Could the SF Giants find a substantial big-league contributor in 2021 from one of the hundreds of minor-league free agents?
Few franchises have had such consistent success finding MLB contributors through minor-league free agency as the SF Giants. While the franchise has had three top decision-makers over the past decade, Brian Sabean, Bobby Evans, and Farhan Zaidi’s regimes have all found players that made an impact after signing minor-league contracts. Andres Torres, Alen Hanson, Donovan Solano, and Darin Ruf are just a few of the contributors that were brought in on minor-league pacts.
While most fans are obviously thinking about which big-time free agents could be on the Giants wish-list, over 420 players on minor-league contracts in 2020 are now available too. Given Zaidi’s success on the margins of the roster, it could be one of those less-heralded names that make the biggest contributions next season.
Check out the 15 players best positioned to help San Francisco in 2021.
Infielders: Matt Duffy, Arismendy Alcantara
Former Giants fan-favorite Matt Duffy is available after injuries have stalled a once-promising young career. He’ll be 30 in January and hasn’t replicated his success in San Francisco since he was packaged in the Matt Moore trade, but Duffy is a competent hitter and really good defensive third baseman and shortstop. He could be an obvious upgrade over Daniel Robertson as a righthanded backup for Brandon Crawford.
Arismendy Alcantara was once a top prospect in the Chicago Cubs system that never found consistent success at the plate. Still, he has good speed (21 steals at Triple-A in 2019), no clear platoon splits, a great defensive profile (with big-league experience at every position but first base and catcher), and a strong minor-league hitting track-record. He could end up a strong swiss-army knife at the big-league level with another opportunity.
Top Target/Best Fit: Ronny Rodriguez
While Alcantara and Duffy both have a strong defensive profile, Ronny Rodriguez has played around the diamond as well but has big-time power. In 500 MLB plate appearances with the Tigers from 2018-19, Rodriguez blasted 19 home runs, slugged .455 against lefties, and only struck out in 25% of his plate appearances. His plate discipline is atrocious and he’s not going to generate a lot of line drives, but if the Giants consider him passable at shortstop and in the outfield, he’d be a great platoon option against southpaws.