This offseason began with the surprise announcement of Buster Posey's retirement after 12 seasons in an SF Giants uniform. With the lockout following shortly thereafter, the Giants had not publicly addressed the catcher situation until Tuesday.
Top SF Giants executive Farhan Zaidi reveals plan at catcher
Team president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi joined KNBR recently to discuss what the team's approach was going to be at catcher. He quickly confirmed that former second overall pick Joey Bart was going to take the reins behind the dish:
"We want to give him (Bart) a lot of rope this camp and early in the season. Having a second catcher like Curt (Casali) really gives us the ability to sort of ratchet up or down Joey's playing time based on how it's going. We view these guys as a tandem and Joey's got the ability to really take the reins and catch the majority of games..."- Farhan Zaidi
There is little surprise in that the Giants are ready to hand over the keys to the pitching staff to the 25-year-old catcher. Bart was drafted by the Giants in 2018 out of Georgia Tech and he was promoted prematurely in 2020 in an attempt to get more offense out of the catcher position.
At the time of his promotion, the young backstop had a total of 87 plate appearances above Single-A, so making the jump to face major league catching was a difficult challenge. He slashed .233/.288/.320 (68 OPS+) with zero home runs, 15 runs scored, and seven RBI in 111 plate appearances in the COVID-shortened season.
Bart struggled get any lift on the ball as he produced a ground ball in 51.6 percent of batted ball events. With that being said, his struggles were to be expected and it is part of the reason why he spent nearly the entire season in Triple-A in 2021. The front office did not want to be put in a similar position where they would be forced to promote him.
He will not be the last rookie to struggle in his first stint against major league pitching, but it is always interesting to see how a player responds after facing a tough challenge.
Interestingly, Zaidi indicated that Curt Casali could be in line for more playing time if Bart struggles at the plate. The pitching staff liked pitching to Casali last season and the results were impressive as the Giants posted a 42-13 record in games he started.
It does seem like Bart is going to get a very long look early in the season. Hopefully, he can find some early success in the batter's box to build his confidence. But, if there was any confusion about how the Giants were going to begin the year at catcher, Zaidi was sure not to leave anything open to interpretation.