Farhan Zaidi examines plan for Giants' Joey Bart, Heliot Ramos

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Zaidi examines plan for young Giants 'knocking on the door' originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO -- Joey Bart was one of the first Giants players on the field before every postseason game, doing conditioning work with other members of the taxi squad and defensive drills with coaches. He took batting practice regularly and caught bullpen sessions, but once the active roster took the field every day, Bart retreated to the clubhouse.

That summed up his season in a way.

Bart was always somewhat in the picture, going back to spring training, but he ultimately ended up getting just six at-bats for the Giants in 2021, and didn't appear in a game after July 10. One of his close friends, fellow top prospect Heliot Ramos, hoped to get his big league debut out of the way sometime in 2021, but after a huge spring and a solid two months in Double-A, he spent the rest of his season with Triple-A Sacramento. 

There aren't many, if any, downsides to winning 107 games, but as the Giants chased a division title, they did not have time to let prospects and rookies get their feet wet. They'll be trying to repeat in 2022, but at some point they also do have to get Bart, Ramos and other young players involved. That's the way to make sure all of this is sustainable. 

On this week's Giants Talk Podcast, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi discussed what the immediate future holds for those two, as well as other young players looking for an opportunity. 

"I think there's a couple layers of guys. You've got Joey and Ramos who have played well at the upper levels now and are really knocking on the door, and you've also got guys like Steven Duggar and Thairo Estrada who have played well and haven't really gotten that 500 at-bat opportunity, and I think there's a lot of people in our organization that feel they could thrive in that type of role," Zaidi said. "That's going to be the tradeoff. We're coming off a great season and sometimes that creates a motivation to go out there and feel like we've got to get this one last piece, but I think we want to be mindful of these guys that have earned an opportunity. 

"That's really part of the culture of our team now is giving guys opportunities and a chance to establish themselves and we want to continue that in 2022." 

Zaidi made that an emphasis right away in his first season, allowing guys like Mike Yastrzemski, Alex Dickerson and Donovan Solano to establish themselves as big leaguers. Ironically, some of those players might need to be pushed out for the next wave to get a shot. 

Dickerson is arbitration-eligible and was limited to occasional pinch-hit at-bats down the stretch and in the postseason. If the Giants want to make room for a Duggar or Ramos to play in the outfield more, Dickerson might be the one who ends up on the outside. Solano and the Giants couldn't agree on an arbitration number last offseason and the 33-year-old is hitting free agency. The easy move is to slide the 25-year-old Estrada, who had a .813 OPS and hit seven homers, into that spot. 

Bart might actually be in the trickiest spot of all, even though he spent most of the shortened 2020 season as the starting catcher for the Giants. They expect Buster Posey back in that role and backup Curt Casali is arbitration-eligible. While Casali didn't hit much, he had the full trust of the pitching and coaching staffs and the team went 42-13 when he started behind the plate. 

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During his end-of-season press conference on Monday, Zaidi said it's a good problem to have. He pointed out that the Giants are in a much better position than last year, when Posey opted out and Bart was rushed to the big leagues. With Posey back, Bart spent all of 2021 in Triple-A, posting a .294/.358/.472 slash line with 10 homers. 

"We didn't have Joey in a state (in 2020) where he was maybe as big league-ready as he is now," Zaidi said. "I think we're in a much better position with Joey. Obviously Curt has done a great job for us and the job that Kap and his staff did with Buster and managing his workload, I know he's spoken about that. He was in our estimation the best catcher in baseball this year.

"I feel really good about the state of that position at this point."

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