Exactly one year ago, 28-year old Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett was in the middle of his first All-Star season, with a line of .316/.368./.506. He had 17 home runs to that and was continuing a rise to prominence that really kicked into gear the previous June, when he famously hit four home runs in a game.
He hit 27 in 2017 and added six more to that half-season total cited above, and both seasons followed a 14-homer campaign with the Brewers, in 2016. They were the team that drafted him and they were the team that put him on waivers at the end of spring training in 2017. Their cut was the Reds’ gain, but after missing the first three months of this season with a prolonged groin injury, he’s now the castoff of another team.
That’s where the Giants come in.
In 69 plate appearances since his return, he’s hitting just .212/.232./.258. The ugliness is made clear by his 20 strikeouts to 1 walk. He’s also a free agent at year’s end. Taken together, it’s clear why the Giants were able to get him for basically nothing. Maybe he continues to hit this poorly, but it won’t matter because he costs nothing.
But just in case he does start to put it together, the Giants have him. And just in case the Giants continue their winning ways, they have perhaps an upgrade over Joe Panik, at least in the hitting department. For his career, he’s been just a bit below average at second base.
He can also play the outfield, though, and so the positional flexibility coupled with the power potential and the next to nothing acquisition cost made him an almost irresistible “just in case” pickup. Farhan Zaidi also cited his solid road splits as a sign that his power will play anywhere, provided he’s able to regain his slugging form.
This is the kind of management I can get behind. The tear it all down and rebuild model of team building is boring and it’s needlessly painful. Sure, maybe the Giants won’t win 85 games this season, but they made a move that won’t hurt them just in case they’re still able to keep this improbable playoff push alive.
Now there’s just the matter of Joe Panik’s spot on the 25-man roster. That’s an open question now after this move and this morning’s addition of Mauricio Dubon. As Zaidi just said on KNBR, “We’ll have to take it day-to-day.”