SF Giants: 5 cheap potential shortstop depth targets
By Marc Delucchi
5 Cheap Potential SF Giants Shortstop Targets
1. Luis Rengifo (Los Angeles Angels)
This probably goes a bit beyond the confines of “cheap.” However, Luis Rengifo has seen his stock drop rather substantially over the past two years. Once one of the ten best prospects in the Los Angeles Angeles system, Rengifo is not far from finding himself on the outside of their long-term plans.
Rengifo’s minor-league profile fits the Giants’ recent front-office tendencies almost perfectly. The Venezuelan switch-hitter moved through the Angels farm system quickly, while avoiding strikeouts, posting exceptional walk rates, and even generating decent power. Over the past two seasons, the Angels have given Rengifo an opportunity to lock down their everyday spot at second base. However, he’s failed to do so, posting a meager .221/.310/.331 triple-slash across 512 plate appearances. This spring, as Angels Rule 5 selection Jose Rojas has excelled, the organization has optioned Rengifo to the minor-leagues.
A solid defensive shortstop with extensive experience at second base, he would immediately become the Giants’ strongest option at Triple-A. Moreover, he’s shown impressive offensive flashes at Double-A and Triple-A in the past. Over his career, Rengifo has hit .284/.374/.450 triple-slash at the two highest minor-league levels, striking out in 14.8% of his plate appearances and walking 1.3% of the time.
Rengifo was promoted to the big-leagues at just 22-years-old and has not seen any time in the minor leagues since. He could probably use some extended playing time against weaker competition. Still 24, he’s far from a lost cause. In fact, even though he was demoted this spring, he was not overmatched in preseason play. He posted a solid .250/.389/.393 triple-slash with six walks and seven strikeouts in 36 plate appearances this spring.
The Angels have also invested quite heavily in their middle infield depth. Last year they acquired former Athletics top prospect Franklin Barreto. This offseason, on top of selecting Rojas in the Rule 5 draft, they added Kean Wong on a minor-league deal and claimed Jack Mayfield off waivers. In the rest of the farm system, seven of MLB Pipeline’s top 30 Angels prospects are listed as shortstops. The fact is, if the front-office views Rengifo as a part of the organization’s long-term plans, they have not acted like it.
It’s hard to know what a player like Rengifo would cost the Giants in a trade. Prospects do not lose their luster at an equal rate. His defensive versatility and relative youth make it easier to see Los Angeles holding onto him. One thing is clear though, they have prepared themselves to replace him internally if they find a deal. Given his contact abilities, defensive versatility, and strong plate approach at the plate, it seems like the Giants would be interested.
There are dozens of directions the SF Giants could go to address their middle-infield depth. Many players remain on the free-agent market and many others will be able to opt-out of their minor-league contracts if they do not make an MLB roster. If the Giants are looking for more than just a depth piece though, there could be some intriguing players available at bargain prices.