In the pos-mortem press conference, SF Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi answered a number of questions pertaining to this upcoming winter. He shed light on the organization's thought process for Brandon Belt, Evan Longoria, and Carlos Rodón . However, one key question was not asked and it is a pretty big one - what do the Giants do at catcher?
One question that was not asked during the SF Giants post-mortem press conference
Joey Bart had an up-and-down season in his first official full year as the team's starter. He had flashes where he looked like he was a legitimate force at the plate and he had stretches where he struggled to produce.
He began the season as the Giants' starting catcher with Curt Casali as his backup. There were no questions about this when the year began, but Bart struggled to the tune of a .156/.296/.300 line (79 wRC+) with four home runs, seven RBI, and 12 runs in 108 plate appearances before being demoted to Triple-A. This came with a 13.9 percent walk rate, which was great, and a 45.4 percent strikeout rate, which was way too high.
In his place, the Giants acquired veteran backstop Austin Wynns from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for pitching prospect Michael Plassmeyer. Casali suffered an oblique strain, which proved to be the end of his Giants' tenure as he was shipped to the Seattle Mariners at the trade deadline while still on the injured list.
Bart was recalled and it felt like he was more himself at the plate. The decision to move Casali helped as well as it showed the organization's commitment to Bart.
The young backstop recorded a .283/.325/.478 line (127 wRC+) in his first 120 plate appearances after rejoining San Francisco. He was still striking out at a very high rate of 29.2 percent, but that is easier to tolerate given his overall production.
Unfortunately, he was unable to sustain that momentum as he tallied a 39 wRC+ in the final 63 plate appearances of the season. It bears mentioning that Bart sustained a concussion at the end of August, which could very well have been the cause of his struggles at the plate. Hopefully, he is fully recovered from it by the start of next season if that was the case.
His work at the plate was a mixed bag overall. But, his work behind the plate did not grade out well at all. Baseball Prospectus has a metric called Catcher Defensive Adjustment (CDA), which factors in pitch framing, blocking, and stolen base efficiency into one number.
Bart was worth -2.8 CDA due primarily to poor marks in pitch framing. On the other hand, Austin Wynns was the only Giants catcher in 2022 with a net positive at +3.7 CDA. It seems possible and likely that the Giants will retain Wynns next season for his catching acumen and decent offensive skills.
With all this being said, the Giants might have more questions than answers at catcher heading into the offseason. Bart was tabbed as the Giants catcher of the future when he was selected with the second overall pick of the 2018 draft out of Georgia Tech.
However, the right-handed bat struggled to find consistency in his first full season with the Giants. He can certainly improve upon this next year, but it has to be a concern in the back of the front office's mind as they head into a very important offseason.