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Hanser Alberto claimed off waivers, Jake Barrett designated for assignment

The Giants switch up their bet from an interesting reliever to an interesting utility infielder.

Milwaukee Brewers v Texas Rangers Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Well, that was fast. A little less than three weeks after the Giants traded for Diamondbacks reliever Jake Barrett, they’ve designated him for assignment after claiming utility infielder Hanser Alberto off waivers from the Orioles.

It’s worth noting:

Also worth noting: every time the Giants make a transaction that involves the bullpen right now, it forces Doug to rewrite his bullpen piece for the 2019 season preview. This past week has been some slow drip torture for him. Please do not find personal pleasure in his misery.

In the meantime, the Giants added a talented 26 year old position player — no, not that one — to the 40-man roster and have set themselves up nicely in terms of actual roster depth.

The current infield situation looks like this:

Starters: Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Evan Longoria, Joe Panik

Backups: Alen Hanson, Pablo Sandoval, Breyvic Valera, Abiatal Avelino, and Ryder Jones.

Backup backups: Buster Posey, Austin Slater

Last September, it was something like Evan Longoria, Alen Hanson, Chase d’Arnaud, a hamper of socks, and Aramis Garcia after the starters went down. The Giants simply didn’t have much “second-level” depth, and traditionally, when they’ve added these fringe pieces, they’ve been established major league veterans.

Hanser Alberto is young and has some ceiling. I’m going to let the indispensable Giants Prospects Twitter account — which I should definitely hire to work here at some point — do some of the scouting work here:

Indeed, the ol’ Baseball Cube show his minor league slash line across 700+ games to be a paltry .287 / .316 / .393. He has a 3.4% walk rate and 8.79% strikeout rate, which suggests he’s mainly a contact hitter — seemingly a perfect fit for the Giants. Some other quirks of his minor league stat line: 86/121 in stolen bases (71%), 30 hit by pitches, and 56 combined sacrifice hits & flies.

Just based on all those numbers and his general utility — he’s played every infield position in his pro career, but primarily shortstop in the minors and second base in the majors — he looks like a scrappy, hard-nose, gets-his-jersey-dirty player. A high energy guy who’s versatile enough to be league average if given enough time.

In fact, in a lot of ways, he’s a younger, cheaper, controllable (his first year of arbitration won’t be until 2020) version of Yangervis Solarte. His 38 minor league home runs in 7 seasons is just one less than Solarte’s 39 across ten seasons. He has not been a good major league player in the three seasons he’s played — .192 / .210 / .231 with a 4:38 walk to strikeout ratio in just 89 games and 192 plate appearances all with the Rangers despite being claimed by three teams — and doesn’t project to be a very good player this season, but that’s what the options are for and that’s where changes in organizational coaching can help — if not now, then in the next couple of seasons.

Here’s one of those lottery ticket / depth moves that could really be something special. Max Muncy was signed by the Dodgers at the beginning of 2017 after the A’s released him. He stayed in their farm system all year and then emerged as a star player in 2018. The Giants will either move on from (via trade) or need to upgrade their middle infield positions at some point, and it’s not ridiculous to assume that they just claimed the player who will help them do that.

Then again, as pointed out in the comments not long after this went up, he’s actually out of options, and so whatever magic the Giants’ new development team can work will have to be done in the next few weeks, if not sooner. Unless there’s a trade, the 40-man’s full, and there’s a good chance he’ll be one of the first to go to make room for Jose Iglesias, Edwin Jackson, or, I don’t know, like, Logan Forsythe. But, again, certainly not Bryce Harper.

A quick glance of his Statcast data doesn’t really offer any insights, but that’s why Statcast data will always be incomplete — teams will always have more information. Maybe the team’s scouting and data analysis shows that the 99 mph average exit velocity he posted last season on pitches middle-middle and middle-away aren’t fluky and are sustainable with instruction and more playing time. Given the flurry of activity over the past month, we’ll know the team’s plans for him very soon.

UPDATE: None of this matters.