KC Royals designated Johnny Giavotella for assignment in 2014. He caught on with the Angels in 2015 and has started for them the last two seasons. On Saturday, Los Angeles DFA’d Giavotella due to his lack of versatility.
Twenty-nine year old Johnny Giavotella was a second round draft pick of the Kansas City Royals in 2008, and earned the call to Kansas City in 2011. Giavotella rose through the minor leagues with many players who formed the core of the KC Royals current club, including Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Danny Duffy, and many others.
The problem was is that he never could take control of the second base job in Kansas City despite opportunities across four seasons. In the end, general manager Dayton Moore decided that Giavotella’s bat wasn’t good enough to overcome his defensive limitations.
Giavotella won the Angels second base job in a spring training contest in 2015 to take over for the departed Howie Kendrick. Giavotella slashed .272/.318/.375 while playing sound enough defense to be worth 1.0 bWAR (Baseball-Reference Wins Above Replacement).
However, Giavotella suffered through a tough start to the 2016 season which has reduced his slash line to .260/.287/.376. His defense improved enough that he still produced 0.5 bWAR in value in 367 at bats. But, the Angels front office decided they needed more versatile players in the middle infield.
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Johnny GIavotella could only play second base, while the Angels plan to go with a young pitching staff in 2017. Consequently, they might need to carry eight relievers and only three bench players. Those needs made a second base only player with a light bat like Giavotella a poor fit.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia told the Los Angeles Times:
"“Johnny for a time was an incredible spark plug for us,” Scioscia said. “But, just being able to play second base, his opportunities started to diminish. Not being versatile, it was going to be tough, especially if we were not going to commit to him to play second base every day.“We’re going to take a look at a couple different options and hopefully get the production we need, both offensively and defensively, at second base.”"
Scouts saw Johnny Giavotella as a bat-first second baseman with limited upside on defense when he was a prospect. However, Giovotella’s bat never developed as many scouts believed it would. As a result, he’s a marginal major league starter.
Giavotella, however, is likely to find a starting job somewhere next season given the dearth of talent league-wide at second base. He’s about a 1.0 WAR player over a full season, and will only be 30 years old in 2017.
Good luck, Johnny.