Mac Williamson became the latest roster victim as the Giants designated him for assignment along with catcher Tom Murphy and Alen Hanson as the team finally set its 25-man roster. None of these moves were very surprising — Murphy was only acquired last week and Williamson and Hanson combined for 23 hits, 3 home runs, 6 walks, and 38 strikeouts in 118 plate appearances (.209 / .263 / .336 — or a .599 OPS) this past Spring, but it still stings.
Williamson seemed to have finally figured things out last season after working with a hitting instructor in the offseason. He came up just in time to make some boom noises in Anaheim and really brought the team to life. It looked like the story was going to have a happy ending — the Giants would’ve finally drafted and developed a power hitter. You know what happened.
Concussion setbacks aren’t unusual in professional sports, but the timing of Williamson’s — indeed, his entire injury history — really feels like fate conspiring against him. The Giants made this move at the last minute, though, to maximize the possibility of sneaking him through. In fact, the entire reason they claimed Tom Murphy off of waivers was in hopes of designating him for assignment in hopes of sneaking him through waivers, sending him to the minor leagues and “adding inventory” or depth. Wouldn’t it be great if the Giants were able to do the same with Williamson and a few weeks from now, after the Giants have scored only 12 runs, we’d have another Mac call-up to look forward to?
Clearing waivers seems like a long shot at this point, though. The Diamondbacks just lost Stephen Souza Jr. to a season-ending knee injury and the Padres claimed OF Socrates Brito from them. The Orioles are in need of talent, and even if Williamson’s major league career thus far has been uninspiring, the power potential is there, and maybe in a low-pressure environment and consistent playing time, he’ll unlock that magical consistency power-up.
Tom Murphy (no relation) seems like an interesting backup catcher option because of his power potential — the catching options around the league look bleak, so it’s possible he lands elsewhere just because of the marginal upgrade he might represent to other team (he slugged .600 this spring in 30 at bats and has a .532 slugging percentage in 7 minor league seasons).
I’m hoping Hanson is able to sneak through waivers, too. Even though he did absolutely nothing in the second half of last season and all of this spring to justify a roster spot, it’s hard to argue against his physical tools. He also just turned 26. Useful utility player is his ceiling, and it’s probably his 95th+ percentile projection, but dang it, I want to see if he can come close to that while in the Giants’ organization.
In any case, the Giants have set their Opening Day roster, and it’s a doozy. Not quite what you’d expect after earnest pursuit of Bryce Harper, but definitely in line with what you’d expect if you knew at the beginning of the offseason that the Giants were preparing to soft tank and soft rebuild.
Watch, this team goes out and wins three out of four and proves that we know nothing about baseball.