Aramis Garcia

Minor league catcher Tyler Heineman says he has signed with Giants

Minor league catcher Tyler Heineman says he has signed with Giants

The big names get all the attention this time of year, but front offices also are busy filling minor holes on their organization's depth chart, and it seems the Giants did so recently with the addition of a minor league catcher. 

Tyler Heineman, a 28-year-old catcher, announced that he signed a deal with the club. Heineman has played eight professional seasons and had a five-game cup of coffee with the Miami Marlins last season. 

Minor league additions in January generally don't move the needle much, but Heineman actually could be an interesting name to watch in spring training. The Giants expect top prospect Joey Bart to make his big league debut sometime this summer, but after Stephen Vogt signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks, team officials indicated that adding another veteran catcher was not a priority. Aramis Garcia is the incumbent and the favorite to back up Buster Posey, but Heineman brings an intriguing profile. 

First and foremost, Heineman is the rare switch-hitting catcher, and he had more success from the left side last season, which could give him a leg up in the competition to replace Vogt, who also was a left-handed hitter. Heineman had a 1.061 OPS against right-handed pitchers in Triple-A last season.

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Heineman had a .990 OPS in Triple-A for the Diamondbacks and Marlins, with 13 homers and just 35 strikeouts in 273 plate appearances. The Giants have been looking for catching depth, not just behind Posey, but at the Triple-A level. The plan is to start Bart in Triple-A, and they need a more experienced catcher to pair with him. 

MLB free agency: Giants might look to upgrade in these three areas

MLB free agency: Giants might look to upgrade in these three areas

SAN FRANCISCO -- For the first time in 13 years, the Giants spent the beginning of their offseason hiring a new manager, but that wasn't the only heavy lifting president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi and the rest of the front office had to do.

A new general manager, Scott Harris, also was hired, and since Harris and manager Gabe Kapler came on, the organization has spent weeks putting together a young coaching staff

Now comes an even more tedious job. The Giants need to seriously upgrade their roster. Zaidi, Harris and Kapler sat down with the media on Monday afternoon and had their first opportunity to lay out some of that vision, and during the half-hour session, they hit on three spots that stand out as obvious holes.  

Infield Depth

At least on paper, the Giants are set here. Brandon Crawford and Evan Longoria will start on the left side, Mauricio Dubon should enter camp as the second baseman, and Donovan Solano was signed to a one-year deal in November. But three of those four hitters are right-handed. 

"We're still looking at options to add infield depth," Zaidi said. "We've talked a little bit about (how) a left-handed bat might make more sense ... but we're not limiting ourselves to that. When you get to the middle infield it's always nice to have depth and those guys can always obviously move around to the corners."

Adding another middle infielder could allow the Giants to push Dubon to center field, something they discussed before non-tendering Kevin Pillar and continue to assess, Zaidi said. At the very least, the Giants figure to add a left-handed bat who can play third.

Pablo Sandoval is a free agent and out for most of 2020 (although he did get married over the weekend with plenty of former teammates -- including Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, Mike Yastrzemski and Bruce Bochy -- in attendance).

A Bat In The Outfield

While the Giants are right-handed on the infield, they're awfully left-handed when you get to the outfield. Yastrzemski, Alex Dickerson and Steven Duggar might be the three Giants currently locked in for the most playing time out there, although Austin Slater and Jaylin Davis are both right-handed. 

Enter Nicholas Castallanos? Maybe. The Giants are interested in the right-handed slugger, and he could be the jewel of their offseason. Either way, a right-handed bat is high on the wish list. 

"With the extra roster spot next year, there's always a possibility to do a little bit more matching up, so you want to have balance on all parts of your roster," Zaidi said. 

Yastrzemski actually crushed lefties last year but Dickerson was just 4-for-21, so the Giants will certainly try to add another platoon option for one of the corner spots. 

Veteran Catcher

A year after they let Nick Hundley move on, the Giants watched Stephen Vogt sign with the Diamondbacks. It's a move that stings, because Vogt was a clubhouse leader and a left-handed hitter who had almost formed a platoon with Buster Posey by the end of the season. 

You would think the Giants would want another veteran in the mix, especially because they went so far -- remember Erik Kratz? -- to keep Aramis Garcia off the opening day roster last year. But Zaidi said that's not necessarily the case. 

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"We'd like to see him get an opportunity," Zaidi said of Garcia. "He's putting in a lot of work this offseason and he's a guy we would like to see get an opportunity as well. I guess we're not closed off to (adding) but we have some good young catching depth and at some point we want to create opportunities for these guys."

Garcia, who turns 27 in January, is more than capable of backing up Posey and he's playing Winter Ball this year to prepare himself. The Giants also have top prospect Joey Bart on the fast track, so this is one area where perhaps there's no need to put another veteran in the room with Posey. 

Giants vs. Padres lineups: Aramis Garcia starts at first base in finale


Giants vs. Padres lineups: Aramis Garcia starts at first base in finale

The Giants made their first wave up September call-ups Sunday, bringing up Chris Shaw, Aramis Garcia, Conner Menez and Burch Smith.

One of those call-ups, Garcia, will get the nod Sunday in the Giants' series finale against the San Diego Padres at Oracle Park.

Garcia will play first base and bat seventh in the Sunday matinee as the Giants look to avenge their Saturday night loss to the Friars. 

Jeff Samardzija will get the ball for Bruce Bochy's club, while the Padres will counter with left-hander Eric Lauer.

Coverage begins with Pregame Live at noon on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming on the My Teams app.

San Francisco Giants (66-69)
Donovan Solano, 2B
Austin Slater, RF
Kevin Pillar, CF
Evan Longoria, 3B
Joey Rickard, LF
Stephen Vogt, C
Aramis Garcia, 1B
Brandon Crawford, SS
Jeff Samardzija, RHP (9-10, 3.38 ERA)

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San Diego Padres (63-72)
Greg Garcia, SS
Nick Martini, LF
Manny Machado, 3B
Eric Hosmer, 1B
Josh Naylor, RF
Wil Myers, CF
Austin Allen, C
Ty France, 2B
Eric Lauer, LHP (7-8, 4.48 ERA)