Steve Mitchell, USA Today

SF Giants: Other Outfielders in the LF Mix?

San Francisco Giants GM Bobby Evans talked about the team's left field situation as spring training is set to begin, and mentioned a couple of interesting names to add to the list

All offseason the focus when it comes to left field has been on Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker either securing the spot for themselves, or forming some sort of a platoon. On Friday morning at the pre-FanFest media session, when asked about who he thought would win the left field job, Giants GM Bobby Evans declined to provide his opinion, but did mention that he would prefer someone win the job outright instead of platooning the two younger guys. 

Back in December, I wrote a piece on the site saying that a platoon between Parker and Williamson may not work with both players having struggled against left-handed pitching in the past. Whether or not that is the reasoning for Evan's desire to avoid a platoon with these two was not explained, but from what I could gather it looked like he was more focused on the experience in the outfield rather than match-ups at the dish. 

Evans did mention that a platoon with a more veteran player could become a possibility, however, mentioning Michael Morse, Justin Ruggiano and Wynton Bernard as possibilities here. Morse and Ruggiano for their big league experience, and Bernard for his five years in the minors. Morse hasn't displayed much in the way of defense in the past and since leaving San Francisco after the 2014 season he has appeared in just 104 big league games between stints with the Marlins and Pirates. In just six games with the Pirates in 2016, the soon-to-be 35 year old Morse put up a -0.2 fWAR and a -100 wRC+. My guess is that Morse doesn't make it too far this spring. 

Ruggiano on the other hand is an interesting option. He will also be entering his age 35 season, but in his limited action with the Rangers and Mets last season he was solid with the bat (171 wRC+ in 26 plate appearances) while providing average defense at all three outfield positions. That versatility may be enough to earn him an extended look this spring.

The other player mentioned, Bernard, elected free agency this winter as a minor leaguer, and the Giants swooped him up. He hasn't made his big league debut just yet, and has only played in 46 games at the Triple-A level, but with a hot spring he could certainly find himself in a Giants uniform come opening day.

Between Mac and Parker, we have two pretty similar players. Both have power potential, can play multiple outfield spots and are at least decent with the glove. Having both on the big league roster isn't exactly necessary, however. Bernard on the other hand would bring a completely different skill set to the table, with his main tool being his speed. He has swiped 40+ bags twice in his minor league career while playing in A Ball and Double-A, and stole 23 last season in 103 games played while also cutting down on his caught stealing percentage. 

With his speed, Bernard is able to man all three outfield positions, which could certainly be a nice boost if Denard Span needs a breather. He is also much better against lefties than righties, so platooning him with either Parker or Williamson would make much more sense than platooning them with each other. Adding speed and versatility to the roster would give Bruce Bochy some extra options late in games. 

The one knock on Bernard is that he doesn't quite have the experience of Triple-A just yet with only those 46 games, and he hit just .235 in that span, compared to .308 with a .381 OBP with Double-A Erie in 2016. 

Bernard is going to definitely get a look deep into spring training, and could emerge as the front-runner for the fourth outfielder spot--which should see some regular playing time. If he gets passed over initially, look for Bernard to gain some extra experience in Sacramento and develop that hit tool a bit more. If he can prove that he can get on base (at the very least) to unleash his speed on the bases, then we should be seeing Bernard in San Francisco at some point in 2017. Plus, think of all the Bernard Span jokes that can be had! 

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