All is well in Giants land, but there is a little bit of a conundrum for the brain trust: what does the team do about Joey Bart?
I’ll be honest for a second. When the Giants broke camp with Bart looking like the primary catcher, and then a day later signed Gary Sánchez to a Minor League deal, I did not expect these to be the team’s home run totals from their catchers a week into June:
Blake Sabol — 7
Patrick Bailey — 2
Everyone else — 0
In a season of weirdness, this might be the most unpredictable thing that has happened on the Giants roster.
Bart’s power has gone mysteriously absent, as Yasi documented the other day. Going back to last year, Bart is currently riding a 44-game homerless streak. And it’s not like he’s just become a doubles machine ... he only has only a handful of two-baggers during that time. In fact, over those last 44 games he’s hitting a mere 24-124 with 0 home runs, 0 triples, 5 doubles, 7 walks, and 45 strikeouts.
His defense is good enough that he’s been a passable player nonetheless, and it’s still early enough to be patient — he hasn’t even had 500 plate appearances in his career.
But it’s also time to wonder what the Giants plans are.
We’ve already gotten a little bit of a glimpse. Thairo Estrada just returned from the IL without a rehab appearance. Joc Pederson just returned after being sidelined for three and a half weeks, and only had one rehab appearance. And while those two were gathering huge hits during Thursday’s game, Bart was with AAA Sacramento, playing in his sixth rehab game (he’s 2-21 with no extra-base hits, no walks, and 11 strikeouts).
Perhaps that signals a lack of faith in Bart, or perhaps it signals a lack of place to put him. The Giants would have to commit to three catchers if Bart is activated: Blake Sabol can’t be optioned and he’s playing too well to get rid of, and Patrick Bailey, in just 16 games, is already eighth in the National League among catcher WAR ... with 0.3 more WAR than Willson Contreras (who signed an $87.5 million contract over the offseason), and 1.7 more WAR than Austin Barnes (I just wanted to point out that a Dodger already has -1.0 WAR).
If Bart is to return, where would the Giants put him? There are no position players who the Giants can stand to lose right now, and they can’t shorten the bullpen with two starters sidelined. Even if an injury forces things, would Bart be the top choice? An injured outfielder probably spells the MLB debut of Luis Matos. Maybe an injured infielder opens up a spot for Bart, but maybe it just means Brett Wisely is back.
Bart does have options remaining, so the Giants can turn to that after his rehab time is up. But is optioning a 26 year old former top prospect who was the Opening Day starter a year ago what they want to do? Or would it be time to just end the partnership at that point?
My boss once told me to not pose a question in a headline unless you answer it in the body of the article, but here I am: I don’t know what the Joey Bart plan is.
I’m hoping that you do.
What time do the Giants play today?
The Giants kick off a series with the Chicago Cubs tonight at 7:15 p.m. PT.