Why Austin Wynns decided to re-sign with the Giants
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — There’s something missing in the major-league clubhouse here. Or, more accurately, someone.
For Austin Wynns to access the perks of the sparkling three-year-old facility — the snacks, the massage tables, the hot and cold tubs — he has to navigate a hundred-foot corridor, climb a flight of stairs and walk down one more hallway. The daily trek is what separates the lockers of minor leaguers and non-roster invitees from those with secure spots on the 40man roster and plentiful major-league service time.
It hasn’t gone unnoticed that Wynns, who was behind the plate for the Giants in more games last season than anyone but Joey Bart, who is talked about in high regard by the pitchers who threw to him last season and team brass alike, who is firmly one of four catchers competing for two spots on the Opening Day roster, seems a little out of place down here.
“But,” Wynns said, “this was in my heart. I was just like, you know what, I want to be a Giant still. I’m happy they wanted me back.”
His humble home downstairs, at a corner locker inside the old clubhouse the major-league team used until its new facility opened in 2020, is a result of a roster move made in early January. San Francisco had agreed to terms with Michael Conforto but needed a spot on the 40-man roster. Wynns was the sacrificial lamb.
While Farhan Zaidi and Gabe Kapler, publicly and privately, expressed their desire to bring him back, Wynns did explore other opportunities, he said. With a .671 OPS in 65 games, both career highs, while garnering rave reviews from the pitching staff, there’s reason to believe Wynns had other offers.
Ultimately, Wynns took the Giants’ assurances that he would be in the mix, even if not as a member of the 40-man roster, and decided to return on a minor-league deal.
“That’s the part that is most notable,” Kapler said. “The conversations with Austin to let him know that he was still very much important to us and we weren’t going to let him forget that. And we haven’t, by the way.”
Wynns said the Giants were “prepared and professional” in their conversations after he was designated for assignment.
“This is the nature of this game,” he said. “It is what it is. I’m still here. I want to be here. I love this club. This organization is great. I know I have a lot to offer this club. I know what it takes and I want to win and I know this club wants to win too.”
Like this winter, however, Wynns’ fate is only so much in his hands.
In a catching competition with a former top pick looking to reach his potential, a veteran who hasn’t been healthy in three seasons and a Rule 5 draftee who has played 25 games above Double-A (and none in the majors), Wynns, to an extent, is the known quantity.