The SF Giants signed free-agent corner infielder Jason Vosler to a minor-league contract on Tuesday, per the team. He is one of the most intriguing young bats available.
On Tuesday, the SF Giants made their first free-agent signing of the offseason. Per the team’s official Twitter account, the Giants inked 27-year old corner infielder Jason Vosler to a major-league contract and added him to their 40-man roster. The team still has two remaining spots open.
Vosler was not ranked among the 15 minor-league free agents best positioned to help the Giants in 2021 because of his lack of MLB experience. However, he was going to rank as the best available free-agent in a separate top minor-league free agent prospects piece that was scheduled to be released shortly.
While Vosler signed a big-league contract, he has actually never previously played at the MLB level. Granted, he has spent his entire career between the Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres organizations. A primary third baseman with the ability to play first, it was always going to be hard to find playing time with Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo in Chicago and wasn’t much easier with Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer in San Diego.
A left-handed-hitting primary third baseman, Vosler hypothetically addresses one of the Giants most obvious roster holes. Prior to the move, third base was the only position without a clear platoon option in San Francisco. While Evan Longoria remains entrenched as the starter at the hot corner, Vosler should be able to spell him occasionally against righties.
A 16th round selection by the Cubs in 2014, Vosler got off to a quiet start as a professional. However, since a swing adjustment prior to the 2017 season, his performance has taken off. In his three seasons since, splitting his time between Double-A and Triple-A, Vosler has hit at least 20 homers a year and batted .259/.345/.470. With the Padres Triple-A affiliate in 2019, Vosler hit .291/.367/.532. He was particularly lethal against right-handed pitchers, batting .300/.371/.563, and blasting 19 of his 20 home runs.
Those strong platoon splits have been present for some time. That likely limits his upside but gives him a particular value for the Giants. Here are his triple-slash lines against left-handed and right-handed pitchers over the last three minor-league seasons:
Power remains his carrying tool and his performance suggests his hit-tool probably is capped around league-average. He’s similarly unimpressive on the defensive side of the ball where he has enough arm to handle third base and can make all the standard plays, but will not stand out.
Vosler was a shortstop during his collegiate career at Northeastern. While he’s not a strong enough athlete to handle the keystone, he has spent some time at second base and can play a solid first as well. First base seems particularly clogged right now, but if the Giants did find a trade partner for Brandon Belt, Vosler could serve as a rotational piece with Wilmer Flores there as well. Admittedly, that scenario seems unlikely.
Giants general manager Scott Harris was a part of the Chicago Cubs front-office during his ascent through the minors and clearly was a fan of his potential. 27 is obviously on the older side for a prospect, but the canceled minor-league season in 2020 did not make things any easier for him. Even if he did not make his MLB debut, the Padres thought he was good enough to include in the team’s work at the alternate site.
The SF Giants have handed out their first big-league contract of the offseason to a player who’s never officially played in an MLB game. Jason Vosler was easily one of the best young minor-league free agents available this offseason. Currently, he would have an uphill fight to make the Opening Day roster but should have a shot in Spring Training.