Kelby Tomlinson

Former Giants infielder Kelby Tomlinson quickly finds new home in NL West

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Former Giants infielder Kelby Tomlinson quickly finds new home in NL West

SAN FRANCISCO -- Farhan Zaidi plans to overhaul the Giants’ 40-man roster, which means plenty of additions but also a number of familiar faces signing elsewhere.

Two players who were taken off the roster before the new president of baseball operations arrived already have found new homes.

Kelby Tomlinson, a longtime backup infielder, signed a minor league deal with the Diamondbacks, per Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com. Casey Kelly, who made a cameo in the Giants’ rotation last season, announced on his Instagram page that he'll play in South Korea next season. 

Tomlinson played in 273 games over parts of four seasons with the Giants before they outrighted him off the roster in October to clear a 40-man spot. He had a .265/.331/.332 slash line while playing all over the infield and occasionally filling in as a left fielder.

Tomlinson was a bit of a fan favorite, and his specs became a rallying cry on social media when he contributed. He also was a favorite of Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who called him Tommy Ball this season. 

[RELATED: How Giants prospect Abiatal Avelino fits Zaidi player prototype]

Zaidi likely will add more versatility to the roster this offseason, but the Giants already have two players who had passed Tomlinson on the depth chart. Alen Hanson is a good bet for the Opening Day roster next season, and Abiatal Avelino saw some time in September. 

Kelly, a former top prospect, filled in for the Giants late in the year and had a 3.04 ERA in seven appearances. The 29-year-old will play for the LG Twins in the KBO next season. 

Giants cut Kelby Tomlinson, four more from 40-man roster before MLB offseason

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Giants cut Kelby Tomlinson, four more from 40-man roster before MLB offseason

SAN FRANCISCO -- With five players set to come off the 60-day DL, the Giants on Monday parted ways with some familiar names. Five players were outrighted off the 40-man roster, clearing the way for the Giants to add Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Julian Fernandez back to the 40-man roster, as they had to before the start of the offseason. 

Infielder Chase d'Arnaud and right-hander Casey Kelly were outrighted and elected to become free agents. Infielders Kelby Tomlinson and Miguel Gomez became minor-league free agents. Tyler Herb was outrighted to Triple-A and remains with the organization. 

Tomlinson saw the most time of the group, playing 273 games for the Giants over the past four seasons. But he hit .207 in 2018 and was passed on the depth chart by Alen Hanson and Abiatal Avelino. 

Kelly and d'Arnaud contributed in the second half, but neither would have been in the Opening Day plans next season. D'Arnaud was eligible for arbitration and the Giants did not plan to bring him back at a higher price. Gomez was once viewed as a promising switch-hitting prospect, but his bat has not developed as hoped and the Giants do not believe he has a defensive position. 

The Giants will have to make further 40-man cuts over the next six weeks as they protect players from the Rule 5 draft and potentially add free agents. 

Giants Review: Kelby Tomlinson's season was busy in wrong kind of way

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Giants Review: Kelby Tomlinson's season was busy in wrong kind of way

SAN FRANCISCO — At some point during spring training, Giants manager Bruce Bochy responded to a question about Kelby Tomlinson by excitedly shouting: “Tommy Ball!” It was a nickname that stuck. Unfortunately for Tomlinson, he could not find a way to stick in the majors. 

Tomlinson is the latest to be profiled in this series of recaps — if you missed it, here are Joe Panik and Ray Black from yesterday — but his season is best described in an odd way. The most memorable part of 2018 for Tomlinson was just how often he was called up and sent back down. Tomlinson was on the Opening Day roster, which stood as the first of six different stints in the big leagues. Here’s the rundown: 

  • Opening Day to June 1
  • June 18-21
  • July 4-5
  • July 15-26
  • July 30-August 4
  • September 2 through the end 


Hopefully they let him keep the miles. 

What Went Right: There are not a lot of splits that stand out from a year during which Tomlinson batted just .207, but he did get off to a hot start, posting a .714 OPS in April. And he did do some damage against the rival Dodgers, picking up six hits in 19 at-bats and driving in three runs. Tomlinson’s .316 average against the Dodgers was second on the team to Gregor Blanco (.455). 

Tomlinson played 35 games at second base, 13 at shortstop and three at third base. It’s a small sample size, but he appeared to be more comfortable on the left side of the infield than in past seasons. 

What Went Wrong: Tomlinson’s short swing made him a valuable pinch-hitter in past seasons, but he was just 2-for-19 as a pinch-hitter in 2018 with one extra-base hit. His OPS against left-handed pitchers dipped to .523, keeping him from being a platoon option. It was a particularly rough ride down the stretch; Tomlinson was 1-for-16 in September. 

The constant travel roster moves are interesting if you’re an observer, but it’s not something Tomlinson or any player would want. He could never quite replicate what kept him in the big leagues in the past. In addition to the issues against lefties and pinch-hitting, Tomlinson failed to steal a base for the first time in four big league seasons. After going 9-for-10 in 2017, Tomlinson was caught in both attempts in 2018. 

Contract Status: Tomlinson had a salary of $560,000 when in the big leagues. He used his third and final option. 

The Future: You never quite know what’s going on with a player off the field, and when discussing Tomlinson’s 2018 season, it must be noted that he came into camp trying to deal with a tremendous tragedy. In the span of three days over the offseason, Tomlinson lost his grandfather and his brother-in-law. He missed FanFest to be with his family, and he never seemed to catch up. Tomlinson never made any excuses, but it’s impossible to know just how much of an impact that situation had on his season. It’s also hard to know where the Giants go from here with Tomlinson, who has been a regular on the bench in recent years. He’s out of options and Alen Hanson and Abiatal Avelino are vying for those infield at-bats, so Tomlinson is in a tough spot. The Giants would surely like to keep him around as depth, but Tomlinson’s spot on the 40-man roster will be in danger this offseason.