Teams are beginning to finalize their rosters with Opening Day just a few days away, and a handful of former SF Giants players have made the cut with their new teams. In many cases, players were brought in on major-league contracts, but several former contributors at Oracle Park had to make a good impression as non-roster invitees.
Pablo Sandoval (Atlanta), Ehire Adrianza (Atlanta), Matt Duffy (Chicago Cubs), Joe Panik (Toronto Blue Jays), Charlie Culberson (Texas Rangers), and Aramís García (Oakland A’s) are just a few former Giants who have been told they have made the Opening Day roster with their new clubs. Needless to say, they are some of the most notable former Giants around the league.
Notable former SF Giants who made Opening Day rosters
The first five mentioned have ties to Giants’ championship run, with Garcia being the lone exception, not debuting in San Francisco until 2018. This spring, all six players faced stiff competition in making their respective teams, but it is a refreshing sign to see so many Giants alumni continue their playing careers.
Sandoval probably faced the longest odds to make an Opening Day roster, given that Atlanta is considered one of the top teams in the National League. Furthermore, given Sandoval’s role as a corner infielder with Freddie Freeman already on the team, there will not be many at-bats at first base leftover for Sandoval.
Third base, on the other hand, is a different story. As a whole, the Braves got a .708 OPS out of their third baseman in 2020, meaning there remains a lot of room for improvement. The switch-hitter had a good camp, slashing .432/.465/.514 with three doubles and four RBI in 37 at-bats. Sandoval could capture some playing time at the hot corner as the left-handed side of a platoon timeshare.
Sandoval will be joined by Adrianza on Atlanta’s roster as well. Adrianza is a switch-hitter, like Sandoval, but he is more of a glove-first utility player. Since his Giants’ tenure came to an end in 2016, Adrianza served as a solid utility player for the Minnesota Twins. He signed on with the Braves on a minor-league deal and registered a .429/.524/.743 line with two home runs and 12 RBI. He has never been known for his bat, so his impressive offensive output might not be sustainable. Nonetheless, his defensive prowess has always been exceptional.
Duffy, another former fan-favorite at Oracle Park, will be wearing a Cubs uniform to start the 2021 season. Duffy has experience all around the diamond and will serve as a bench option to an infield that is well-established with Kris Bryant at third base, Javy Báez at shortstop, and Anthony Rizzo first. In spring training, Duffy posted a tough .276/.276/.310 line with one double and three RBI. The bat may not return to its 2015 form when the right-handed hitter produced a 108 OPS+ in 612 plate appearances, but the Cubs like his defensive versatility and hope to help him rekindle some offensive success.
Speaking of versatility, Panik has made the Blue Jays roster as well. Panik spent the 2020 campaign with the Blue Jays, and Toronto liked his steady glove at shortstop, third base, and second base. As is common with Panik, he performed well in spring training, registering a .290/.353/.323 line with one double and six RBI in 31 at-bats. Panik has always had a contact-heavy approach, which has continued this spring as he has struck out just once.
Culberson had a brief stint with the Giants, but the trade sent him to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for Marco Scutaro in 2012 proved to be a huge transaction in franchise history. The right-handed bat has carved out a nice career as a utility player with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta, and he will continue his playing career with the Rangers. He posted a .318/.483/.409 line in 22 at-bats for a Rangers squad that is in the midst of a reset.
Lastly, Garcia is set to receive his first extended look in the majors with the Oakland A’s. The A’s acquired the catching prospect in February in a deal that Khris Davis and Elvis Andrus headlined. Garcia batted .385 in 26 Cactus League at-bats with three doubles and seven RBI on the way to making a solid case to make the A’s Opening Day roster.
Spring training is coming to a close, but a handful of former SF Giants have put together strong preseason performances while earning a spot with their new teams and continuing their playing careers. The Giants are the fanbase’s focus, but there are plenty of fan-favorites to follow who are playing with new teams these days.