When the SF Giants signed veteran outfielder Stephen Piscotty, it did not receive a lot of attention. He was signed right around the time when the non-roster invitee list was published, so it got buried in the news. That said, can the right-handed bat help the Giants this season?
Can veteran outfielder help the SF Giants in 2023?
The odds are low, but the same could have been said when the Giants added Darin Ruf to a minor league deal before the 2020 season. He was given an outside shot at making the club and ran with the opportunity as he became an important bat over the next two seasons.
If Piscotty makes his way to the Giants roster, it is likely a sign that a lot of things have gone wrong. For the most part, the outfield contingent is settled. Michael Conforto, Mitch Haniger, Mike Yastrzemski, and Austin Slater will share time patrolling the outfield grass.
Joc Pederson, LaMonte Wade Jr., and Thairo Estrada will serve as depth options as they have experience as well. Luis González, Heliot Ramos, and Luis Matos will start the year in the minors or on the injured list in the case of González.
So, there are a lot of options for the Giants to exhaust before they even get to Piscotty. Of course, Matos may not actually be an option in 2023 as he does not have experience above High-A.
It would probably take multiple injuries from the core outfielders along with continued regression from someone like Ramos to create an opportunity for Piscotty. That certainly could happen, but in the meantime, the 32-year-old outfielder is making a positive first impression in camp.
So far, he has tallied six hits in 12 at-bats with three runs scored in the Cactus League. Spring training stats do not carry a lot of weight, but Piscotty is trying to continue his career, so it is something to monitor at the very least.
Piscotty has appeared in eight seasons including five of those years coming with the Oakland A's beginning in 2017. The 2017 campaign proved to be his best year by far in an A's uniform as he registered an .821 OPS with 27 home runs in 605 plate appearances. However, he struggled to the tune of a .665 OPS over the next four years before he was eventually released by Oakland in August of 2022.
2017 was a long time ago and it would be too much to expect Piscotty to produce anywhere close to that. However, he does have a track record against left-handed pitching (.806 career OPS) and he is in an organization that leverages platoon matchups.
Could he help them in that role this season? That is a possibility. Though, it is a bit of an imperfect fit due in part to the fact that Piscotty does not have a lot of speed and flashes an average arm, meaning he is likely only suited for left field. In a sense, it would be a bit of a niche role for Piscotty.
Plus, it is tough to fill that role against left-handed pitching. Austin Slater does a very nice job of it, but he is more of the exception than the rule. I do not think the Giants can add another defensively-limited option to the bench.
However, they seem motivated to see what he still has to offer. It may not mean anything, but the Giants have usually penciled Piscotty into the middle of the order so far this spring.