The Cleveland Guardians quietly made a nice move to bolster minor league depth in the upper levels by signing infielder Mitchell Tolman to a minor league deal, per Marc Delucchi. Tolman became a free agent in the offseason after spending the 2021 season in the SF Giants organization.
Cleveland Guardians sign former SF Giants Rule 5 Pick to minors contract
The left-handed bat was originally drafted in the seventh round of the 2015 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates out of the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon. Tolman reached the Pirates' Triple-A by 2019, but he was left unprotected in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft in 2020 where he was plucked away by the Giants.
The minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft rarely produces major league players, but it does give teams an opportunity to add some much-needed depth. The Giants had built up a lot depth, but lost six players during this year's portion of the minor league Rule 5 draft. The good news is that the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft has been canceled, so they are not in jeopardy of losing more prospect depth to this.
The addition of Tolman proved to be a nice, under-the-radar move in the upper minors. Split across two affiliates, the 27-year-old infielder slashed .260/.344/.443 with 10 home runs, 48 runs scored, and 42 RBI in 342 plate appearances. This included an 8.2 percent walk rate against a 23.1 percent strikeout rate.
This was one of his better seasons at the plate as he tied his career-high in home runs (10) in his lone season in the Giants organization. With the glove, Tolman offered plenty of versatility as he spent considerable time at shortstop, second base, and third base.
Given that he reached six seasons as a pro, Tolman elected free agency for the first time in his career. The Giants bolstered middle infield depth by adding Arquímedes Gamboa and Alex Blandino on minor league deals as well as bringing Jason Krizan on a minors pact, so Tolman likely did not see enough potential playing time with the Giants.
However, he has found a new home for 2022, latching on with the Cleveland Guardians organization. Delucchi's announcement did not indicate whether the deal includes a camp invite, but that seems unlikely with a shortened spring training.