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Looking back at the 2019 Giants, with an eye toward the future. Previously: Donovan Solano, Kevin Pillar, Alex Dickerson, Fernando Abad, Stephen Vogt, Madison Bumgarner, Will Smith, Pablo Sandoval.
Joey Rickard’s first appearance as a Giant came Aug. 8, inserted as a defensive replacement in the midst of a Madison Bumgarner no-hit bid. And, of course, the first ball was hit to him in left, a heart-pounding first impression. He caught the fly ball and exhaled. His tenure in San Francisco would slow down from there.
Rickard neither over- nor underwhelmed in his short time with the Giants, becoming yet another Triple-A hitting machine (.372/.431/.587) while playing sporadically with San Francisco, a righty bat who slashed .280/.333/.380 in 54 plate appearances.
The 28-year-old was the second outfielder from Baltimore whom the Giants claimed — Mike Yastrzemski is a keeper — and the two talked about the hitting deathtrap that is Harbor Park, the home of Baltimore’s Triple-A Norfolk affiliate. They escaped and both put up much better numbers across the country. Will Rickard stick around to follow up on that decent Giants debut?
The Las Vegas native is slotted for about $1.1 million in arbitration, according to MLB Trade Rumors, which is not expensive; it more will be a question of whether his skills warrant a roster spot. His biggest talent — and the one Zaidi likely likes best — is his prowess against lefties. He hit .256/.365/.378 with two homers, two doubles and a triple in 96 plate appearances against major league southpaws last year.
If the Giants fit lefties Yastrzemski in right and Alex Dickerson — for as long as he stays healthy — in left, they would want righty complements (and, in Dickerson’s case, probably more than that). Austin Slater will be around and also has the ability to move to the infield. Jaylin Davis’ righty bat will fight to be in the mix.
Of the righty corner outfielders on the market, Nicholas Castellanos, Marcell Ozuna (who has a qualifying offer) and, uh, Yasiel Puig stick out. Castellanos especially, who killed lefties last season, slashing .370/.425/.713 in 120 plate appearances. Would the Giants, still in a soft rebuild, give $50 million-plus to a corner outfielder without standout on-base skills? Whether it’s Castellanos or someone else, Rickard’s job would be in jeopardy.
Rickard survived one 40-man roster purging Tuesday, when Mike Gerber and Ricardo Pinto were designated for assignment.
“Just grow in all phases. Not too content in anything, getting consistent at-bats, defense, running,” Rickard told KNBR in the season’s last week, looking ahead to his offseason goals. “So it’s not really focus on one thing, just overall game.
“… You miss [baseball] a lot quicker than you think. You get really bored really easily.”
The Giants will keep churning, constantly flipping the bottom of their roster in search for talent on the margins. That brought them Rickard, who had flamed out with the Orioles. Will it also lead to his exit?