Who will be the SF Giants first baseman in 2022?
1. Internal options
With Brandon Belt currently dealing with recovery from COVID-19, mono, and a heel injury (can’t the injury gods give Belt a break for once?) the Giants may have to start the 2021 season with someone different at first base.
Luckily for them, they have several guys who have experience playing first. Among these are Tommy La Stella, Darin Ruf, Wilmer Flores, and Austin Slater. Manager Gabe Kapler may choose to use these players on a matchup basis to begin the year if Belt is not ready to go.
Perhaps we can think of it as a mini-audition for next season. If one of those players can impress with their defense and bat, they could make themself a viable candidate if competition for the job breaks out next season, should Belt go to a different team in free agency.
Currently, La Stella is the only player who the Giants have signed past this season. Though, the Giants hold a $3.5 million team option for Flores that they will likely exercise. While La Stella can play first base, his height and build definitely seem better suited for second base or third base. If the Giants did decide to ride with La Stella at first next season, he is four inches shorter than Belt so we can only hope that the Giants will have solved their defensive woes by then and could handle throwing to a smaller target.
It does not seem very likely that the Giants would opt to go with one of the players who is currently seen as a backup option as their starter at first next season. Maybe they would platoon La Stella and whichever player they decide to bring back next year as a sort of stopgap measure while they try to figure out the future at the position.
But let’s not assume that this will be Belt’s last year in San Francisco. What would it take for the Giants to bring him back in 2022? The next slide examines that very question.