Baseball America’s annual ranking of the farm systems is out. The top five: Rangers, Rays, Giants, Phillies and Indians. The bottom five: Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Cardinals and Astros.
The Giants at number 3 seems like an empty ranking to me. While they still technically count, the two blue chippers they name — Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner — aren’t going to be minor leaguers for long, and another named prospect — Angel Villalona — may never be allowed in the United States, what with the murder rap and all. Mostly, though, I just refuse to believe that Brian Sabean has built a solid farm system, because if that happened I’d have to stop criticizing him about everything, and it’s hard to let go of the things that you love.
The Indians should be on there twice. Once for having a good system of their own, and once for allowing Philadelphia to rank so high by virtue of not driving a hard bargain in the Cliff Lee deal.
At the bottom, the Nats have Strasburg and Storen, but everything else was put together by Jim Bowden so it’s understandably a mess. I think the most telling tidbit, however, comes in the Astros comment: no Houston farm team has had a winning record since 2007. That’s sixteen team seasons. That’s top-to-bottom consistency, my friends. Awful consistency, but consistency all the same.
Anyway, the B.A. list is always fun, if for no other reason than it puts to lie the “our team should trade some prospects for so-and-so” arguments you hear on talk radio all the time. Fact is, for a good number of you, there are no prospects.
The Giants are finalizing a minor league deal for free agent outfielder Cameron Maybin, according to Andrew Baggarly and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The team has not confirmed the signing, but it’s in keeping with their stated goal of adding more veteran presence and outfield options to their roster in advance of the 2019 season.
Maybin, 31, appeared in back-to-back gigs with the Marlins and Mariners in 2018. He slashed an underwhelming .249/.326/.336 with four home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 15 chances), a .662 OPS, and 0.5 fWAR through 384 plate appearances for the two clubs, a clear improvement over his totals in 2017 but still shy of the career numbers he posted with the Padres all the way back in 2011. It’s not only his offense that has tanked, but his speed and defense in center field, all of which he’ll try to improve as he jockeys for a roster spot in camp this month.
The Giants’ outfield has been largely depleted of any kind of consistent talent lately, especially taking into account the recent departures of Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, and Gorkys Hernández. Even with the acquisition of, say, All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper, there’s nothing standing in the way of Maybin and fellow veteran signee Gerardo Parra grabbing hold of full- or part-time roles this year, though they’ll need to outperform candidates like Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar, Drew Ferguson, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Craig Gentry, Mike Gerber, and others first.
In a previous report on Friday, Baggarly revealed that a “handshake understanding” had been established with several veteran players already this offseason, all but guaranteeing them regular starting opportunities over the course of the season. How those agreements will be affected by spring training performances remains to be seen, but at least for now, the Giants appear prepared to give their newest players a long leash as they try to get back on top in the NL West.