On Saturday, the San Francisco Giants agreed to a deal with outfielder Tyler Colvin, according to Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News. The deal is pending a physical, and the contract is a minor-league deal, according to the San Francisco Chronicle's Henry Schulman.
Colvin has reportedly earned a spot in big league camp as a non-roster invitee with a chance to compete for the fifth outfield spot, though he has his work cut out for him after suffering through a rough 2013 season marred by injuries and poor performance.
Indeed, Colvin is coming off a season in which he batted just .160 in 75 at bats with the Colorado Rockies, but don't let that fool you. In 2012, he batted .290 with a solid .858 OPS in 452 plate appearances, his best season to date.
Colvin has also shown a propensity for power hitting in the past. He blasted 20 homers in just 358 at bats in 2010, his rookie season, and averages a home run every 22.9 at bats for his career. He also has solid gap-hitting ability, as indicated by his 10 triples in 2012 and above-average .454 career slugging percentage.
In my estimation, Colvin will see playing time primarily, if not entirely, against right-handed pitching. The lefty has a career .781 OPS against righties, which is certainly nothing to scoff at, but that number drops to .640 against lefties. He could prove valuable in pinch-hitting opportunities against right-handed relievers.
However, that's assuming Colvin makes the big league club. He'll have to put on quite a show during spring training, otherwise the most likely outlook for him is to begin the season in Triple-A. At the very least, he'll provide an upgrade over the options the Giants had last season when their starting outfielders faltered. (Roger Kieschnick, anyone?)
Despite decent prior success, Colvin won't work any miracles for the Giants. He'll add some much-needed outfield depth, but not much else. He lacks discipline at the plate (career .289 OBP, 4.4 K/BB ratio) and he doesn't play the field particularly well (career -3.3 UZR, per FanGraphs). There's also little chance he'll return to his 2012 level of performance because he had a batting average on balls in play (BABIP) of .364 that year, according to FanGraphs, which is 72 points higher than his career average.
That number came back down to earth last season, when Colvin struggled mightily. Unless he gets lucky again in 2014, or makes a change to his approach at the plate, he won't approach a .290 average.
Perhaps Colvin will prove otherwise, but it appears the Giants have picked up another backup outfielder who will provide little more than some extra competition for the No. 5 outfield spot.