Despite being optioned to Triple-A on Friday, Thairo Estrada has made a nice impression in his first season with the SF Giants. The right-handed hitter has likely played himself into a larger role with the club beyond 2021.
SF Giants: Does Thairo Estrada have a role in 2022?
His emergence is one of the many surprising aspects of this season. After all, the Giants acquired the versatile, middle infielder from the New York Yankees for cash considerations in April. Moves like these generally do not make an impact but Estrada has bucked that trend with a nice showing so far.
It bears mentioning that Donovan Solano is a free agent at the end of the season with Estrada and Mauricio Dubón as his likely replacements. All three players fill a similar role, so it is unlikely that Solano will return next season.
Interestingly, Dubón and Estrada were on the roster at the same time earlier this month and the former was optioned once José Quintana was activated from the paternity list. It was not a surprising move, but perhaps, an indication of how the organization views Estrada. That is to say that he might be higher on the depth chart than Dubón is right now.
It would be hard to argue with that assumption. Estrada has produced a solid .275/.331/.483 line (117 OPS+) with seven home runs, 22 RBI, 19 runs scored while being worth 0.9 WAR in 130 plate appearances. On the other hand, Dubón has struggled to the tune of a .655 OPS across 187 plate appearances in his third season with the Giants.
That said, Estrada’s surface-level stats seem to be inconsistent with the Statcast data. After all, the right-handed hitter does not hit the ball particularly hard (86.5 MPH exit velocity), nor does he impact the ball at the right angle (6.8-degree launch angle). These numbers suggest that there is some regression due for Estrada.
Nevertheless, the 25-year-old is proving to be a good mistake hitter. When a pitcher throws a pitch that catches too much of the heart of the plate, Estrada takes advantage. If done consistently, he can find a way to carve out a role as a major league player.
He may not have the highest upside in the batter’s box, but he might just be able to hit for enough power to generate value. On a different note, it helps that he can play five different positions. There is no doubt that the Giants like his versatility and that is something that they will continue to leverage going forward.
Estrada can do a lot of things on the baseball field. In terms of overall value, it may be a case where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In a season full of surprises, Estrada’s emergence as a long-term fit has quietly been one of the most exciting developments for the Giants in 2021. Plus, if he can stick, it is yet another player that the front office acquired in a shrewd, under-the-radar move.