The Giants still have a spot on their 40-man roster remaining and they aren’t going to fill it with unimpeachably good players — nor should they. Those kinds of players are expensive, and even if the Giants signed Bryce Harper and Manny Machado and Dallas Keuchel, they probably still wouldn’t make the playoffs. They can, however, fill out the roster with unimpeachably interesting players like they’ve already done with the switch-pitching Pat Venditte.
The Giants went after an interesting and good player last offseason: AL Rookie of the Year, and two-way player, Shohei Ohtani. They lost out on the first legitimate two-way player since
Rick Ankiel Babe Ruth, but the good news is that there could be another (albeit less legitimate) two-way player on the market if the Giants are willing to creative.
Matt Davidson, the former corner infielder for the White Sox, made not one, not two, but three relief appearances in the 2018 season and didn’t surrender a run. He also struck out two batters with his quite good curveball. One of those batters was Giancarlo Stanton!
Before the White Sox non-tendered him, Davidson was going to spend the offseason working to become a full-fledged two-way player.
You may be thinking, but the Giants already have a corner infielder who can sort of hit and has a good curveball. Yes, Pablo Sandoval tied with Chase d’Arnaud for the team lead in ERA last year, but Sandoval’s fastball comes in at Bronson Arroyoan (Arroyoian?) speeds. He’s fine in a blowout when the other team just wants to go home, but Davidson might actually be capable of protecting a lead.
Davidson’s curveball is not only the best pitch out of any position player’s arsenal, it’s also about as good as Adam Wainwright’s in terms of movement as Jeff Sullivan pointed out.
It’s not just the curveball either. Davidson’s 92 MPH fastball is passable even if the command leaves something to be desired. But for a player that only dabbles in pitching on the side, you could imagine his control improving with actual practice.
It’s a little weird that White Sox non-tendered Davidson in the first place because even as a one-way player, he was fine. He was projected to make $2.4 million in his first year of arbitration which the White Sox needed to lowball Manny Machado.
Davidson hit .228/.319/.419 for a 92 DRC+. The 34 percent career strikeout rate is pretty scary, but he had a decent walk rate last year and through his minor league career. He also hit 20 homers which a Giant hasn’t done since Brandon Crawford hit 21 in 2015. His 10.5 percent walk rate would have tied with Mac Williamson for fourth on the 2018 Giants.
Would Matt Davidson make the Giants better at winning baseball games? Probably not. But all he would cost is a billionaire’s money and a roster spot. He surely wouldn’t be the worst hitter on the Giants. He might not even be the worst pitcher in the bullpen either. He could absolutely be the most interesting player not named Pat Venditte, and he’d get more butts in seats than a new scoreboard.