SF Giants: Clutch veteran outfielder elects free agency

San Francisco Giants v Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants v Los Angeles Dodgers / Meg Oliphant/GettyImages

As the SF Giants gear up for Game 5 of the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, one outfielder who had a couple of key moments in the 2021 season has elected free agency. Mike Tauchman is hitting the open market after his contract expired at the end of the year.

SF Giants: Clutch veteran outfielder elects free agency

The veteran outfielder came over to the Giants at the beginning of the season in a move that sent left-handed hurler Wandy Peralta and first base prospect Connor Cannon to the New York Yankees. The Yankees did not have enough playing time for Tauchman and the Giants had a surplus of lefty relievers, so the move made sense for both teams.

Tauchman quickly endeared himself to the fanbase with his clutch hitting and stellar defense. In fact, the 30-year-old helped secure a win against the Dodgers thanks to a game-saving catch against Albert Pujols that sent the game into extra innings. The Giants eventually won that game by a score of 8-5.

Given that the Giants won the NL West by one game, the Tauchman catch is one that fans have remembered well so far from this season. That said, the left-handed bat struggled to make any impact with the bat. Tauchman has always demonstrated a selective eye and patient approach at the plate, but he struck out at too high of a frequency.

In total, Tauchman slashed .178/.286/.283 (56 OPS+) with four home runs, 15 RBI, and 21 runs scored in 175 plate appearances following the trade to the Giants. He consistently gave the Giants gritty at-bats, but he could not generate enough value on offense. That said, the Giants remained patient with the struggling outfielder due in part to how well they were playing as a team. One below-average performer had not weighed them down.

However, the Giants' patience ran out when Tauchman was designated for assignment at the end of July. When he went unclaimed, he accepted an assignment to Triple-A. He finished the season with the Sacramento River Cats, posting an .808 OPS in 154 plate appearances.

Now, the veteran outfielder hits the open market. It is unlikely that he will be able to secure a major league deal but he plays solid defense, runs well, and has good at-bat quality, so he will have a chance to make a team out of spring training. Tauchman's contributions do not necessarily show up in the box score, but he played an important role for the 2021 Giants.