Former top pick Joey Bart began the season as the Opening Day catcher for the SF Giants. However, a lot has changed since then and it could be the end of the line for him in a Giants uniform as he was placed on injured list for the Sacramento River Cats earlier this week.
Is it the end of the line for a former top pick in a SF Giants uniform?
There are a lot of reasons for this, but most notable, is the emergence of Patrick Bailey. The rookie catcher has flashed occasional power and a knack for clutch hits while showing off Gold Glove-caliber defense behind the plate.
He is the catcher of the present and the future, which leaves little room for someone like Bart. It is going to be an interesting offseason for Bart and one that likely leads to a change of scenery.
For starters, the 26-year-old old has just not performed when given the opportunity. In parts of four seasons, he has registered a .219/.288/.335 line (78 wRC+) with a 6.4 percent walk rate, 35.4 percent strikeout rate, and a .116 ISO.
The right-handed bat was never going to hit for a high average, but without a high walk rate and not nearly enough power to compensate for a high strikeout rate, it is just tough for him to offer much offensively.
Unfortunately, Bart's results have not been much better in Triple-A. Since being sent down midway through the season, he has posted a .248/.357/.393 line (86 wRC+) with six home runs in 244 plate appearances. Power has been one of his strengths since he was drafted with the second overall pick in 2018, but he just has not flashed it consistently enough at either level.
Bart did briefly return to the Giants in September while Bailey was on the concussion list. In fairness, Bart's defense has made some nice strides since he debuted in 2020, especially in terms of pitch framing. Though, he has not shown the ability to control the running game as effectively as Bailey.
This is all compounded by the fact that the young backstop has used his third and final option year this season. He will enter the offseason without a minor league option, which might force the front office to make a move sooner rather than later. And, they already have two other catchers on the 40-man roster in Bailey and Blake Sabol.
The Giants likely do not want to wait until the end of spring training to make a decision on Bart. If he does not make the team, then they will have to expose him to waivers. That is a time when teams usually try to sneak players through waivers as 40-man rosters are full across the league.
Or, they could commit to Bart being one of their catchers in 2024. With that being said, they have not been able to consistently commit to him over the past couple of seasons, so why would next year be any different?
The Giants will likely bring a catcher or two into camp next year as depth and competition. And, one of them should have experience to serve as a backup. It is unfortunate that Bart will finish the season on the injured list as Sacramento only has a handful of games remaining. The hope is that he will receive a much-needed change of scenery this winter as well as a chance for a fresh start.