Veteran infielder proving that he can still help SF Giants out in key area

San Diego Padres v San Francisco Giants
San Diego Padres v San Francisco Giants / Andy Kuno/San Francisco Giants/GettyImages

The SF Giants took a flyer on veteran infielder Nick Ahmed at the start of spring training. It was a no-risk move to see what Ahmed could do after spending 10 seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He is proving that he can still help the team out in a key area - defense.

Veteran infielder proving that he can still help SF Giants out in key area

This should come as no surprise. After all, the veteran infielder took home the Gold Glove Award at shortstop in 2018 and 2019. However, it has been a long time since then and he underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in 2022.

He returned to the Diamondbacks last season but struggled to the tune of a .560 OPS in 210 plate appearances before being cut loose by the club in September. This ended his 10-year run with Arizona, but he continued to perform capably at shortstop despite his struggles at the plate.

Ahmed is nearly two years removed from major shoulder surgery and came into Giants camp with something to prove. The righty bat tallied 11 hits, including four extra-base hits, in 31 Cactus League at-bats while beating out Marco Luciano for the everyday shortstop gig. This might end up being a good thing for Luciano.

Of course, the Giants had a longtime shortstop of their own in Brandon Crawford. His 13-year run with the club came to an end after the 2023 season. The Giants offered Crawford a similar, non-guaranteed deal that they handed out to Ahmed, but he rejected it. The optics of it were not pretty at all.

That said, this might be best for the organization. Ahmed has no ties to the organization, so if he struggles, then releasing him is a relatively easy decision. On the other hand, that conversation would be much more difficult if Crawford was on the roster and struggling. Both players have similar value to offer at this stage in their respective careers.

For Ahmed, he has a long track record of being a below-average hitter. That has not changed since putting on a Giants uniform as he has recorded a .499 OPS in 31 plate appearances to start the year. There is still plenty of time to turn that around. Though, it would be a surprise.

The 34-year-old is continuing to play solid defense. According to the defensive metrics, he has been worth +2 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and +4 Outs Above Average (OAA). Admittedly, defensive metrics in small samples can be misleading. However, he passes the eye test so far even if he has had some issues throwing to first base. He has made the plays and the metrics paint a favorable picture of his work.

At the end of the day, that is all the Giants could expect from Ahmed. They revamped the team's defense with offseason additions like Jung Hoo Lee, Matt Chapman, and Ahmed. The pitching staff will put the ball in play a lot and the Giants need a defense that can field the ball. For the time being, Ahmed is doing just that and he is doing it at a premium position.

At some point, the Giants will need to weigh whether they can take a hit on defense if it means more offense for the lineup. Bringing up Luciano could get them a better bat to hit lower in the lineup. However, that is a conversation for a different day and someday soon. Ahmed's bat might be an extreme weak spot in the lineup, but at least he is doing what he was brought in to do - play defense.