The SF Giants are going to experiment with a new position for Thairo Estrada in camp

San Francisco Giants v Arizona Diamondbacks
San Francisco Giants v Arizona Diamondbacks / Chris Coduto/GettyImages

I might use this phrase a few times over the next few weeks, but SF Giants FanFest feels like the unofficial beginning of the season. Just minutes into FanFest, Giants manager Gabe Kapler confirmed that utility infielder Thairo Estrada will "get some looks" in center field in spring training.

The SF Giants are going to experiment with a new position for Thairo Estrada in camp

The first thing I will mention is that a lot of players experiment with new or different positions in spring training, so this is not necessarily a sign that Estrada will be moving off of second base. Ideally, The 26-year-old shows enough in camp to be able to handle the position occasionally. This is just another way to keep him in the lineup.

Kapler mentioned Estrada's sprint speed as a reason why they want to try him in center field. It should come as no surprise that he had the best sprint speed on the team in 2022, averaging 28.3 feet per second. In fairness, Lewis Brinson graded out as even faster, but in a far smaller sample.

The outfield is not necessarily a new position for Estrada, but center field definitely is. The Giants lost a game against the San Diego Padres by a score of 10-1 last year in late May. The reason I am bringing this up is because Estrada appeared in center field for the first and only time in his 10-year professional career.

The Giants tried this with Mauricio Dubón a few seasons ago and he learned the position on the fly relatively seamlessly.

At the very least, seeing what Estrada can do in center field makes sense. The 40-man roster is thin on players capable of playing premium positions and that is especially true of center field. Mike Yastrzemski is penciled in to see a lot of time at center in 2023 with Austin Slater filling in against right-handed pitchers.

That said, Slater looked challenged in center field last year. Heliot Ramos and Luis Matos have experience in center field as well in the minors, but they both need more seasoning.

The 2022 was a solid season for Estrada as he slashed .260/.322/.400 (104 OPS+) with 14 home runs, 62 RBI, and 71 runs in 541 plate appearances. This includes a 6.1 percent walk rate against a 16.5 percent strikeout rate.

The right-handed bat was one of the more durable players on the team as he appeared in 140 games last year. He also is one of the more versatile and athletic players, so the Giants are trying to leverage that.

Estrada had some experience in left field, so center field will not be a totally new position. If he can handle the position, it gives the Giants a little extra flexibility for a roster that is relatively short on it.