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Giants sign outfielder Mitch Haniger

Haniger received a two-year deal with a third-year option.

Mitch Haniger running onto the field Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The San Francisco Giants are officially in the offseason game, with their first big signing of the year. It’s not the outfielder that they were rumored to sign on Tuesday (though there’s still time), but it’s a nice move nonetheless, as they agreed to a contract with right-handed hitting outfielder Mitch Haniger.

It’s a unique three-year deal for Haniger, who can opt out after the second year. He’ll receive just $5 million in 2023, but $17 million in the second year of the contract. Should he opt into the final year of the deal, it will be for $15.5 million. A $6 million signing bonus is also part of the contract, as is a $1 million trade kicker. As part of his contract details, Haniger will be donating some of his salary to the Giants Community Fund.

Signing Haniger does not take the Giants out of the running for Aaron Judge. In fact, Ken Rosenthal reports that the Giants plan for the outseason all along was to sign the two outfielders. Halfway there, Giants!

The Giants are sticking with a homegrown theme, as Haniger was born in Mountain View and was a standout athlete at Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose. The 31 year old has played six seasons in the Majors, and he’s been comfortably above average with his bat in the last five.

Last year he hit .246/.308/.429 (113 wRC+), but injuries cut his season short. His best year came in 2018, when he hit .285/.366/.493 (137 wRC+), and was worth 4.8 fWAR. Haniger hit 39 home runs in 2021, which should excite Giants fans. He’s a decent defensive outfielder, though limited to the corners.

Haniger has hit right-handed pitchers well, sporting a career .795 OPS against righties, and an .853 OPS when he has the handedness advantage. Between those numbers and the size of the contract, it’s safe to assume the Giants plan to use him as an everyday player. If they land Judge, they’ll have two everyday players in the outfield, which is a dramatic change of pace from what they’ve done over the last few years. That would allow them to platoon the final outfield position, and play Austin Slater against lefties and Mike Yastrzemski against righties. With Joc Pederson and Thairo Estrada able to play the outfield in a pinch, the Giants wouldn’t even need to carry a fifth outfielder.

The vision for the team is starting to come into focus, though so much hinges on Judge, who was reported earlier on Tuesday to have decided on the Giants, only to have the report redacted.