The SF Giants will have a new face in the organization when the second half begins. According to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Giants are nearing an agreement on a minor league deal with veteran backstop Andrew Knapp. Shea adds that Knapp will likely be assigned to Triple-A.
SF Giants reportedly bolster catching depth after adding veteran backstop
This will be Knapp's fourth organization since the start of the season. The 30-year-old catcher began the year with the Cincinnati Reds, then latched on with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and appeared briefly with the Seattle Mariners before being released just a couple of days ago.
The Giants-Mariners connection is never more than a few degrees away from separation.
Knapp was originally drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the second round of the 2013 draft out of the University of California - Berkeley. He is a local product as he was born and raised in Roseville, California.
The switch-hitter was regarded as a quality prospect, ranking as high as No. 96 according to Baseball America in 2016. Across seven minor league seasons, Knapp has registered a .270/.344/.420 line with an 8.9 percent walk rate against a 22.9 percent strikeout rate.
However, he has not been as successful against major league pitching. In parts of six seasons, mostly with the Phillies, Knapp has slashed .209/.309/.314 (86 OPS+) with an 11.7 percent walk rate against a 31.6 percent strikeout rate.
This includes a strong 2020 campaign in which he posted an .849 OPS in 89 plate appearances with Philadelphia. That said, his numbers were inflated by an unusually high .346 BABIP. Nevertheless, switch-hitting catchers are rare and Knapp has tallied a .314 on-base percentage in his career against right-handed pitching, so he can fill a niche role.
San Francisco is light on catching depth in Sacramento. Jhonny Pereda and Ricardo Genoves have spent the bulk of the time at catcher in Triple-A, but the latter was assigned to Double-A a couple of weeks ago. The addition of Knapp gives the River Cats more coverage behind the plate.
Plus, the Giants do expect Curt Casali back at some point in 2022. Joey Bart has recorded eight hits in 29 at-bats since being recalled at the beginning of July. If his bat continues to rebound, this could make Austin Wynns the odd person out as he does not have any options remaining.
Knapp could be a precursor to an eventual change at catcher. Or, the signing could be to give Sacramento a veteran presence at catcher while Knapp gets a chance to be play close to his hometown. Either way, it gives the organization a little more experience at a position where they are relatively light in the upper minors.