According to Jon Heyman, the Giants have signed infielder Ryan Theriot to a one-year contract worth $1.25M, with up to $750K in incentives. With Theriot in the picture, Brett Pill will presumably be starting the year in Triple-A Fresno. Josh mentioned Theriot as a potential platoon shortstop option back in November.
At first glance, Theriot’s a very uninspired signing. He’s coming off a .271/.321/.342 (84 wRC+) season, and he’s never been much of a hitter. His 2011 numbers, in fact, aren’t all that far off from his career numbers (.282/.344/.353, 86 wRC+). His defense is probably passable, but his defensive shortcomings are quite evident as well. As an everyday player, Theriot is mediocre at best; there’s a reason he’s amassed all of 0.6 wins above replacement over the past two seasons.
Theriot has his uses, however. The Giants’ shortstop depth chart currently reads Brandon Crawford and Mike Fontenot, in order. Both Crawford and Fontenot are left-handed hitters, and Emmanuel Burriss (career .636 OPS v. LHPs), isn’t exactly going to be reliable against southpaws. Theriot, as mediocre as he is with the bat, can hold his own against lefties, with a career line of .301/.373/.401, 107 wRC+. Of particular intrigue are his plate discipline splits — 9.9% BB rate, 6.8% K rate. He’ll put the ball in play with exceptional frequency, and he’ll get on base.
Theriot shouldn’t be penned into the lineup on a daily basis, but if utilized correctly (or even semi-correctly), he’ll do enough with the bat and the glove to bring some value to the team. He’s slightly worse than Jeff Keppinger at the plate, half as expensive as Keppinger would have been, and a much better defender. Anyway, solid deal.