According to Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLB Trade Rumors, Mike Fontenot and the Giants have agreed to a one-year deal for 2012. This almost certainly guarantees that Jeff Keppinger will be non-tendered, as Brian Sabean had said that it would be one or the other. The Giants definitely made the right decision here: Fontenot is a solid defender at second, and he can play a passable third base/shortstop. His bat, though not particularly special, is pretty useful as well: he’s hit .263/.332/.406 (91 wRC+) over his career, and is coming off a decent season at the plate (.227/.304/.377, 87 wRC+). It might not seem like much, but he was worth one win above replacement in 85 games this year. Not bad for a bench guy. Additionally, as a left-handed hitter, he seems to complement Freddy Sanchez pretty well. Keppinger just wasn’t a good fit.
UPDATE: Confirmation — Fontenot has agreed to a one-year deal; Jeff Keppinger and Eli Whiteside have been non-tendered. The deal is for $1.05MM – very reasonable, and slightly less than I had anticipated.
Buster Posey: When we look back on Posey’s 2011 season, this will inevitably be what we remember. Posey only played in 45 games before the collision, but it’s worth noting that he had quite the impact (considering how few games he played in). Despite not even tallying 200 plate appearances, he finished third on the team in wins above replacement at 1.6; we can’t take too much from his overall numbers (.284/.368/.389), but he showed an improved walk rate (and much less power) when he was healthy. Ideally, the power will come back next season, and Posey will continue to draw more walks. In any event, 2011 for Posey will always ultimately be defined by the Cousins collision.
Hector Sanchez: There’s not much to be said for Sanchez’s time in the majors because it didn’t last all that long. He appeared in a total of 13 games this year, posting a .258/.324/.323 line in 34 plate appearances. Obviously those numbers should be taken with a grain of salt, but as a prospect, Sanchez certainly boosted his status. I ranked him sixth in my prospect rankings (an admittedly aggressive placement).
Eli Whiteside: After taking a regular role in the wake of Posey’s injury, Whiteside was everything the Giants could have expected — which is to say that he was awful. In 236 plate appearances, he hit .197/.264/.310, posting a wRC+ of 55. His defense, too, was pretty awful. Fangraphs had him at slightly above replacement level on the season, while Baseball-Reference had him at -0.5 wins.
This was pretty awesome though. As was his hopping.
Chris Stewart: Stewart proved to be the better of the two (Whiteside/Stewart) as he was actually an asset on defense. Defensive runs saved is an oversimplified evaluation of catcher defense, but it had Stewart at +9 runs above average in ~500 innings of work behind the plate. Matt Klaasen’s more all-encompassing catcher defense ratings had Stewart at +3.2 runs (also quite good). In any event, he — like Whiteside — failed to be productive on offense, putting up a .204/.283/.309 line. For what it’s worth though, he had pretty solid plate discipline (0.89 BB/K) and good contact skills (89%); unfortunately, it just didn’t translate into success for him.
Players and owners are close to finalizing a new labor deal that would bring significant changes to MLB, particularly when it comes to the draft. The deal is expected to have “significant restraints” on draft spending, as well as significant changes to the current system of draft pick compensation. The general reaction is not positive, and for good reason.
In other news…
- File this under “things we pretty much already knew,” but Jon Heyman tweets that there’s “no evidence” that the Giants would trade Tim Lincecum or Matt Cain. Anyway, this was already all but confirmed, especially in the wake of the Jonathan Sanchez trade. I imagine the Giants will extend Matt Cain sometime soon, as that seems to be one of their top priorities as of now.
- Ryan Doumit will likely sign soon with a team; the Giants, who are presumably in the market for a backup catcher (with Eli Whiteside looking like a non-tender candidate), could potentially have interest. According to Jerry Crasnick, one mystery National League team has made an offer to Doumit.
- It’s beginning to look more and more likely that the Giants will go after Clint Barmes, and that wouldn’t be such a bad decision. He’s perhaps the only decent inexpensive shortstop left on the market, and as a solid defender that can lefties, he seems to complement Brandon Crawford well.
- The Giants are probably not in on Japanese centerfielder Nori Aoki.