After an offseason all about who didn’t sign with the San Francisco Giants, Opening Day has arrived. While a significant portion of fans are understandably bothered by the lack of an Aaron Judge or Carlos Correa, there are still some fresh faces in town as the 2023 season commences.
The group of newcomers includes a few offseason signings, a pair of Major League debutants and a utilityman who was acquired less than 24 hours ago. If some of these new pieces establish themselves as some of Farhan Zaidi’s best pickups, you’ll want a bit of background on who they are. Here’s a guide on who’s who to stay ahead of the game.
Beaty is quickly becoming an NL West journeyman after being acquired by the Giants just before Opening Day. He plays first base and both corner outfield spots, and has even made occasional appearances at third base. Beaty played for the Los Angeles Dodgers for three seasons, appearing in 120 games in 2021, and made 20 appearances for the San Diego Padres in 2022 before signing a minor league contract with the Kansas City Royals in January. He was acquired from the Royals just hours before the start of the 2023 season and will be on the active roster.
A Seattle native and Oregon State product, Conforto spent seven seasons with the New York Mets, but spent all of 2022 as a free agent. He declined an extension and qualifying offer, then injured his shoulder during an offseason workout. Zaidi signed him to a two-year, $36 million contract in January, with an opt-out available after his first year. He’ll be San Francisco’s Opening Day right fielder, batting second against New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole.
San Francisco’s biggest offseason addition, Haniger is a Santa Clara County native and Mitty alum who played his college ball at Cal Poly. Injuries have limited him to just two full Major League seasons, but he hit 26 homers for the Seattle Mariners in 2019 and 39 in 2021. He signed a three-year, $43.5 million contract, but will start the year on the 10-day injured list with an oblique strain.
Jackson spent five seasons with the Atlanta Braves before undergoing Tommy John surgery. The right-handed reliever with a strong fastball-slider mix will open the year on the 15-day injured list as he continues to recover from surgery. He was originally drafted by the Texas Rangers and was traded to Atlanta after the 2016 season.
Best known in the Bay Area for his six seasons with the Oakland Athletics, Manaea joins the Giants rotation after a difficult 2022 with the San Diego Padres. The “Throwin’ Samoan,” who threw a no-hitter against the eventual World Champion Boston Red Sox in 2018, pitched to a 3.86 ERA in Oakland but struggled to a 4.96 mark last year in San Diego. He’s back in the Bay Area on a two-year, $25 million deal with the option to opt out after the 2023 season.
Pérez was signed to an under-the-radar minor league deal during the San Francisco 49ers’ NFC Championship Game loss, and he’ll enter 2023 as the Giants’ Opening Day catcher, rather than Joey Bart. Pérez spent eight seasons with the Cleveland Indians (their last eight before becoming the Guardians) and joined the Pittsburgh Pirates for 2022, but played in just 21 games before requiring hamstring surgery. He has a career OPS (on-base plus slugging) of just .658, but is regarded as an elite game manager.
The twin brother of submariner Tyler Rogers, Taylor is a left-handed reliever with a more conventional delivery. He was a mainstay in the Minnesota Twins bullpen for six seasons, then was traded to the Padres just hours before the 2022 season began. He was then flipped to the Milwaukee Brewers at the trade deadline, where he struggled to end the year. In December, he signed a three-year, $33 million deal to join his brother in San Francisco.
Sabol will make history on Thursday as the 17th unique left fielder in a row to start for the Giants on Opening Day. Beginning with 2007, the final season of Barry Bonds’ career, the Giants have had a different Opening Day left fielder every season. Last year, it was Joc Pederson, who remains with the Giants but will serve as the designated hitter on Thursday. Sabol, who can also play catcher, is a Rule 5 pick from the Pittsburgh Pirates. He has to remain on the active roster all year, or else he’ll be offered back to Pittsburgh. Sabol was born in Aliso Viejo and played his college ball at USC.
A swingman who will open the year in the Giants rotation, Stripling made a memorable MLB debut at Oracle Park as a member of the Dodgers in 2016. He threw 7 1/3 no-hit innings, but was pulled after 100 pitches and lost his chance at a win when Chris Hatcher gave up a home run to the very first batter he faced, backup catcher Trevor Brown. He was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2020 and signed a similar deal to Manaea for two years and $25 million with an opt-out clause after the 2023 season.
A surprise addition to the Opening Day roster, Wisely was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays in an under-the-radar trade in November. The infielder may only be on the roster for a couple of days before his spot goes to 6-foot-11 pitcher Sean Hjelle, who was initially said to have made the Opening Day roster. With an off day between Thursday and Saturday’s games, Hjelle isn’t immediately needed, so the Giants opted to carry an extra bench bat in Wisely.
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