SF Giants: Yasiel Puig would break up outfield logjam

Yasiel Puig would fit into the SF Giants' outfield fine. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Yasiel Puig would fit into the SF Giants' outfield fine. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

With the report on Sunday that outfielder Yasiel Puig may be signing with the San Francisco Giants, whenever such a thing is allowed, the question arises: Just where do you put him?

The report on Puig, who left Cuba and spent the first six years of his MLB career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, comes from reporter Francis Romero. However, to tap the brakes just a bit, Henry Schulman of the SF Chronicle tweeted that two sources have warned him this story isn’t a done deal.

If Puig does sign, however, he’ll join an outfield currently projected to comprise CF Billy Hamilton, RF Mike Yastrzemski, and LF Alex Dickerson. Those projections come from the Roster Resource depth charts at FanGraphs.

Hunter Pence and utilityman Austin Slater are projected to be on the bench.

These aren’t gospel, of course. Hamilton was a non-roster invitee to spring training. He didn’t exactly grab the spot with both hands, hitting for a  .238 average with .273 on-base percentage and .381 slugging in 22 plate appearances. He struck out seven times and walked once.

Still, that’s a starting point when thinking about this — a point that helps explain the Giants’ rumored interest.

Puig has been going backward during the past few years of his career. A free agent last year, he spent time with both the Indians and the Reds. It didn’t go well: He batted .267 / .327 /.458 for .785 OPS (100 OPS+) and didn’t field real great either. Still it worked out to being a little more than a win above replacement.

With the Dodgers, things were different: He hit .279/.353/.478  for .831 OPS (127 OPS+). He was worth 17.6 WAR during that time, nearly three wins above replacement per year.  His time was up and down though, as high as 5.5 and as low as 1.

The idea that Puig could get back on track, rebuild value, and be a trade chip might be an intriguing one for Giants director of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi.

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The SF Giants’ outfield in 2020

San Francisco doesn’t exactly have an outfield so full of talent there’s no rumor to roll the dice.

Look at the FanGraphs’ depth chart projections:

  • Yastrzemski (LH) — .244 / .315 / .428, slightly above average fielder, 0.7 WAR.
  • Dickerson (LH) — .265 / .328 / .433, below-average baserunner and fielder, 0.6 WAR.
  • Pence (RH) — .252 / .304 / .408, below-average fielder, 0 WAR.
  • Slater (RH) — .251 / .336 / .392, 0 WAR.
  • Hamilton (S) — .231 / .294 / .311, slightly above-average running and fielding, 0.1 WAR.
  • Steven Duggar — .243 / .309 / .363, 0 WAR

Now look at Puig, a right-handed batter: .265 / .330 / .471, 1.2 WAR.

You could see the Giants starting him in right field, with the left-handed hitter Yastrzemski in center and fellow left-handed hitter Dickerson in left. The popular Pence would likely still come off the bench, with Hamilton being left off the roster.

So, setting aside the idea that Puig may not always have been the best teammate in Los Angeles, it makes some level of sense for the Giants in 2020.