SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants announced a one-year deal with catcher Nick Hundley on Tuesday, giving them a veteran backup behind Buster Posey.
Hundley received a Major League deal worth about $2 million, putting him in pole position in the battle to be the second catcher. The 33-year-old has spent nine seasons in the big leagues, the majority of them with the Padres. He hit .260 with 10 homers last season with the Rockies.
“His experience overall brings added value to our club,” general manager Bobby Evans said, noting that Hundley is very familiar with the NL West. “The attractive elements of his game and experience bring needed depth for us.”
Hundley getting a Major League deal means he’s almost certainly ticketed for an opening day job, ousting incumbent Trevor Brown, who spent all of 2016 in the big leagues. Brown hit .237 with five homers in his first full big league season, but the Giants had quietly been looking for a more experienced option who could allow Brown — 25 years old and still relatively new to catching — to get additional seasoning in Triple-A.
The Giants have not fully ruled out carrying three catchers. Brown, who was drafted as an infielder, occasionally takes ground balls at second and third, and there has been some discussion about a more varied role.
“It is with some mixed feelings about how much to move him around off catching because catching is a very complex and difficult challenge,” Evans said. “When you move him around you don’t want to take away from what he’s doing behind the plate and at the same time you don’t want him to get hurt at another position. But (manager Bruce Bochy) and I have discussed the fact that we’ll look at him more at different positions this spring than we have in the past because we appreciate the value that he brings.”
The Giants have spent all offseason looking to add a third catcher to the mix, and if Brown is in Triple-A, they will have a third catcher on the 40-man roster who can be optioned back and forth. There will be veterans in camp on non-roster deals, including Tim Federowicz, but opt-out clauses may leave the depth chart short when the regular season arrives.
In Hundley, the Giants have an option who should provide a little pop off the bench and lessen the drop off when Posey gets a day off. Evans said this move does not indicate that Posey will get additional rest or time at first base in 2017. He caught a career-high 122 games in 2016, winning his first Gold Glove Award.
“The more we can keep Buster behind the plate and healthy, the stronger our team is,” Evans said. “The ideal is to keep him back there as much as possible and 120 (games) is a very fair target.”
Hundley, a native of the Northwest, is the second player signed to a big league deal this offseason, joining new closer Mark Melancon. The Giants do not expect to make another move of significance. To clear a 40-man roster spot, Ehire Adrianza was designated for assignment. If the Giants can’t line up a minor trade, Adrianza will return to the organization.