Giants Mailbagg, part 1: Are Heliot Ramos and Luis Matos here to stay? (2024)

Hi everyone, welcome to the Giants Mailbagg and thanks to those who submitted questions. I tried to focus on answering as many as I could. So to save time, I turned off the Giants games in the eighth inning each of the past three days. I’m sure I didn’t miss anything important!

Off we go…

Do you believe Luis Matos, Marco Luciano, Heliot Ramos and Randy Rodríguez, will be able to sustain their performances and not hit the wall as hard as Patrick Bailey, Casey Schmitt and Matos of 2023? — Eugene W.

It’s a great question. I’m sure the Giants would like to know in advance as well! Last year, it was easy to see the regression monster coming for Schmitt because of his swing decisions and Bailey was catching a full season for the first time. Young players will have their struggles, but there’s reason to believe that the Giants might get a bit more sustainability from this group this season. I really like Luciano’s approach thus far. He’s not chasing out of the zone. Matos seems to be carrying himself with more confidence. I keep looking for regression from Rodriguez but he’s getting better and better. It’s been an encouraging couple of weeks.


Between Matos, Luciano, and Ramos, who will stick? — Milton L.

Matos is the obvious answer here because Jung Hoo Lee is out for the season. The Giants need Matos to take the center field job and run with it.

What’s your prediction for the incoming roster crunch when Austin Slater, Michael Conforto, and Nick Ahmed return? —Dylan C.

I could see the Giants keeping Luciano and sending out Ramos, Brett Wisely and Ryan McKenna. Then perhaps turn shortstop into a bit of a tandem: start Ahmed when ground ball dudes Logan Webb or Jordan Hicks are on the mound and start Luciano when flyball/strikeout dudes Kyle Harrison or Blake Snell are pitching.

My question is similar to a couple others concerning the Giants’ crowded outfield when Slater and Conforto are healthy again. My personal view is that Ramos has matured a lot since we saw him last year, and he’s at least as good as Conforto in left field, defensively. And Matos has been incredible, obviously. I think both deserve to stay with the Giants. Slater’s year has been dismal, both from a health standpoint and in production. He (and Conforto as well) will be a free agent after this year, while the youngsters are cheaper and under team control for many years. What’s your view of Slater being traded or DFAd when he’s healthy? — William W.

I’d be surprised if Slater were let go. It’s not like he’s had a lot of at-bats vs. a track record against lefties that has been impressive over the years. I do think Slater will be given more runway to get in a groove. Ramos was forcing the issue with his strong play at Triple-A Sacramento. He’s probably in a position where he has to keep forcing the issue. As for Matos, he’s part of the outfield group now. I don’t see him returning to Sacramento unless he hits a really extended slump and Tyler Fitzgerald represents a better alternative.

Heliot Ramos – San Francisco Giants (2)

— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) May 23, 2024

I’m curious what if any consideration the Giants make regarding Austin Slater’s spot on the roster and his position as the team union rep? My understanding is that he participates in a high level role for the players union. If he, or any player in his position, were to be DFAd how does that impact the team’s rep situation and what are the ramifications if the player cut plays a bigger role at the union level? — Brian M.

There’s no correlation here. Slater serves on several MLBPA committees but he’s not their union rep anymore. LaMonte Wade Jr. is. If a team traded, DFAd or released their union rep, the players would vote on a new one. Simple as that.

After a solid to good recent showing, does Heliot Ramos seem to be more in the Giants’ future plans? If not, does it seem like they’re giving him this opportunity to shine to increase trade value, once Conforto and Slater are healthy again and the opportunity for everyday play in the outfield dries up? And (following that type of thinking) as a crazy trade scenario: Heliot Ramos and Thairo Estrada for Jazz Chisholm (and move him back to second base, where he was an overall better player), which team says no? Thanks! — Kimani R.

