SF Giants: Rumored Outfield Targets Sign Elsewhere
By Jeff Young
The SF Giants had been recently connected to left-handed-hitting outfielders Joc Pederson and Eddie Rosario, but neither one will be wearing the Orange and Black to start next season.
On Friday, Pederson (one-year, $7 million contract) and Rosario (one-year, $8 million contract) signed with the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians, respectively. That said, the SF Giants will continue to look for an outfield bat.
Given that the Giants posted a .764 OPS against right-handed pitcher last season, there was room for improvement and adding a left-handed bat made sense. Earlier this week, they addressed that need by signing infielder Tommy La Stella but wanted to make one more impactful addition from the left side.
Interestingly, the Cubs get a player in Pederson who shares a similar skill set as Kyle Schwarber. That said, they saved about $3 million as Schwarber was likely to command in the neighborhood of $10 million through arbitration.
Pederson struggled to the tune of a .681 OPS with seven home runs and 16 RBI across 138 plate appearances while being worth -0.3 WAR. This was not the last impression the left-handed bat wanted to make before hitting free agency, but he has strung together solid numbers throughout his career.
In seven seasons, he has slashed .230/.336/.470 (116 OPS+) with 130 home runs and 303 RBI. This includes a strong .849 OPS against righties in 2,132 plate appearances. San Francisco likely sees Pederson as a platoon player with splits that they could leverage, but it does seem likely that the Cubs were more appealing because he would get a chance to play every day.
On the other hand, Rosario joins a Cleveland team that desperately needs offense from the outfield. Cleveland’s outfielders combined to post a .575 OPS with 11 home runs and 62 RBI in 2020. By himself, Rosario registered a .257/.316/.476 line (115 OPS+) with 13 home runs and 42 RBI in 231 plate appearances. It is not an understatement that he represents a significant addition to the outfield mix.
Unlike Pederson, Rosario has shown less extreme splits (.818 OPS against RHP, .710 OPS against LHP) that the Giants felt that they could leverage. Rosario probably feels that he will get plenty of playing time with Cleveland, whereas his role would most likely be as a platoon player with the Giants.
The Giants appear to be leaning more heavily on platoon matchups as the new front office continues to rework the roster. There is going to be a section of the market that is going to be turned off by this approach. In the case of both players, they likely felt that there was more playing time with the teams they signed with compared to the Giants.
With that being said, the SF Giants seem to be committed to adding one more notable bat before Spring Training begins. Jackie Bradley Jr., Nomar Mazara, and Tyler Naquin are a few names remaining on the market who make some sense for San Francisco as they look to get the team ready for 2021.