Tampa Bay Rays

Matt Duffy gives 'never say never' answer to future Giants reunion

Matt Duffy gives 'never say never' answer to future Giants reunion

The Giants have brought back many players for a second rodeo in the past.

Hunter Pence was their latest example this past offseason when the Giants signed the two-time World Series champion to a one-year contract, and he certainly won't be the last player to come back for Round 2 in San Francisco. Perhaps there could be another reunion for a fan-favorite in the future. 

"Never say never," Matt Duffy said Wednesday to KNBR's Mark Willard. 

Duffy, 29, signed with the New York Yankees on June 28. He signed a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers, but they released him before announcing their 60-man roster for Summer Camp. New York quickly swooped in and signed the infielder. 

The Giants called to "check in" over the offseason as well. But there is no reunion in place. At least, not yet.

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

"We did have some dialogue with the Giants this offseason, but it just didn't seem like the interest was there and as mutual as some other opportunities," Duffy said. "But yeah, like I said, never say never."

Duffy made his big league debut with the Giants in 2014, and instantly became a fan-favorite. He hit .267 over 34 games that year, then starred as a rookie the next season. Duffy finished second in NL Rookie of the Year voting after he hit .295/.334/.428 with 28 doubles, 12 homers and 77 RBI in 149 games.

Unfortunately for Duffy, that has been his only full season in the big leagues. In 2016, Duffy was hampered by an Achilles injury and played in 70 games for the Giants. Then on Aug. 1, 2016 the Giants traded Duffy with prospects Lucius Fox and Michael Santos to the Tampa Bay Rays for left-handed pitcher Matt Moore.

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Duffy played 21 games for the Rays in 2016, but underwent season-ending Achilles surgery and missed the entire 2017 season. He hit .294 for the Rays in 2018, and only played in 46 games last year. 

Injuries have hampered Duffy throughout his career. However, if healthy, Giants fans certainly would welcome a reunion in the future.

Former Giant Matt Duffy signs contract with Yankees; on 60-man roster

Former Giant Matt Duffy signs contract with Yankees; on 60-man roster

Giants fans love Matt Duffy. But they won't like his latest career decision.

Duffy, a former 18th-round draft pick by the Giants in 2012, signed a contract with the New York Yankees on Sunday and was added to their 60-man roster for the 2020 MLB season.

Duffy spent spring training with the Texas Rangers, and collected nine hits in 32 at-bats over 13 games.

The 29-year-old infielder made his big league debut with the Giants in 2014, and instantly became a fan-favorite. Duffy and his late cat Skeeter were a dynamic duo in San Francisco.

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

The 2015 season was Duffy's only full season in the big leagues. That year, he hit .295/.334/.428 with 28 doubles, 12 homers and 77 RBI in 149 games. He finished second in National League Rookie of the Year voting to Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant.

The next season, Duffy was hampered by an Achilles injury and played in 70 games. On Aug. 1, 2016, the Giants traded Duffy with prospects Lucius Fox and Michael Santos to the Tampa Bay Rays for left-handed pitcher Matt Moore.

Two weeks after joining the Rays, Duffy left a game with mild soreness in his Achilles, and later underwent season-ending surgery. He would miss the entire 2017 season.

Duffy hit .252 with three doubles and one homer in 46 games for the Rays last season.

[RELATED: Looking back at Duffy trade]

Through all the ups and downs, Giants fans still hold a special place in their hearts for Duffy, and the team almost brought him back this offseason. Duffy told The San Francisco Chronicle that the Giants called to "check in," but he ended up signing a minor league contract with the Rangers.

Despite Duffy joining the Evil Empire, it likely won't diminish the feelings Giants fans have for him.

Why Giants, new manager Gabe Kapler think so highly of Rays organization

Why Giants, new manager Gabe Kapler think so highly of Rays organization

SAN FRANCISCO -- If Farhan Zaidi wouldn't have accepted the job last November, the Giants very likely would have turned to Chaim Bloom, then the vice president of baseball operations for the Tampa Bay Rays. A year later, Gabe Kapler was chosen over two other finalists for the manager job, including Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro. 

It's no accident that the front office keeps looking to Tampa Bay in a quest to find a new and better approach, and their new leadership team has Rays connections, too. Zaidi was hired in Los Angeles by Andrew Friedman, who came over from the Rays. Kapler played his final two big league seasons in Tampa Bay. 

Asked earlier this month if there are specific strategies he wants to implement with a younger Giants team in 2020, Kapler brought up his former team. 

"Farhan has a tendency to be experimental. I know the guys in Los Angeles have a tendency to be experimental, as well," Kapler said. "I think an organization that we all think pretty highly of that's doing great things in the industry is the Tampa Bay Rays. I think Tampa is a really good model for being creative around strategic decisions. Things like you mentioned, like the opener, how to use relievers maybe in more high-leverage situations relative to having very set, specific roles."

The Rays are not the only organization on the frontline of innovation, but they get the most credit because they've gone furthest in big league games, and they continue to win despite one of the lower payrolls in the league. Tampa Bay went 96-66 last season, finishing 15 games better than the Phillies and 19 ahead of the Giants, who want to embrace new strategies while also having the payroll to dominate in more traditional methods of player acquisition. 

[RELATED: Why Beede sees rookie season as very promising]

With Zaidi in charge, the Giants did try some new things last season. They used an opener once and tried a four-man outfield with Joe Panik standing in right. At the minor league level, they used openers, piggybacked starters at times, and experimented with four-man outfields and different shifts. 

A big part of that was to get future Giants on board with new methods, and Kapler said communication will be key as he tries new things.

"All those conversations have to happen before those kind of experiments are put into motion," Kapler said. "Because, if they're all for it and the strategic decision makes sense, sure I think that's a really cool strategy to deploy. But if a guy is like, oh man, I don't feel like I can get ready for a game to come in in the second or third inning, it might take a little bit more work before you're ready to use that guy in that situation."

For more from Kapler on his early thoughts on the Giants, you can listen to him on The Giants Insider podcast.