade, and the Diamondbacks already have Ketel Marte and David Peralta entrenched in two of the three outfield spots heading into next season. As a result, he appears to be on the roster bubble.
To be honest, Souza does not have much of a track record of high-level performer outside of his 2017 campaign. In five seasons, the outfielder has posted a .233/.323/.417 (101 OPS+) line, so he is just a tad above league average as a hitter, which is still a good benchmark.
With that being said, he does carry some qualities that may appeal to the Giants.
He has decent plate discipline as evidenced by his 10.6 percent career walk rate, but this is paired with an extremely high 31.2 percent strikeout rate. As the Giants look at ways to improve their offense, adding a player who strikes out in nearly one-third of his plate appearances is tough to digest.
Despite the high whiff rate, the tool that Souza brings to the table is power. Giants team president Farhan Zaidi has stated that he wants to improve the offense by adding more power, and recruiting a player like Souza Jr. helps in achieving that end.
From 2015-2017, Souza Jr. averaged 21 home runs per season. For reference, Mike Yastrzemski and Kevin Pillar co-led the San Francisco Giants in the home run department with 21 apiece in 2019.
Given that he was capable of reaching the 30-homer plateau in 2017, the outfielder has decent power potential as a buy-low option.
With the glove, Souza has posted strong marks as a corner outfielder. Throughout his career, the 30-year-old has recorded a combined six Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) while splitting time in both left field and right field. Plus, he is capable of making plays like this:
Though, after missing all of the 2019 season, it is fair to question if his defensive skills have eroded due to injury.
As has been previously mentioned, Souza may not have the durability and health to complete an entire season. The San Francisco Giants have a similar issue with Alex Dickerson.
However, Dickerson and Souza could create a formidable platoon relationship in left field. Such an approach would allow the Giants to better manage each player’s workload.
As a right-handed bat, Souza Jr. does not have extreme platoon splits, but he has posted a respectable .759 career OPS against southpaws. On the other hand, Dickerson has splits that are a little more extreme and more favorable against right-handed pitchers. Throughout his career, Dickerson has generated a .827 OPS with the platoon advantage.
Souza would quickly become a shrewd investment, if he is able to relive any of the success he had in 2017. As the Giants begin a period of roster transition, they could benefit by taking a gamble on a player like Souza.
If the Diamondbacks decide to part ways with him, the outfielder would check off several boxes for the Giants without requiring a long-term commitment. In that sense, the risk may be worth the reward for a team in transition.