Veteran outfielder Joey Rickard is eligible for arbitration for the second time in his career, but what are the odds that the SF Giants tender him a contract?
The SF Giants must decide whether to tender contracts to 11 arbitration-eligible players before the December 2, 2020 deadline. After an injury-plagued campaign in 2020, Giants fans may have seen the last of Rickard in the Orange and Black.
Joey Rickard Before 2020
Though it is not the highest of bars, Rickard might already be one of the more productive Rule 5 draftees in baseball history after being selected by the Baltimore Orioles in 2015.
He spent over three seasons with the Orioles before being placed on waivers. At that time, the 29-year-old slashed a .245/.299/.372 line (81 OPS+) with 19 home runs and 86 RBI across 924 plate appearances.
While he does not put up the numbers to be a full-time starter in baseball, Rickard has proven he can handle a platoon role. Throughout his career, he has posted a .276/.336/.422 with 10 of his 19 career home runs against left-handed hurlers.
The Giants placed a claim on Rickard in 2019 and he finished the year on the major league roster. He made 54 plate appearances down the stretch and generated a .713 OPS while proving that he can handle either corner outfield spot.
After his brief showing, Rickard may have had a shot to carve out a role in 2020 given that he is competent with the glove and could handle a platoon role. This led the Giants to non-tender the outfielder, but they then brought him back on a minor-league pact with a camp invite.
Joey Rickard with the SF Giants in 2020
Despite not making the club out of camp, Rickard did continue to impress at the alternate training site in Sacramento:
The right-hander earned a promotion to the Giants roster in August where he went hitless in five at-bats while collecting a walk. He finished the season on the injured list after experiencing elbow inflammation.
Should the SF Giants Tender a Contract for Joey Rickard in 2021?
One of the bigger surprises in the 2020 season was how well the Giants hit against left-handed pitching. They posted an .838 OPS as a team against southpaws as they built their roster to better take advantage of platoon matchups. This development makes it hard to picture Rickard being on the Giants in 2021.
Furthermore, the Giants outfield is beginning to stabilize with familiar names, so it is going to be even harder for a player like Rickard to carve out a meaningful role. That said, the Giants will almost certainly not tender Rickard a contract for next season, but they could re-sign him on a minor league deal so we can do this exercise against next offseason.