SF Giants add corner infielder in sneaky waiver claim from the Rockies

Colorado Rockies v Washington Nationals
Colorado Rockies v Washington Nationals / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

The SF Giants made a move that they have made a few times in recent years and even benefitted from it. On Friday, the claimed corner infielder Colton Welker from the Colorado Rockies and immediately transferred him to the 60-day injured list.

SF Giants add corner infielder in sneaky waiver claim from the Rockies

San Francisco needed an open roster spot to make such a move, so Thairo Estrada was activated from the COVID list whereas Tommy La Stella was placed on it. Placing a player on the COVID list opens up a 40-man roster spot, so the Giants used that to claim Welker, recall him, and place him on the 60-day injured list after undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery.

If this maneuver sounds familiar, it is basically they have done this in the past with Luis González , Sam Delaplane, and Darien Núñez. This allows Welker to accrue service time and receive a major league salary while recovering from surgery.

The Rockies opted not to follow this when they designated him for assignment earlier this week. The Giants have plenty of financial flexibility to make this type of move, but it is a moved designed for 2023.

Welker was originally drafted in the fourth round of the 2016 draft by the Rockies out of Stoneman-Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. He was often regarded as one of the Rockies' top prospects and even one of the better prospects in baseball, ranking as high as No. 95 according to MLB.Com.

In six minor league seasons, the right-handed bat has registered a .309/.364/.471 line with a 7.9 percent walk rate against a 17.5 percent strikeout rate. He has thrived against Triple-A pitching, posting an .879 OPS with five home runs, and 25 RBI in 143 plate appearances.

Welker debuted with the Rockies in 2021 where he recorded seven hits in 37 at-bats. Welker's development has been slowed by injuries as well as an 80-game PED suspension and a canceled minor league season in 2020.

He has played a total of 62 games between the minors and majors since the start of 2020, so he is still relatively light on pro experience for a player who was drafted in 2016. Despite the limited action, Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs likes Welker's hit tool:

""He’s another prospect with a water-carrying hit tool in this system, as Welker has beautiful feel for all-fields contact and covers the whole strike zone. He has a well-balanced, long, slow leg kick and is great at diving and hitting pitches away from him the other way. He stays inside the baseball and works center and right/center field most of the time, only really turning on hanging breaking balls with pull power.""

Eric Longenhagen

The 24-year-old prospect has not flashed a ton of power as he eclipsed the 10-homerun threshold just twice as a pro. Welker has spent a lot of time at third base, but he will need to ht for a high average to be able to stick.

This is a move designed for next season at a position where the Giants might have to start looking for potential replacements. The cost is minimal, but if he performs anything like Luis González has in 2022, it can result in a nice payoff.