The MLB lockout continues, preventing Major League teams from even talking to players on 40-man rosters, let alone signing free agents to big league deals or making trades, but every organization continues to cycle through minor league free agents as possible depth or diamonds in the rough for the next season - and the SF Giants are no different.
Before the lockout began, Giants President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi and his staff decided not to tender contracts to three players - making them minor league free agents - rather than placing them on waivers, which would have risked other teams claiming the players for their own rosters. Instead, Zaidi and crew likely hoped the players would recognize the value of being in a forward-thinking organization and sign minor league deals to stay in the fold, which is what happened.
Recently, as reported by Chris Hilburn-Trenkle of Baseball America (no Giants transactions have been posted on MLB.com's official transactions page for January) in the midst of other previously-reported transactions, San Francisco signed OF Luis Gonzalez, RHP Sam Delaplane and LHP Joe Palumbo to contracts that allow them to be in the organization as minor leaguers.
Gonzalez spent the entirety of his professional career through 2021 in the Chicago White Sox system after being drafted in the third round in 2017 out of New Mexico. His best season came in 2018, when he hit .307 with 14 home runs and 40 doubles between Low-A and High-A.
Ranking in the White Sox top-30 prospects prior to every full season of his career, Gonzalez batted .266 with 32 homers and 38 stolen bases in 350 minor league games. He made his MLB debut in 2020, striking out in his only at-bat over three games played, and had two hits (both doubles) in eight at-bats with the Pale Hose in 2021. He was originally claimed by the Giants off wavers from the White Sox in August, even though he was in need of shoulder surgery.
Delaplane will also be out an undetermined length of time after Tommy John surgery in April. He was acquired from the Seattle Mariners for cash considerations in late-May. Delaplane last pitched in a game in 2019, when he had a 2.23 ERA and a whopping 120 strikeouts in 68 2/3 innings between High-A and Double-A.
Listed at 5'11 and 175 pounds, the San Jose native has defied expectations based on his size and draft status (23rd round out of Eastern Michigan) by turning in results. A 2.29 career ERA in pro ball is bolstered by 270 strikeouts and just 54 walks in 161 1/3 innings pitched, good for over 15 strikeouts per nine innings. If he returns to his ability after rehab, the Giants will likely have another weapon for their bullpen.
Palumbo, the southpaw, has been in the Texas Rangers system since 2013, when he was a 30th-round draft choice out of high school in New York. His 110 career MiLB appearances have been split exactly in half between starting and relieving, and he has performed well with 432 strikeouts in 363 2/3 innings and a 2.92 ERA.
In 2019-20, Palumbo compiled a 9.47 ERA in nine MLB appearances with the Rangers. He did not see the big leagues in 2021 and only pitched 6 2/3 innings at Triple-A.
Oswalt added to the pitching mix as well
In addition to the three players re-signed, RHP Corey Oswalt was inked to a minor league contract. Oswalt was a 7th-round pick in 2012 out of high school by the New York Mets. Primarily a starting pitcher throughout his career, he had a 3.50 ERA in over 600 innings in the minors.
Oswalt made his MLB debut in 2018 and has bounced between the Mets and the minors/alternate site every year since. In 26 Major League appearances (14 starts), he is 4-5 with a 5.89 ERA.