San Francisco Giants Make Trade Deadline Noise
The San Francisco Giants have maintain the poll-position for some time now in the NL West Division. But with their recent struggles since returning from the All-Star break, there’s no question this is a flawed team. As history has shown, the Giants are not afraid to jump into the trade deadline madness and pick up a key piece or two that helps them win in October. With the two trades pulled off on Monday, and one late last week, the Giants are hoping history repeats itself.
The Trades –
The first trade occurred late Thursday night of last week when the Giants sent minor league starting pitcher Adalberto Mejia to the Minnesota Twins for super-utilityman Eduardo Nunez. Nunez was the Twins representative at this season’s All-Star game, making him a default All-Star. However, Nunez is having himself a fine season. With the Twins, Nunez batted .296/.325/.439 triple-slash, with 49 R’s, 110 H’s, 15 2B’s, 12 HR’s, 47 RBI’s, 27 SB’s, 15 BB’s, 58 SO’s, and a .764 OPS in 371 at-bats. Going back to the Twins is the lefty starter Mejia, who since being called up to Triple-A Sacramento has a 4-1 W-L record with a 4.20 ERA, 42 H’s, 19 R’s/19 ER’s, 5 HR’s, 11 BB’s, 43 SO’s, and a 1.303 WHIP in 40.2 IP’s/7 starts.
Mejia projects to be a middle-to-back end rotation starter who should see time in the big-leagues next season. He was regarded as a top 10 prospect within the Giants organization, so it was a steep price to pay. But Mejia was one of many capable starting pitchers in the Giants system. And it’s a system with a great reputation for churning out home-grown starting pitchers. Nunez, however, is no rental player. He has one more year of arbitration left before he hits free agency after the 2017 season. Nunez provides great depth for the Giants, possibly playing four different positions on the field (3B, SS, 2B, and OF). It also gives the Giants cover if they need to make a move involving a player from the current roster. We’ll touch on this in a minute.
In order to bolster the back end of the bullpen, the Giants dove in deep into the reliever pool and acquired Milwaukee Brewers lefty-specialist Will Smith (no, not the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) for two minor league prospects. Smith was to be the Brewers closer to start the season, but he blowout his knee in a freak accident. He elected to rehab the injury instead of season-ending surgery to repair the knee ligament, a wise decision. Since returning from rehab, Smith is 1-3 W-L with a 3.68 ERA, 18 H’s, 13 R’s/9 ER’s, 3 HR’s, 9 BB’s, 22 SO’s, and a 1.227 WHIP in 22.0 IP’s. The Giants must have been ok with Smith’s medicals, because they gave up two prospects regarded highly within their organization.
Going to the Brewers in return for Smith are starting pitcher Phil Bickford and catcher Andrew Susac. Bickford was the Giants first-round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, and considered the Giants top pitching prospect. In his first full season in the minors, splitting time between low-A and high-A ball, he is 5-6 W-L with a 2.71 ERA, 70 H’s, 33 R’s/28 ER’s, 5 HR’s, 27 BB’s, 105 SO’s, and a 1.043 WHIP in 93.0 IP’s/17 starts. Susac was regarded as the best prospect in the Giants system before being called-up in 2014 to be the primary backup catcher to starter Buster Posey. However, Susac was plagued with injuries in Spring Training, forcing him to start the season in Triple-A. With the emergence of Trevor Brown as the Giants backup catcher, Susac quickly became expendable. I don’t doubt that Susac can be a catcher in the bigs, but with the Giants signing first baseman Brandon Belt to a long-term contract extension, it signaled that Posey would remain at catcher for the long-haul, thereby blocking any path Susac had to the majors.
Now for the shocker. Just as the trading deadline was coming to an end, literally at 12:59 PST (trade deadline ended at 1:00 PST/4:00 EST) the Giants announced that they had acquired Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Matt Moore. Reports on who exactly was involved in the trade were conflicting, but once it was settled, Giants fans hearts sank. Going to the Rays in the in exchange to the lefty Moore from the Giants starting third baseman Matt Duffy, and two minor league prospects, infielder Lucius Fox and pitcher Michael Santos. The centerpiece obviously being Duffy in this trade, and a lot of Giants fans were left with broken hearts.
Duffy was quickly becoming a fan favorite amongst Giants Nation, after having a All-Star type year in 2015. However, an injured Achilles has hampered Duffy’s 2016 season and had just started his rehab assignment. I happened to be at Duffy’s rehab game on Sunday, which turned out to be his last with the Giants. And for what’s it worth, he looked good, getting his swing back into form. But in order to get someone good, you sometimes have to give up something good, and Moore is good.
The 27-year old lefty is having a somewhat subpar bounce-back season after recovering from Tommy John surgery. His 2016 season numbers with TB were 7-7 W-L with a 4.08 ERA, 125 H’s, 62 R’s/59 ER’s, 20 HR’s, 40 BB’s, 109 SO’s, and a 1.269 WHIP in 130 IP’s/21 starts. The numbers aren’t great; it’s what he’s done his last 10 starts that had the Giants anxiously to acquire him. He got at least six innings in those starts, and seven in five of them. In his last six starts, Moore has only given up 9 ER’s, and winning four of those games. He’s been trending upward and the Giants are hoping that he can carry that over to spacious AT&T Park, because the price was heavy to acquire him. What also makes Moore attractive is he’s fairly cheap and controllable until 2019.
In the end, I really like what the Giants did at the trade deadline. They are a much better team now than they were before the trade deadline. These were necessary moves they had to make. Not only to keep up with the major players in the National League, but also within their Division. The Los Angeles Dodgers have narrowed the gap between them and the Giants from 8 games to now only 2. And before the Giants pushed all their chips into the pot, the Dodgers made a trade with the Oakland A’s to get starting pitcher Rich Hill and fan-favorite right fielder Josh Reddick. So the moves the Giants made were not only to get better, but also to counteract what the Dodgers did. Dodgers showed their hand, now it was time for the Giants to play their cards.
Here’s hoping that the Giants hit on the river come October.