Former SF Giants switch-hitting outfielder joins division rivals on minors deal

New York Mets v San Francisco Giants
New York Mets v San Francisco Giants / Andy Kuno/San Francisco Giants/GettyImages

Former SF Giants switch-hitting outfielder Bryce Johnson became a free agent after the 2023 season but has not moved far. He has agreed to a minor league deal with the San Diego Padres, per the team's transaction log. Presumably, this will include a camp invite.

Former SF Giants switch-hitting outfielder joins division rivals on minors deal

The Padres have been shedding payroll for much of the season. This includes parting ways with Juan Soto, Michael Wacha, Seth Lugo, and Nick Martinez. They will likely not make an attempt to re-sign Blake Snell or Josh Hader this offseason.

That is a lot of value lost in one offseason, but they have achieved their goal of slashing costs. They still will field a formidable lineup with Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr., and Xander Bogaerts. For the most part, they have been quiet in free agency. Though, they have recently added a pair of pitchers in Yuki Matsui and Woo Suk Go. Matsui is coming to the Padres after 10 seasons with the Rakuten Golden Eagles of the NPB, whereas just completed his seventh year with the LG Twins of the KBO.

There is no doubt that the Padres will look a bit different in 2024, but they could carry a familiar face in Johnson. The Giants drafted him in the sixth round of the 2017 draft out of Sam Houston State University.

Interestingly, Heliot Ramos is the only player from that Giants' draft class to sign and still be with the organization. Keaton Winn and Blake Rivera were drafted by San Francisco that year but did not sign. However, they were both drafted again in the following year and did sign.

Johnson made a gradual ascent up the minor league ladder, reaching Triple-A for the first time by the 2021 season. He spent parts of the past three years with the Sacramento River Cats. Across six minor league seasons, he registered a .276/.363/.385 line with a 10.5 percent walk rate and a 23.8 percent strikeout rate while playing above-average defense in center field.

His contract was selected by the Giants in 2022 where he tallied just two hits in 18 at-bats at the end of the season. Last year was a bit of an odd offseason for the 28-year-old outfielder as he was removed from the 40-man roster. He did make a positive impression in spring training last year and was quickly added back. That said, he struggled to the tune of a .485 OPS in 48 sporadic plate appearances while serving as a late-inning defensive replacement.

For Johnson, signing with the Padres is a nice change of scenery. There is a non-zero chance that he finds his way back in the majors next season.