SF Giants Veteran outfielder Mitch Haniger did not start two straight games earlier this week. This prompted Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle to inquire about his status and manager Gabe Kapler had a surprising comment.
SF Giants manager Gaber Kapler offers surprising comment about Mitch Haniger
Slusser transcribed the comment on Twitter:
Haniger has not had a good season. He is in the first year of a three-year, $43.5 million contract that he signed last winter. This includes an opt-out after the second season, which his current performance would not merit that type of decision right now, but a lot can change before the end of 2024.
The seven-year veteran has missed considerable time with both an oblique injury and a fractured forearm. His production as the plate has cratered as he has struggled to the tune of a .214/.271/.378 line (77 OPS+) with six home runs, 28 RBI, and 27 runs in 218 plate appearances.
Haniger has produced a .798 OPS in his career while eclipsing 20 home runs in two different seasons. Plus, he is relatively platoon-proof as he has registered a .780 OPS against right-handed pitching and an .843 OPS against left-handed pitching. That said, he has played in over 100 games just twice in his career, so there was a high degree of injury risk.
The Giants envisioned him being an important part of their lineup when he signed. That just has not been the case and a recent play against the Arizona Diamondbacks demonstrated a lack of effort.
Of course, every player is trying as hard as he can. The team is trying to win, but when they struggle, a lack of effort is usually questioned whether right or wrong.
So, Kapler's comments lightly suggests that Haniger is being relegated to a bench role of sorts. That could very well be the case given where the team is in the standings. They started Friday being 3.5 games behind the Chicago Cubs for the third Wild Card spot.
The odds are extremely low that they sneak into the playoffs, but anyone who has watched them lately would agree that any odds are long gone at this point.
Perhaps, the Giants just do not want to risk any type of injury with Haniger and limiting his playing time down the stretch is one way to do so. Or, they want to use what time is left in the season to get a brief look at their rookies.
After all, they did just recall a trio of rookies on Thursday. Both are reasonable explanations, but it is not where Haniger or the Giants expected to be in his first season with San Francisco.