NBC Sports

What Giants' offseason moves mean for Dubon's future role

NBC Sports

Farhan Zaidi and Scott Harris have found Gabe Kapler a couple of rotation reinforcements, help for the bullpen, a veteran backup catcher, and now, a left-handed bat to soak up at-bats at second and third. But Kapler's day-to-day focus isn't on the players who soon will be coming into the building, it's on the ones who are already here. 

Kapler regularly touches base with members of his roster, and often that process is simply exchanging videos of workouts. For some players, that means reminding Kapler and the rest of the coaches that they are getting in better shape. For Mauricio Dubon, it's meant constant reminders that he is, as Kapler put it last month, adding "some armor."

Dubon made it a goal this offseason to add weight to a slim frame, and he recently showed some of the progress:

Dubon will never be bulky, but the front office and coaching staff sent him into the offseason with a plan to gain strength, which quite literally has included, as Dubon tweeted, being hungry. On the Giants' YouTube show, Dubon said he is eating 4,000 calories a day and staying in constant contact with Giants strength coach Brad Lawson and their director of performance nutrition, Leron Sarig. 

Kapler said Dubon "looks physical" and "his body is moving well," but as camp approaches, there's still some question about where the new-look Dubon will line up every night. 

 

The Giants spent much of last offseason talking up Dubon's abilities as a super-utility player, hoping he could be their Kiké Hernandez or Chris Taylor. Dubon did technically play second, short and center field, but he quietly became an everyday center fielder over the second half of the 60-game season.

After August 15, Dubon's infield glove never came out of the bag. He didn't even move around the outfield grass, making 35 consecutive appearances in center to finish his first full season in the big leagues. 

In their offseason shuffling, the Giants have not yet added an outfielder, although they hope to bring in a left-handed option capable of playing center field. What they have done is sign an infielder, Tommy La Stella, who will further soak up at-bats at second base and third. 

Where does that leave Dubon? Kapler last spoke to reporters more than a month before the La Stella news leaked, but the Giants have been chasing him all offseason, so it was noteworthy that Kapler said in December that he still wants Dubon to prepare to move around. 

"I think in his mind he would love to settle in and be a regular center fielder, but also it is really valuable to a club, and also frankly for Mauricio's career, to be able to play multiple positions," Kapler said during the "virtual" winter meetings.

"I know this is a point of contention and a point of conversation, is it best for him to stick in the infield, play second base regularly, play shortstop regularly -- but what he's demonstrated is he can play second, he can play shortstop, he can play third base, and he can play all three positions in the outfield. 

"That's a really valuable tool for a player and it's also a great way to stick at the major league level. If you're asking Mauricio what the most important thing is to him, it would likely be staying a major leaguer and thriving as a major leaguer, and being able to move around probably gives him his best chance to do so."

Even with La Stella in the fold, it's easy to see how Dubon can still move around. The Giants appear set to carry six infielders, but none are solid options to play short other than Brandon Crawford.

Dubon could see some reps there, as well as at third if Evan Longoria misses time, as Donovan Solano and Wilmer Flores looked out of place when they tried the hot corner early last season. 

A lot rides on how the Giants fill out the rest of their roster. Jackie Bradley Jr. is the only option on the free agent market who could really bump Dubon from the starting job in center right now, but the Giants could swing a trade to shake up their outfield alignment. Dubon said he's working out at second, short and center this offseason, keeping that versatility, but if the Giants once again need him to lead the way in the middle of the outfield, which appears to be the case, he'll be ready. 

 
RELATED: Mauricio Dubon is adding muscle, and looks headed for more outfield time

Dubon got better and better out there, and he has always been enthusiastic about taking on the new position. 

"It's crazy, I worked my whole life to be a big-league shortstop and in two months they told me to be a big-league center fielder," he said on the YouTube show. "I enjoy shortstop, but playing as a big-league center fielder is a lot of fun, especially with those guys in front of me. It's crazy how the game comes to you and how impactful you can be in center field. The same with short, but center field for me, it's been really fun playing out there."