SF Giants: Most Random Player of the 2020 Season

Justin Smoak #46 of the SF Giants bats against the Seattle Mariners in the top of the six inning at Oracle Park on September 17, 2020. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Justin Smoak #46 of the SF Giants bats against the Seattle Mariners in the top of the six inning at Oracle Park on September 17, 2020. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

SF Giants team president Farhan Zaidi aggressively churned over the roster in 2020 season. That led to some forgettably short-tenured players.

The SF Giants routinely turned over the final few spots on their 40-man roster during the 2020 season, making minor moves left and right in the process.

Many of the players that Farhan Zaidi added were recognizable names, but given the rate at which the moves were made, it was easy to forget a name or two along the way who the team tried to pass through waivers.

This process is nothing new.

It seems like every year when the season comes to a close, there are always one or two players that leave me scratching my head and thinking: “Oh yeah, he did play in the Giants organization that year.”

For example, who remembers when Dontrelle Willis tried to resurrect his career with the San Francisco Giants back in 2010? And then again in 2014?

Well, he did. He pitched 7.1 innings between two minor league affiliates in 2010 and then threw 0.2 innings with Triple-A Sacramento in 2014.

Need more examples? Remember when Kyle Drabek tried to become a hitter with the Giants back in 2016? Or when Jordan Schafer attempted to turn himself into a pitcher in 2018? Both players attempted those transitions, and both did it as members of the Giants organization.

The Giants were not quite as aggressive in the transaction log in 2020 as they were in 2019, but there is one name that comes to mind as being a totally random part of the 2020 season – Justin Smoak.

Smoak has strung together a long and distinguished career, including 196 home runs and 570 RBI.

He was originally drafted in the first round of the 2008 draft by the Texas Rangers, but he really made a name for himself with the Toronto Blue Jays.

The switch-hitter has appeared in 11 major league seasons with five of the years as a Blue Jay serving as a middle-of-the-order threat.

In 2017, the 33-year-old slashed a .270/.355/.529 line (131 OPS+) with 38 home runs and 90 RBI while earning an American League All-Star nod.

However, his career has been on the downhill ever since. Smoak became a free agent after a down year in 2019 but latched on with the Milwaukee Brewers on a one-year, $5 million pact.

His time with Milwaukee was mostly forgettable. Across 126 plate appearances, he slashed a .186/.262/.361 line (70 OPS+) with five home runs and 15 RBI while being worth -0.7 WAR. At this point, the Brewers decided to designate the switch-hitter for assignment thereby making him a free agent.

San Francisco took a flyer on Smoak, but it came at a cost. To add him to the 40-man roster, the Giants placed fan-favorite Pablo Sandoval on waivers.

You would think with how much fan equity went into this move, that the risk of releasing a popular player in favor of Smoak would be worth the gamble. However, that gamble paid off about as well as any time I have gambled in Las Vegas.

The 33-year-old received six plate appearances but did not register a hit. After these at-bats, the Giants decided that they had seen enough and put the first baseman back on waivers.

Related Story. SF Giants: Former Pitching Prospect Hits free Agency

While Zaidi’s constant churning of the roster does tend to pay dividends, it also brings up situations like Justin Smoak playing in a Giants uniform. It was such a brief moment that I bet we will forget about it in a couple of years.