4. No Joey Bart for now and probably for the season
It wasn’t a shock to see Joey Bart missing from the Opening Day roster. Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic perfectly illustrated the many reasons the Giants would have been taking a big economic risk if they’d done so. At the same time, the ethics of service-time manipulation remain one of the biggest debates surrounding MLB front-offices.
Bart’s performance at Double-A and the Arizona Fall League last year left fans excited just to see what Bart could do in big-league camp. When he hit .438/.526/.875 with a pair of homes in 19 plate appearances before the season was suspended, it helped his status grow even more. Of course, when Buster Posey announced he would not play this season fans began clamoring for Bart.
There are some good reasons (aside from service time) for the Giants to hold off promoting Bart. The most concerning comp for Bart has always been Mike Zunino. If you don’t believe me, go look at Zunino’s college, minor league, and AFL performances alongside the scouting reports. Zunino looked like the star Giants fans hope Bart becomes, but the Mariners rushed him to Triple-A after a limited sample of success at Double-A and in the AFL. His strikeout rates had begun to inflate at the AFL and have since dogged him his entire career.
Bart obviously is a different prospect than Zunino and he’s thus far done a better job managing strikeouts as he’s faced tougher competition, but we’re still trying to predict a big-league career from less than 200 official at-bats at Double, the AFL, and big-league camp. One bad habit can undo an entire professional career and allowing Bart to face AAA to big-league competition in Sacramento without the pressure of filling Posey’s legendary shoes in a season unlikely to yield much other excitement is a good way to ensure he’s ready.
It’s plausible, as Baggarly writes, that the Giants will give Bart an opportunity a bit later in the season when the service-time costs are smaller and they ensure the season will indeed finish. However, the Giants would be losing opportunities to find what they have in Tyler Heineman, Rob Brantly, and especially Chadwick Tromp (who likely will join the 30-man roster once he recovers from a minor injury). None are particularly flashy options, but if the Giants can find one legitimate big-league catcher, they would acquire a fantastic depth piece to trade when Bart is ready and Posey returns to a league dearth of catching options.