Seems to me the Giants value Estrada’s durability, defensive consistency and offensive upside (just gotta reduce that chase rate) more than they would value Chisholm’s athleticism. As for Ramos: Next spring, he would be in Joey Bart’s position as a player who is out of minor-league options. So it’ll be important that the Giants figure out what kind of future utility Ramos has to the organization this season. As we’ve seen, teams don’t get much in return when they have a player who’s out of options and no roster room to keep them.


Tyler Fitzgerald has four homers and a double in two games in Sacramento. What do you think of the move adding McKenna and sending down Fitzgerald? Also Fitzgerald plays both IF and OF and McKenna just OF, a very puzzling move to me even before he hit the four homers. — Frank E.

Nah, the Giants were too right-handed. They needed to keep Brett Wisely. And after Thursday’s comeback, they’re probably glad that they did.

👀 Tyler Fitzgerald's 2 games since being sent back to Triple-A:
6 H
4 HR
1 2B
2 BB
6 R
1 SB@RiverCats | @SFGiants

— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) May 22, 2024

Hey Baggs, could you shed light on the reasoning behind claiming Ryan McKenna (other than just the fact that the Orioles seem to be doing a lot right developmentally right now)? Are there particular underlying metrics that you think caught Farhan (Zaidi)’s eye? — Clark W.

I heard from one of my beat colleagues (who doesn’t cover the Orioles) who said McKenna was an excellent waiver claim and was well regarded in scouting circles. Then again, Orioles fans on social media will tell you something else entirely. I think the Giants just need capable and healthy outfielders after all the injuries they sustained. I’d imagine McKenna isn’t long for the roster and the Giants will hope to sneak him through waivers.

Would love to hear your take on Bob Melvin’s performance so far. According to expectation this team has underperformed when fully healthy. After shocking mismanagement to blow the first game in Pittsburgh and squash any semblance of momentum, is it fair to say his impact thus far has been negligible to negative? What good is he bringing to this team? — Stephen E.

I’m not sure I’d go as far as “shocking mismanagement.” It wasn’t a save situation and it’s not like Melvin let the Pirates bat around against Luke Jackson. He brought Camilo Doval in once the inning got shaky. Marco Luciano biffed a double-play grounder. It happens. Evaluating managers is never an easy business especially after barely two months. Let’s wait a bit longer before we ask those questions.

However, it’s not too early to begin formulating those questions. How have young players been received and have they been coached to improve their skills? Have the Giants played with consistent effort and cohesion? What kind of shape will the pitching staff be in when September rolls around? The answers to those questions will partially reflect on how players were managed and whether Melvin has added significant value in his role.

Will there be a point any time this season when Melvin wakes up and realizes that Jorge Soler is not now and never has been an on-base guy or an RBI guy and puts him lower in the order where he belongs? — Tom S.

Melvin isn’t auditioning Soler as the leadoff hitter. He’s trying to take some pressure off him and get his bat going. It’s no secret that RBI situations have been a galactic struggle for him. Hitting is all about confidence even for someone like Soler who has led the league in homers. They’re trying to get him in a better mental space so he can go back to hitting three-run tank jobs like he’s done in the past for other teams. That’s it.


What’s up with Soler? Dude seems to be just going through the motions. Never see him engaged with anyone else on the team or up on the dugout rails. — Bobby H.

The DH tends to be on his own program during games. I have heard nothing but positives about Soler’s work ethic and the support he gives to his teammates. Both on and off the record, everyone gushes about what a professional he is.

When the time comes to scale back Kyle Harrison’s and Jordan Hicks’ innings, and fold Robbie Ray and Alex Cobb into the rotation, is there any way the Giants would piggyback Harrison and Hicks as a super-combo starter? It would seem to be one heck of a tandem. One left hander, one right hander, two contrasting styles. Each gets two-to-four innings. Hicks already has experience coming out of the bullpen. It seems like something that’s an awesome no-brainer through the eyes of a fan, but not something the organization would actually do for whatever reason. Is this idea that outlandish? Or is it something the Giants would actually consider doing? — Doug H.

