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Inbox: Which Giants will thrive in 2021?

@mi_guardado
November 23, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving! Before stuffing ourselves with turkey, let’s dive into the latest edition of the Giants Inbox: Who will be the biggest surprise and biggest downfall in 2021? -- Addison The luster on Joey Bart might have dimmed a little after he struggled in his first 33 games with the

Happy Thanksgiving! Before stuffing ourselves with turkey, let’s dive into the latest edition of the Giants Inbox:

Who will be the biggest surprise and biggest downfall in 2021?
-- Addison

The luster on Joey Bart might have dimmed a little after he struggled in his first 33 games with the Giants, but I think he’s going to be better positioned to succeed next year with the expected return of the Minor League season and of Buster Posey. In September, Evan Longoria pointed out that Bart was undoubtedly hurt by the absence of Posey, who elected to sit out the 2020 campaign, and he predicted that the 23-year-old rookie will enjoy “exponential growth” next year.

“He really needed Buster here. Let’s be honest,” Longoria said. “I think sometimes he felt isolated, trying to figure out a lot of things on his own. It was really a good year for him, learning-wise. I look for a lot of growth from him next year, being able to be around Buster next spring and just really take the next step.”

Bart is likely to open next season at Triple-A Sacramento to further his development, but if he can refine his plate discipline -- he racked up 41 strikeouts and only three walks in 2020 -- and show that he can elevate the ball more consistently to leverage his power, I think he has the potential to become a rare two-way catcher in the Majors.

It’s hard to bet against any players at this point, particularly given the organization’s emphasis on development at the Major League level and the improvements we saw from several hitters this year. Mike Yastrzemski and Donovan Solano appeared to be prime regression candidates last offseason, and they ended up being even more impressive in 2020. I will be curious to see whether Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford will be able to build off the success they enjoyed this past season as they enter the final year of their contracts, though.

Are the Giants and Yaz talking about a multiyear contract, or will it be a wait-and-see situation?
-- @sleepymofo

There aren’t any indications that there are ongoing talks between the Giants and Yastrzemski on a long-term extension, though those conversations are more likely to happen during Spring Training. Locking up Yastrzemski would give San Francisco cost certainty and make it easier to plan ahead, but there would be a degree of risk in making a long-term commitment to a late bloomer who just turned 30, an age when some hitters have already begun to decline. Perhaps it’s a possibility the Giants will be open to down the road, but I’m not sure it’s at the top of their minds right now, as Yastrzemski won’t be eligible for arbitration until 2023 and won’t hit free agency until after the '25 season.

When will the Giants pursue a "real hitter?"
-- Maury M., San Francisco

The Giants don’t have many holes on the position-player side, so I wouldn’t expect them to pursue a “real hitter” this offseason. Maybe that will change next winter, when Belt, Crawford and Posey will be eligible for free agency, but for now, I think they’ll prefer to seek out more complementary pieces for the offense and devote the bulk of their resources toward improving the pitching staff.

Have there been any announcements on the San Jose Giants’ schedule?
-- Javier J., San Jose, Calif.

The San Jose Giants have yet to release their 2021 schedule, but that may be partly because there is still some uncertainty surrounding the outlook for the Minor League season. Hopefully there will be more updates in the coming weeks, though all plans are subject to change during a pandemic.

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.