Veteran backstop Austin Wynns was designated for assignment last week to finalize Michael Conforto's two-year, $36 million deal. His situation was resolved on Friday as he cleared waivers and accepted an assignment to Triple-A, per the team's transaction log.
Veteran catcher remains with SF Giants after clearing waivers
This is likely good news for both team and player. The Giants are extremely thin on catching depth in the upper minors. Currently, Joey Bart is the only catcher on the 40-man roster with major league experience.
Blake Sabol is also on the 40-man roster as a Rule 5 pick from the Pittsburgh Pirates. He has appeared in just 94 games at catcher in three minor league seasons. However, the Giants appear motivated to give him a shot to make the club out of camp.
San Francisco has also added some versatile catchers on minor league deals including Brett Cumberland, Clint Coulter, and Ricardo Genovés. In the case of Cumberland and Coulter, they have experience at catcher, but each has graded out as a subpar defender in the minors.
On the other hand, Genovés has a reputation as a good pitch framer with a quality arm and occasional power. That said, Sabol, Cumberland, Coulter, and Genovés do not have major league experience.
Retaining Wynns is a nice move for the Giants as they need experienced catchers and are unlikely to add a catcher on a guaranteed contract.
The veteran catcher came over to the Giants in a midseason trade with the Philadelphia Phillies. He served as a backup option while Bart was demoted to Triple-A after a frustrating start to the season.
Wynns filled in nicely, slashing .259/.313/.358 (90 OPS+) with three home runs, 21 RBI, and 14 runs in 177 plate appearances. This included a 5.7 percent walk rate against a 21.5 percent strikeout rate. The right-handed bat finished the year on a positive note as he tallied an .894 OPS in 47 plate appearances in the final month of the season.
According to Baseball Prospectus, Wynns was the highest-rated Giants catcher with +3.7 Catcher Defensive Adjustment (CDA). His framing was considered a strength.
The 32-year-old hit just enough and performed capably for the Giants behind the dish. If Sabol does not make the team out of spring training, it is possible that Wynns' removal from the 40-man roster is only temporary, especially if the Giants do not add any other catchers.