Gerardo Parra

Giants roster turnover in 2019 was historic, but led to some keepers

tyleraustinusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Giants roster turnover in 2019 was historic, but led to some keepers

SAN FRANCISCO -- When Giants fans think of 2019, many may remember Connor Joe and Michael Reed as Opening Day starters. 

But will you recall that Tyler Austin got 130 at-bats? Or that Scooter Gennett and Yangervis Solarte combined for 49 appearances? How about Corban Joseph's 17 times up at the plate, or Nick Vincent's day as the opener?

It was a season of experimentation, and that's kind of what was expected when Farhan Zaidi took over last November. He talked right away of trying to find incremental gains from every corner of the roster and giving players the runway to prove they were big leaguers. That all led to some historic roster manipulation, though.

The Giants ended up using 64 different players, which was second in MLB history to only the 2019 Mariners (67). They shattered their previous franchise record of 51 players used by the 1990 team and used 15 more players than the 2017 squad that lost 98 games and was in a constant search for answers. 

The amazing thing about all this is that the Giants were actually tied with the Reds for the fewest injured list days in the National League, so they weren't trying to fill holes for that reason. They were simply looking for contributors and to bolster their big league and Triple-A rosters, which led to some short stints in San Francisco:

--- Only four Giants got more than 500 plate appearances, but 15 different players got at least 100. The tier below is where there were really some random 2019 Giants. Gennett, Joey Rickard, Yangervis Solarte and Gerardo Parra are among the players who got between 50 and 100 plate appearances for this team. 

--- Eight different position players took the field but got fewer than 25 total plate appearances: Cristhian Adames, Chris Shaw, Joseph, Zach Green, Joe, Abiatal Avelino (what a costly run through a stop sign that was), Reed and one more outfielder we'll get to shortly. 

--- The Giants had 33 different players throw a pitch, including Pablo Sandoval, who led the team in ERA (0.00). Familiar faces Ray Black and Ty Blach made two appearances apiece, the same number as Pat Venditte, the first player to sign a big-league deal under Zaidi. 

--- Twelve different pitchers made a start. The 2017 Giants had just seven starters. 

--- The most interesting line of the year, as mentioned above: Outfielder Aaron Altherr was claimed off waivers, struck out in one at-bat, and then got DFA'd again. He ended up batting .129 for the Mets. 

--- There were so many guys to come through the door, but all that churn led to some keepers. Mike Yastrzemski broke through and should be a starter next year. Donovan Solano and Alex Dickerson should have roles, too. None of them were with the Giants on Opening Day.

[RELATED: Bart showcased star potential in AFL]

There were plenty of new or young pitchers who showed enough to be in the mix next season, including Trevor Gott, Sam Coonrod, Jandel Gustave, Tyler Rogers, Wandy Peralta and Enderson Franco. 

Giving guys an opportunity led to some strange roster moves but paid off in the long run. 

Former Giant Gerardo Parra finds home with Nationals in World Series

parrausatsi.jpg
USATSI

Former Giant Gerardo Parra finds home with Nationals in World Series

SAN FRANCISCO -- Nationals manager Dave Martinez answered nine questions during his press conference last week after the Nationals beat the Cardinals and clinched a spot in the World Series. By far the longest response came when Martinez was asked about a player who started this season with the Giants. 

Gerardo Parra was supposed to be a temporary outfield solution for the Giants, but he was designated for assignment on May 3, clearing a spot for Mike Gerber, who had gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. In Washington D.C., Parra has been exactly what the Giants hoped they were getting. 

The 32-year-old outfielder's stats don't jump off the page. He had a .747 OPS and eight homers in the regular season after catching on with the Nationals, who gave him 204 at-bats, about twice what he ended up getting in San Francisco. But Parra's energy has made a difference for a team that was 19-31 but recovered to take down the rest of the National League. 

