A former SF Giants outfielder has found a new home for 2022 as Joe McCarthy has signed a minor league pact with the Texas Rangers. Given his skill set and experience, it is likely that the left-handed bat will receive a camp invite but that detail is not yet known.
2020 Opening Day outfielder for the SF Giants signs with Texas
McCarthy did not finish the season on the Giants 40-man roster, so he was eligible to sign anywhere despite baseball being in a lockout. The outfielder was one of 30 former prospects to elect for free agency earlier in the offseason.
The 27-year-old came over to the Giants in a minor trade that sent pitching prospect Jacob Lopez to the Tampa Bay Rays at the 2019 trade deadline. At the time, the Rays had a roster crunch and the Giants saw this as an opportunity to acquire an intriguing prospect.
The front office liked McCarthy's swing decisions and bat-to-ball skills while believing that he could tap into more power with a couple of mechanical tweaks.
However, his first impression with the Giants organization did not go as planned as he slashed .165/.247/.241 with one home run and four RBI in 89 plate appearances with Triple-A following the trade. He sustained a back injury, which had been an injury that had plagued him for much of his pro career.
Despite his struggles in Triple-A, the left-handed hitter made the Giants out of camp in 2020. Manager Gabe Kapler wanted a hitter that they could leverage against right-handed pitching, so McCarthy made some sense.
The Giants faced off against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first series of 2020 and McCarthy collected 10 hitless at-bats with five strikeouts. The Giants continued to believe that he would become a good major league hitter, but they demoted him after that rough patch. He was then designated for assignment later in the season.
McCarthy remained with the Giants organization through 2021. He did come into camp with a noticeable change to his stance, which included holding his hands higher. This helped to create a better bat path and the change paid dividends:
The former fifth-round pick had a career year at the plate with the Sacramento River Cats. He registered a .306/.384/.542 line (127 wRC+) with 15 home runs, 55 RBI, and 48 runs scored in 315 plate appearances. The home run output represented a career-high for the six-year veteran. He also posted typically strong plate discipline numbers as he generated a 19.4 percent strikeout rate against a 10.2 walk rate.
With numbers like those, McCarthy might have been a candidate for a promotion if the Giants were not in the midst of a 107-win season. The good news for him is that the Texas Rangers could present a good opportunity.
The Rangers struggled to get consistent production from its outfield contingent, especially as the left field and center field positions produced a sub-.700 OPS last year. There is an opportunity for the 27-year-old outfield to get another shot against major league pitching. He will need to perform well in spring training, but there are several soft spots in the outfield on the Rangers roster that could prove favorable for McCarthy.