SAN FRANCISCO -- If the Giants were a bit passive-aggressive in the past, now there's a new baseball style afoot. Literally. Call it the fast and the furious. Saturday's signing of center fielder Dave Roberts to a three-year pact worth $18 million continues a trend for a speedball -- rather than smallball or waiting-for-the-longball -- approach, as the 34-year-old Roberts packs good wallop -- he had 13 triples with a .293 average and 49 stolen bases last season for San Diego.
"We're thrilled to sign Dave as leadoff hitter," San Francisco general manager Brian Sabean said on Saturday. "He's a known commodity, catalyst and good defender. To get a piece of the puzzle in place is very comforting, and a great first step for us to reshape our order." The top of the order is now set, for equally fast shortstop Omar Vizquel -- 10 triples, 24 stolen bases -- will bat second, while it's theorized that infielder Rich Aurilia, expected to sign a two-year deal soon, is likely to hit third. Sabean said Aurilia and his representatives are scrutinizing the contract's language and the player was to undergo a physical Saturday. "The lineup is a work in progress, but speed is a determining factor in a lot of games," said Sabean. "We're cognizant of that and Dave is a perfect fit. Our last few teams certainly didn't have this dimension." Roberts had an outstanding season with the Padres last year, establishing a career-high triples mark and also setting personal standards with 129 games, 499 at-bats, 146 hits, 80 runs scored, 44 RBIs and a .360 on-base percentage. A highlight was batting .327 with runners in scoring position. "I'm excited for the opportunity," said the always upbeat and loquacious Roberts. "I'm familiar with the National League West and always had admiration for the Giants. I do think 'go' when I'm on first, and I want to help the Giants get back to the postseason." Roberts said his comfort level is high with San Francisco, not only rejoining former Padres skipper Bruce Bochy, but others on the club.
Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.