The SF Giants received some bad luck as Thairo Estrada sustained a hand fracture after being hit on the hand during a game against the New York Mets over the weekend. He is expected to miss four-to-six weeks, meaning that the Giants will need to find ways to replace his value.
Internal options to replace SF Giants second baseman Thairo Estrada
Estrada has been a solid contributor on both sides of the ball in 2023. He has slashed .272/.327/.434 (107 OPS+) with nine home runs, 31 RBI, and 46 runs in 315 plate appearances. Plus, his defense at second base has improved quite a bit. He has been worth +5 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and +11 Outs Above Average (OAA).
Finding a way to replace him is easier said than done. The Giants could look to the trade market for a replacement. However, given that they expect him to return this season, they could just ride it out until he does. If they pursue the latter option, what internal options are available?
1. Casey Schmitt/Brett Wisely
This feels like the most likely option. The Giants recalled Brett Wisely over the weekend in response to Estrada's injury. That said, the 24-year-old prospect does give the Giants coverage at multiple positions, including second base and center field.
His defense at second base has been solid as he has shown range to both sides. Plus, it bears mentioning that he hits from the left side. While his .528 OPS in 91 plate appearances is well below average, the Giants do like to leverage platoon matchups. So, Wisely could see time as a backup at second base.
With that being said, Casey Schmitt's playing time has diminished over the past couple of weeks. The Estrada injury should help him get back into the lineup. The infield prospect has registered a .235/.272/.336 line (66 OPS+) with two home runs, 21 RBI, and 16 runs in 158 plate appearances.
The good news is that he has a 24.1 percent strikeout rate. Usually, when a player struggles, the strikeout rate is one characteristic that spikes up. However, that has not been the case with Schmitt. However, he does have a 47.9 percent chase rate, which is way too high.
He should see a bump in his playing time over the next few weeks. Though, he will need to show much better control of the strike zone.
2. Isan Díaz
Isan Díaz has been on the radar ever since last season. The Giants acquired the former top prospect in a minor trade with the Miami Marlins at the start of 2022. He responded well to a change of scenery by registering a .275/.377/.574 line with 23 home runs, 61 RBI, and 60 runs in 332 plate appearances with Sacramento.
The Giants rewarded his strong performance by adding him to the 40-man roster in the winter. He has missed much of this season due to injury, but he has tallied a .935 OPS with five home runs in 48 plate appearances in Triple-A. The Giants briefly called him up where he recorded eight hitless at-bats.
It might not be the best option, but he does have a lot of experience at second base. That said, second base might be the only position he should be playing.
3. Dalton Guthrie
The Giants might not be able to replace Estrada's value, but they could replace his speed and versatility. San Francisco swung a trade to acquire the versatile utility player from the Philadelphia Phillies at the end of June.
Guthrie has posted a .263/.321/.400 line with a 6.2 percent walk rate against an 18.2 percent strikeout rate across six minor league seasons. This includes a 2022 campaign in which he stole 21 bases in 27 opportunities with the Phillies' Triple-A affiliate.
Since joining the Giants organization, the right-handed bat has produced a .685 OPS in 42 plate appearances. However, he would offer the Giants some defensive coverage as he has a lot of experience in center field, right field, second base, and third base.
Given his versatility, he could be a more likely alternative than Díaz. The only other infield option on the 40-man roster and not currently on the active roster is Marco Luciano. It would be a fun idea to call him up, but it might not be best for his development as has spent the 2023 season in Double-A.