The Giants at one point hoped to see the same in their own dugout. Parra and Yangervis Solarte were brought in during spring training and immediately injected a bit more life into a clubhouse that has too often relied solely on Pablo Sandoval's liveliness. They were popular in the clubhouse, serving as mentors for younger players and dancing in the dugout even as the Giants got off to a slow start. When the two were let go in early May, Bruce Bochy repeatedly called them "great guys." But the Giants couldn't justify any more at-bats for veterans in a season going nowhere. 

"As a player, it's a game of production," Bochy said at the time. 

The Nationals had plenty of it in their lineup, and Parra and others have helped keep the clubhouse on course during a surprise run. The Nationals dispatched of the Brewers, Dodgers and Cardinals and will begin the World Series tonight in Houston. 

Parra has just three at-bats during the postseason, but a late pinch-hit appearance in the NLCS clincher was one of the more memorable moments of the series. As they have done since Parra changed his walk-up music to "Baby Shark" in June, Nationals fans erupted when the veteran outfielder was announced. 

Martinez later joked that he only put Parra in the game to get the fans going in a tense spot. 

"What he's done in that clubhouse has really changed the way these guys go about their business," Martinez told reporters. "I mean, it was business ... he made it fun for this team."

The Giants hoped to latch on to that, but Parra served another purpose, as well. President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi brought in several well-liked veterans on cheap non-guaranteed deals to try and keep the lineup afloat until reinforcements could arrive from Triple-A. 

Gerber was not the answer, and Mac Williamson's ensuing cameo didn't work either. But eventually most of the at-bats ticketed for Parra ended up being given to Mike Yastrzemski, a revelation who can serve as a full-time starter moving forward. 

That was never going to be Parra's role in San Francisco, but the Giants did try to work him in early as a versatile defender who could provide some production from the left side. It was impossible to keep him around, though, when he started the year with a .198 average through 30 games. 

Parra caught on with the Nationals shortly after the move and it couldn't have worked out better. He'll be in the dugout during a World Series game tonight, wearing his tinted sunglasses and giving massive hugs to young teammates and generally serving as a key glue guy for Martinez. Perhaps at some point over the next week, the Baby Shark routine will take over a key moment of the World Series. 

As he celebrated a pennant last week, Martinez recalled how Parra had met with him during a slump shortly after he joined the Nationals. The veteran was down because he wasn't hitting, but Martinez implored him to just bring energy, play loud music in the clubhouse, and keep pumping up a young team that had gotten off to a disappointing start. That's a message Bochy has given to Sandoval at times. 

[RELATED: Mark Kotsay enters Giants manager interviews as favorite]

"After that, he started hitting again, and he came back to my office a few days later and he goes, 'Hey, thank you. I didn't realize that I need to have fun, too,'" Martinez recalled. "I said, yeah, hey, bring it every day ... it's what you bring on and off the field that I care about, and he's that guy. Those guys up there, every one of his teammates love him -- love him. All the fans love him. He's just that guy. He's the Parra Shark."

MLB rumors: Gerardo Parra, ex-Giants outfielder, signing with Nationals

MLB rumors: Gerardo Parra, ex-Giants outfielder, signing with Nationals

Gerardo Parra quickly found a new home after his time with the Giants came to an end. 

Parra agreed to a major league deal with the Washington Nationals, MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported Wednesday morning. 

The Giants designated Parra for assignment on May 3 to clear a roster spot for outfielder Mike Gerber. Parra cleared waivers and elected free agency, while Gerber was sent back down to Triple-A Sacramento on Tuesday after a 1-for-15 stint with the Giants. 

Parra, who turned 32 on May 6, signed a minor league deal with the Giants in February. The veteran outfielder was coming off a season where he hit .284 with six home runs and 11 stolen bases with the Rockies, but struggled mightily in his short time as a Giant. 

[RELATED: Williamson's loud return adds 'fear factor' to Giants lineup]

Over 30 games, Parra hit just .198 with a .546 OPS. He's a .277 career hitter and has twice won a Gold Glove Award. 

In 31 games played at Nationals Park, Parra has a .275 batting average with a .674 OPS.