The SF Giants are giving a power-hitting outfielder an audition as the season winds down. Austin Dean's contract was selected right before Friday's game against the Chicago Cubs.
SF Giants add power-hitting outfielder to the 40-man roster
Andrew Knapp and Yermín Mercedes were outrighted off of the 40-man roster and sent to Sacramento, per the team's transaction log. The news about Knapp is not surprising given that he was designated for assignment just a couple of days ago. Evidently, he went unclaimed and accepted an assignment to Triple-A.
On the other hand, the news regarding Mercedes is mildly surprising. That said, the 29-year-old took to social media on Thursday night to foreshadow that a roster move was imminent.
Kanpp tallied one hit in four at-bats with two walks in his brief stint with the Giants while Joey Bart was on the concussion list. Mercedes got a much longer look, slashing .233/.325/.342 (94 wRC+) with one home run, eight RBI, and nine runs in 83 plate appearances.
He put together some gritty at-bats while posting a solid .708 OPS in 56 plate appearances against left-handed pitching. That is likely going to be his role going forward but it is tough to get his name in the lineup given that he is limited defensively. San Francisco experimented with Mercedes in left field, but it proved to be too challenging.
Austin Dean has appeared in parts of four seasons with the Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals. He has struggled to find his foot against major league pitching as he has posted a .672 OPS with 11 home runs across a total of 356 plate appearances.
However, he is being rewarded with a late-season promotion to the big club. The Giants originally claimed the right-handed bat off of waivers from the Cardinals last offseason. He was removed from the 40-man roster after going unclaimed on waivers just before the start of the season.
The 28-year-old outfielder has had a nice season with Sacramento, registering a 262./335/.465 line (96 wRC+) with 16 home runs, 51 RBI, and 58 runs in 394 plate appearances with the River Cats. This includes an 8.1 percent walk rate against a 23.1 percent strikeout rate.
Dean might be a better overall fit on the 40-man roster than Mercedes given that he has a lot of experience in the outfield as well as first base. Though, the defensive metrics rate him as a subpar outfielder as he has been worth -15 DRS and -12 OAA in his career.
The righty recorded one hit in four at-bats in the Giants' 4-2 loss against the Cubs on Friday. If he can prove that he can handle left-handed pitching, then he might have a chance to stick on the 40-man roster.