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How Giants’ new infielder caught eye of Padres manager



Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

He has not had the national recognition that major league games will bring you because Jason Vosler has not played a major league game yet. But the Giants have seen plenty of their infield signing over the years.

Scott Harris’ Cubs drafted him in the 16th round in 2014, progressing up the system until he was dealt to the Padres after the 2018 season, which had finished in Triple-A for Vosler. His 2019 campaign was spent with El Paso of the PCL, teammates with Alex Dickerson until the Giants plucked the outfielder. He posted excellent numbers (.291/.367/.523 with 20 home runs) and caught the Giants’ eye while impressing his own club, too, getting the invite to 2020 major league spring training.

That’s when Jayce Tingler got his first good look at the corner infielder.

“Before the pandemic hit, in spring training he was having as good of at-bats as any of our guys,” the Padres manager said of Vosler last week over Zoom. “What stood out to me with him during spring training is the way he swung the bat, hit the ball for power. He was able to hit the ball the other way, had some doubles in the left-center gap and [had] the ability to use the entire field.”

Vosler going 9-for-20 (.450) with a homer, three doubles, three walks and two strikeouts got his then-manager’s attention, and the now-27-year-old was invited to camp 2.0 and the alternate site. But Manny Machado, their third baseman, played 60 games last season, and Eric Hosmer and Mitch Moreland saw the majority of time at first. Vosler was blocked and became a minor league free agent who earned a major league pact, the Giants feeling his market dictated that.

Vosler does not bring major league experience, but he’s a lefty bat in an infield that needed one, able to spell Evan Longoria at third and give Brandon Belt a night off. There is more question about whether he can complement Donovan Solano/Wilmer Flores/Mauricio Dubon at second, a position he’s played for five games since 2017. Tingler, while saying the 6-foot-1, 220-pounder is athletic, said he viewed him as a corner infielder.

“He’s certainly going to get an opportunity,” Farhan Zaidi said last month of Vosler, who hits righties far better than lefties. “It does not preclude us from going out and getting another left-handed bat or even a more experienced left-handed bat to compete for that role.”

The Giants’ in-house flexibility has given them flexibility in which lefty bats they bring in this offseason. Because Dubon proved he can handle center field, they could add another infield lefty — it is hard to find a more Zaidi player than Tommy La Stella — in which case, Vosler’s role would shrink. Because he still has options, he could be up and down in 2021 as needed.

If the Giants’ hunt for another lefty bat takes them to the outfield — a glove like Jackie Bradley Jr.’s would fit well in Oracle Park — Dubon would play more infield and Vosler would have a clearer path to playing time.

Zaidi called him a “guy who has a chance to be a good all-around player and be one of those guys that maybe isn’t a quote-unquote, ‘everyday player,’ but could wind up getting 300 at-bats at the end of the season.”

That’ll depend on the Giants’ next hot-stove move, but Vosler should finally get major league time after impressing everywhere else, between the minors and spring training.