Haniger homecoming: 'Always a dream to play for the Giants'

December 13th, 2022

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants have struggled to attract free-agent hitters in recent years, but they had the home-field advantage while courting outfielder .

Haniger had plenty of suitors during his first foray into free agency, but the Mountain View native and Archbishop Mitty High School alum ultimately couldn’t turn down the opportunity to suit up for his childhood team.

“Obviously, growing up in the Bay Area and being a Giants fan, it was always a dream to play for the Giants,” said Haniger, who signed a three-year, $43.5 million deal that includes an opt-out clause after the 2024 season. “I’m really thankful and grateful that they offered me [a contract] and I had this opportunity. I couldn't be more excited to be a Giant.”

Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent and Rich Aurilia were among Haniger’s favorite players as a kid, though he later transitioned to rooting for Tim Lincecum and Buster Posey during his college years at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Haniger said he’s looking forward to helping the Giants try to return to the playoffs and bring a championship trophy back to San Francisco for the first time since 2014.

“They want to win,” Haniger said Monday during a Zoom call with reporters. “When I met with [president of baseball operations] Farhan [Zaidi] and [manager] Gabe [Kapler], it really seemed like they loved their players. They want to do what's best for their players, and they know how to get the maximum output and the maximum performance out of each guy. As far as strength and conditioning and recovery and all these different things that the Giants organization focuses on, everything just kind of felt right to me.”

The Giants are still in the hunt for another outfielder following their unsuccessful pursuit of reigning American League MVP Award winner Aaron Judge, who reportedly agreed to a nine-year, $360 million deal to stay with the Yankees. Despite missing out on Judge, San Francisco managed to land an impact bat in Haniger, who is expected to slot into an everyday role in the corner outfield and help stabilize a lineup that relied heavily on platoons in 2022.

Haniger, who turns 32 on Dec. 23, appeared in only 57 games in 2022 due to a right ankle injury, but he enjoyed a career season for the Mariners in 2021, when he crushed 39 home runs and posted an .803 OPS over 157 games.

While Haniger has dealt with frequent injuries -- he’s appeared in more than 100 games only twice in his six-year career -- he expressed confidence that he’ll be able to stay durable and productive in San Francisco.

“I think I’ve had some bad luck and some fluke injuries,” Haniger said. “At the same time, I’ve tried to learn from them and try to make sure I can do whatever I can to stay healthy, stay on the field and stay productive. For me, I’ve always felt like if I’m healthy, I’m able to produce really well. The goal is to be one of the best outfielders of the game. I know I can be that as long as I’m healthy.”

Haniger toured the Giants’ facilities during a recent visit to Oracle Park and said he came away impressed by the resources offered by the club’s training staff.

"When I was talking to a lot of other players that have recently played here, something that kept coming up was how great the support staff was, on the coaching staff as well as in the weight room and the training room,” Haniger said. “Everybody said that they'll have any recovery device you need, anything to help you stay on the field and get better. There were some players I talked to from other teams where that wasn't the case. For me, hearing that was huge.”

Haniger joins a Giants outfield mix that includes another Bay Area native in Joc Pederson, who accepted the one-year, $19.65 million qualifying offer after delivering an All-Star campaign in his first season with San Francisco. After opposing each other in high school football, Haniger and Pederson are now poised to become teammates, giving the Giants a pair of homegrown sluggers to pencil in to the heart of their order.

“Bay Area natives, a lot of them grew up rooting for the Giants and the A’s, and we’re an attractive team for them to put on those colors they grew up rooting for,” Zaidi said last week. “We’ve had a really good experience with those players. … We believe it’s not a marketing gimmick. We believe players being comfortable helps them succeed and perform well. We’ve seen it time and time again. These guys are all good players wherever they play. I just think that playing for us can help them get to another level.”