SF Giants general manager Pete Putila joined the Murph and Mac show on KNBR last Wednesday to discuss several topics including the team's outlook at shortstop. Behind Brandon Crawford, Putila listed Thaio Estrada, Isan Díaz, and Brett Wisely as potential alternatives and he confirmed that the team "feels pretty good about" those options at shortstop.
GM Pete Putila: SF Giants "feel pretty good about" shortstop depth
The Giants would like to avoid the situation they encountered midway through last season where both Crawford and Estrada were on the injured list, so they had to swing a trade with the Chicago Cubs to bring in an emergency option in veteran Dixon Machado.
Defense was an issue for the Giants last year and there were no exceptions. The Giants were worth -6 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), -2.1 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), and +9 Outs Above Average (OAA) at shortstop in 2022. OAA painted a favorable picture of the defense at shortstop, but an unfavorable opinion based on DRS and UZR.
There is no denying that the Giants need to improve the team's defense if they are going to be competitive in 2023. Despite the poor metrics, Crawford is still just one year removed from winning his fourth Gold Glove award at shortstop.
He has proven to be one of the more durable and effective players at his position over the past 10 years. However, Crawford will be entering his age-36 season after a 2022 campaign in which he made multiple trips to the injured list.
It would behoove the Giants to have a little extra depth just in case. On paper, the Giants did not do much to address the position, adding Díaz to the 40-man roster and swinging a trade to acquire Wisely.
Díaz has worked primarily at second base with some coverage at third base across four major league seasons. In that time, the 26-year-old did not show much range and flashed a below-average arm, so it feels like he is better suited for the right side of the infield. In fairness, Putila did mention that the Díaz showed more explosiveness after a strong offseason workout routine.
Wisely started Sunday's game at shortstop. However, he is known as a bat-first utility infielder. The left-handed bat does not look like a natural in the infield and he has appeared in only 19 games on shortstop as a pro. He is versatile enough to handle multiple positions, but an extended look at shortstop might be asking a lot.
Lastly, Estrada is penciled in as the primary backup to Crawford. Estrada's defense at second base rated as below average last year, but in a brief stint at shortstop, he was worth -2 DRS, +1.5 UZR, and +3 OAA. Based on this, he was a serviceable backup.
Putila highlighted Estrada's athleticism as a reason why they are excited for him as an option at shortstop. Of course, Giants fans know that the 27-year-old is easily one of the more athletic players on the team.
It is a bit of a mixed bag at this point. Díaz and Wisely appear to be primarily second basemen, whereas Estrada has the ability to move around the infield. It is not the most comfortable depth at shortstop in my opinion, but the new Giants general manager appears satisfied with it.