Reinforcements are officially on the way. Ahead of their series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals, the San Francisco Giants upgraded their roster by reinstating two right-handed hitting outfielders from the Injured List: Mitch Haniger and Austin Slater. Both players have spent the entire season on the IL after missing the bulk of Spring Training with injuries, and both played well in their rehab stints with AAA Sacramento.
Haniger was one of the biggest signings the Giants made over the offseason, agreeing to a three-year, $43.5 million deal with his hometown team. The Giants view him as an everyday player in left field, and hope he’ll perform the way he did in 2021 with the Seattle Mariners, when he hit .253/.318/.485 and bashed 39 home runs.
Slater won’t be an everyday player, but will be the right-handed hitting portion of the center field platoon with Mike Yastrzemski, while also provide plus defense and baserunning off the bench. He’s been a lefty crusher the last few years, and has some of the best pinch-hit numbers in MLB history.
For a little while now we’ve been wondering what the team would do when Haniger and Slater returned. It seemed obvious that Brett Wisely would be optioned, and he was. But what would the other move be? Optioning David Villar? DFA’ing Darin Ruf?
The reality ended up a little simple. The Giants simply put Ruf on the 10-day IL, citing wrist inflammation. San Francisco has developed a reputation for using the IL a little more liberally than most teams, which certainly helps them with roster crunches.
What remains to be seen is when Slater will play in the field. There were questions about his readiness to throw at full strength, and he’ll hit leadoff on Monday from the designated hitter position, with Yastrzemski playing in center. Haniger will play left field and bat third.
The addition of Haniger and Slater should help the Giants fix their issue of being one of the worst teams in baseball against left-handed pitchers. By wRC+, the Giants have been the fourth-best offensive team in baseball against righties, hitting .248/.342/.455, for a .797 OPS and a 120 wRC+ mark that trails only the Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers, and Los Angeles Dodgers.
But help is on the way.