I like the idea. But there’s a reason it hasn’t been done in such a rigid way. There’s no predicting how the games will go from week to week or series to series. You might need a rested Hicks, drawing from your example, to soak up innings the day before a Harrison start. But yes, I agree that the Giants had to plan for the eventuality that Hicks would transition to relief at some point in the second half. This is a transition year for him. It’s easier to sell him on that when he’s in the first season of a guaranteed, four-year contract.

How is Robbie Ray doing? I haven’t heard much about him, and it’s almost June … — Jeff D.

The Giants give us regular updates on injuries and it’s been the same info on Ray in each of the last four reports we’ve gotten. He’s throwing bullpens twice a week in Arizona. I’d imagine he will start ramping up soon. If we don’t have any further updates on him by the time the team returns home next week, I’ll ask.

How much concern is there around Jung Hoo Lee for 2025? Isn’t it a very similar injury to the one Conforto sustained and needed surgery on that took arguably a whole additional season to feel comfortable again? — Carter E.

It’s not his throwing shoulder, which makes a big difference. The Giants expect Lee to make a full recovery.

Now that the center field chain-link fence has bounced our center fielder and nearly bounced his replacement, has the team looked into what they can do to that area to make it more forgiving when players hit the wall? — Randy S.

They are always reviewing field conditions with an eye toward player safety. I’m not sure that this is an action item just yet, though. Some of the seats in the lowest sections near the bullpens (and the relievers themselves) wouldn’t be able to see the action on the field if the walls were padded solid all the way around.

Who’s the one prospect to keep an eye on come September that most people don’t know a thing about? — Cameron G.

Wow, great question. I assume you are asking about prospects who could make an impact on the major-league club in September? If so … I thought it was interesting when Farhan Zaidi said there’s a good chance Reggie Crawford makes his major-league debut at some point this season. Crawford isn’t a total unknown, though.

So let’s go with Dylan Cumming, who is giving off some serious Ryan Walker vibes while dominating at High-A Eugene. Cumming, 25, doesn’t throw as hard as Walker but he’s got some deception to go along with a couple of pretty disgusting breaking pitches. Cumming was an undrafted free agent out of Liberty University. Don’t let that dissuade you, though. Walker was a 31st-rounder back in 2018. So now that the draft has 20 rounds, Walker would’ve been a UDFA, too.


Lots has been made about the lack of up-and-coming hitters in the system which is a stark contrast to the pitching prospects who have or are currently showing well in the minors. Have the Giants looked at changing anything on the hitting side in terms of how they’re helping develop position players? What on the pitching side is the organization doing that’s helping the pitchers succeed? — Chetan H.

This pretty much boils down to inventory. The Giants took pitchers with their top six selections in 2022 and with their first nine selections in 2021.

What’s up with Rayner Arias? — Tj W.

Unfortunate news. Arias fractured his wrist while diving for a ball in a game in extended spring. It’s the same wrist he fractured last season. He’s expected back later this summer and his debut in the Arizona Complex League will be highly anticipated after he posted a 1.333 OPS as a 17-year-old in the Dominican Summer League last year. There are some in the organization who believe Arias could be considered a top-10 prospect in all of baseball by the end of this season.

(Photo of Ramos: Charles LeClaire / USA Today)

Giants Mailbagg, part 1: Are Heliot Ramos and Luis Matos here to stay? (1)Giants Mailbagg, part 1: Are Heliot Ramos and Luis Matos here to stay? (2)

Andrew Baggarly is a senior writer for The Athletic and covers the San Francisco Giants. He has covered Major League Baseball for more than two decades, including the Giants since 2004 for the Oakland Tribune, San Jose Mercury News and Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. He is the author of two books that document the most successful era in franchise history: “A Band of Misfits: Tales of the 2010 San Francisco Giants” and “Giant Splash: Bondsian Blasts, World Series Parades and Other Thrilling Moments By the Bay.” Follow Andrew on Twitter @extrabaggs

Giants Mailbagg, part 1: Are Heliot Ramos and Luis Matos here to stay? (2024)
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