Joey Bart is heading back to Triple-A – for now.
The San Francisco Giants optioned the rookie catcher to Triple-A Sacramento following Tuesday’s 5-3 loss against the Colorado Rockies at Oracle Park. In a separate yet related move, the team announced they have acquired journeyman catcher Austin Wynns from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for minor league left-hander Michael Plassmeyer.
Bart, 25, has struggled heavily at the plate with a .596 OPS and an MLB-worst 45.4 percent strikeout rate (min. 100 PA). He has just two hits in his last 25 at-bats with 15 strikeouts dating back to May 18. Backup catcher Curt Casali has seen his playing time increase over the last few weeks, and more Casali and less Bart has meant more production for the Giants lineup. In 27 games, Casali has a .754 OPS with four homers and 12 runs batted in.
Bart’s strikeouts aren’t a new or unexpected addition to his game, but the sheer quantity has impacted San Francisco’s offense at catcher – a spot lacking compared to other positions on the field. Defensively, Bart has been average with decent framing metrics. The only glaring flaw was throwing out runners on the bases – aspiring thieves are 3-for-17 against him, a percentage towards the bottom of the leaderboard for catchers.
The hope is for Bart to take a break and relax in Sacramento. When future Hall of Famer Buster Posey announced his retirement in the offseason, Bart – the No. 2 overall selection in 2018 – was slated to take over the everyday role. It hasn’t exactly worked out to plan with Bart’s ineffective first two months at the plate. Furthermore, San Francisco expects him to work on a few things to improve and still view him as a key part of their organization.
Farhan Zaidi, Giants President of Baseball Operations, told The San Francisco Chronicle:
We still view him as an everyday catcher.”
Wynns will become the third catcher the Giants have acquired since March 1; Jose Godoy was acquired in Spring Training from the Seattle Mariners but was later claimed off waivers by the Minnesota Twins, and Michael Papierski was brought in from the Houston Astros on May 14 for infielder Mauricio Dubon.
The 31-year-old has been regarded as an above-average catcher with strong receiving and game-calling skills during the course of his nine-year minor league career. Emerging through the Orioles’ system, Wynns – a product of Fresno State – has spent parts of three seasons in the big leagues with Baltimore. In 33 games for the Phillies Triple-A squad in Lehigh Valley, Wynns hit .365 with a 1.004 OPS and three homers. He’s also recorded 28 walks against 18 strikeouts, a skill the organization has targeted with their acquisitions in recent seasons.
The club hasn’t announced whether or not Wynns will join Casali on the active roster, but they will have to add him onto the 40-man roster if he does. Papierski is an option to be called up, adding more of a left-handed compliment to the right-handed hitting Casali.