Per Baseball America’s Matt Eddy, the Giants have signed 1B Michael Morse, OF Justin Ruggiano, and C/1B Josmil Pinto to minor league deals.
Morse, who turns 35 in March, is well known to Giants fans for his successful one year run with the team in 2014. (Also, for this home run which resulted in me nearly jumping through the roof.) The Giant signed Morse to a one-year, $6M deal heading into 2014 and were rewarded with a .279/.336/.475 slash. In 2014, Morse appeared in 131 games for the Giants — the 2nd most games appeared for the slugger in his career. With Morse, that’s the rub; he’s normally hurt. However, what Morse does bring to the Giants is some sweet, sweet memories and the ability to really hit baseballs far. He’s a large human that, when healthy, is an above average hitter. Positionally, Morse is below average wherever he plays, but in a scenario with the Giants in which he made the team, he would fill the role of Huge Person That Hits Home Runs Off The Bench.
Ruggiano, who turns 35 in April, profiles, in some ways, like Michael Morse; he’s a talented ballplayer that has had issues staying healthy. He appeared in just nine games in 2016 due to shoulder and hamstring issues. Teams have been rewarded when Ruggiano has managed to stay on the field. His average WAR per 162 games played is a respectable 1.8 wins. He also fills a need on the Giants in that he crushes LHP (137 career wRC+). He’s played some centerfield in his career but these days he’s more of a left fielder.
Pinto, 28 in March, has appeared in the majors with the Twins and Brewers. In 286 career plate appearances in the majors, Pinto has hit well with a slash of .252/.336/.436 (116 wRC+). Pinto, like Morse and Ruggiano, is a right-handed hitter. You can listen to a scouting take from 2014 on Pinto. Short version: he’s a bat-first catcher. It’s an interesting pick-up for the Giants, but it’s unlikely he’ll see time at the major league level in 2017.
All three players should be viewed as bench options. Ruggiano is probably the most interesting player of the three. He’s a better defender than Morse and he hits LHP quite well which should be the main consideration for a bench position. Morse and Ruggiano both profile as talented but chronically injured players and, at 35 years old, both aren’t great bets to suddenly find good health. Pinto is interesting because of his age and former prospect pedigree. He’s a good addition, if unlikely to see any at-bats with the Giants in the upcoming year.
Depth signings aren’t sexy, but they are needed as teams look to fill out rosters at the upper levels. And, who knows, maybe we’ll see a couple of mashed dingers along the way.