It's hard to keep track of how many San Francisco Giants played center field for the team in 2023. Mike Yastrzemski was there on Opening Day, Luis Matos was there the day before the All-Star break, and then it was No. 30 prospect Tyler Fitzgerald on the last day of the season. Clearly, the Giants need to find a more regular presence to take over in center to give the team more stability across the board, and because it looks like it won't be coming from inside the organization, their attentions have turned to this year's free agent class.
Ranking 3 top center fielders the SF Giants could pursue in free agency
Given their pursuit of Aaron Judge last year and their expected pursuit of Shohei Ohtani this year, the Giants are clearly not afraid to chase after the players they want with large amounts of money they seem to conjure out of thin air. It's slim pickings for position players this year, so they may need to do just that in order to lock up one of the players on this list. Here are three center fielders the Giants could go after in free agency.
3. Harrison Bader
Teen heartthrob Harrison Bader ended the year struggling for the Cincinnati Reds — he batted .161/.235/.194 over 34 plate appearances — but we'll give him some well-earned benefit of the doubt here, as he did fine work for the Yankees in his one and a half years with the team and he's clearly a good presence in the outfield. He was a Gold Glover in 2021 for the Cardinals, and his Baseball Savant fielding numbers reflect a fast center fielder with great arm strength who saved nine outs this year, for an overall fielding run value in the 93rd percentile. He also only strikes out 17% of the time and is capable on the base paths, having stolen 20 bases this year.
Bader is a charismatic, easy player to root for who also happens to have better fielding numbers that Michael Conforto or Mike Yastrzemski. His numbers at the plate aren't always great, but if he can get his walk rate up he could be a scary, steal-prone runner at first. At 29, Bader also still has a few years ahead of him in the majors. With market value estimated at about $15 million a year, a multi-year contract with options built in, given Bader's offensive volatility, could be a good way to go in adding not only stability but real proficiency to the outfield.