I’ll be honest: when Farhan Zaidi took over as president of baseball operations for the San Francisco Giants, I thought Steven Duggar’s time with the organization was over. Duggar was — like every player in the organization when Zaidi first arrived — a product of the prior regime, and he didn’t seem like someone who fit what Zaidi was looking for.
Duggar was fresh off his debut season in 2018, and he had posted a sub-.700 OPS, struck out 4.4 times for every walk, and hit just 2 home runs in 152 plate appearances.
The Giants haven’t developed a quality homegrown outfielder since the 19th century, and I put Duggar in the same box as Mac Williamson and Chris Shaw when it came to front office evaluation. Williamson, we all remember, was placed at the bottom of the outfield pecking order when Zaidi took over, and designated for assignment after a rough spell in 2019. Shaw hung around longer, but didn’t receive an invite to Summer Camp last year — despite being on the 40-man roster — and was dropped when the team needed space for the Rule 5 Draft protections.
And yet Duggar remained.
He hasn’t played well in that time, accruing negative WAR in each of the last two seasons. But he’s hung around, received numerous call-ups, and stayed on the 40-man roster as countless other players have been DFA’d to open up space. Between their own Rule 5 protections and players acquired in trades and signings, the Giants have put 15 new players on the 40-man roster this offseason, and Duggar has avoided being the corresponding move every single time.
Clearly he’s doing something right, and so far this spring that something has been on display, as Duggar is hitting 3-12 with 2 home runs, 1 stolen base, and 4 walks to 7 strikeouts, presumably while still playing nice defense.
It’s been pretty!
Barring some surprising developments, Duggar doesn’t seem to have much of a path to the Opening Day roster. The Giants are likely to have a five-player outfield, and it seems as though it will come from the six-headed monster of Mike Yastrzmeski, Mauricio Dubón, Austin Slater, LaMonte Wade Jr., Alex Dickerson, and Darin Ruf.
That would leave Duggar to fight Luis Alexander Basabe and Jaylin Davis for the right to be the first outfielder called up, while Heliot Ramos watches in the wings.
But there will be call-ups. My goodness there will be call-ups. There are always call-ups with this crew.
The question is, does Duggar find himself at the top of those call-ups, as a player the team is eager to get on the field? Or is he the taxi squad insurance that he offered last year, able to fill in in a pinch without any hopes of developing into an asset? Or worse yet, is he a player on the periphery of the dreaded DFA call, and has just somehow managed to avoid it thus far?
It’s still unclear, but it seems obvious that the front office values Duggar more than it initially appeared.