The San Francisco Giants trade deadline day was quite intruiging. They made some bold moves at the 2016 trade deadline. Some people like them, but seemingly many more are on the fence. It’s important to understand the impact of these deals. They not only have implications for the team by the bay, but for their NL West opponents as well.
Analyzing the Giants Trade Deadline
Trade One: Eduardo Nunez for Adalberto Mejia
If we’re going to grade these deals, from F (Wheeler/Beltran) to A (Scutaro/Culberson), this trade probably gets a B. While Adalberto Mejia made it into Baseball America’s Top 100, Eduardo Nunez is currently an All-Star. Mejia will no doubt be a Major Leaguer, but scouts also said that about Heath Hembree, Gary Brown, Kyle Crick, and many many more players that have failed to get themselves to the top level.
So is this anything new? No. After all, Nunez is not going to be a two-month rental. The Giants gave up a prospect that was probably another two or three years away, and in return got an All-Star that they’ll have next year. If the Giants can put together another World Series run, Nunez would be foolish to not consider re-signing.
Trade Two: Will Smith for Andrew Susac and Phil Bickford
Will Smith, the reliever from the Milwaukee Brewers, wasn’t enjoying as much success this year as he did last year. However, he is coming relatively fresh off a torn LCL injury. In twenty-one games this year, Smith has a 3.68 ERA with a 1.23 WHIP. A strikeout-to-walk ratio of just over 2:1 isn’t too bad either. The best thing about Smith? He’s only thrown 274 innings in the big leagues. He’s also under contract until next year and he won’t be a free agent until after the 2019 season.
The Giants plan to use him as a long term replacement for Jeremy Affeldt. They have yet to find a pitcher who can fill in that “multiple inning and can face lefties or righties” role. It’s quite a difficult one to fill. But when you’re on the quest for rings, it’s a necessary piece.
While we focus on what the Giants acquired, it’s also necessary to talk about what they gave up. Was Smith really worth Andrew Susac AND Phil Bickford? The answer can be told by many scouts in the Giants organization.
Perspective: I was texting scout and I said “wow” on Bickford, great haul for #brewers. Scout said, “let’s talk in three years.”
— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) August 1, 2016
It’s clear the Giants organization themselves didn’t think too highly of him. The Brewers believe they are getting a front end pitcher, the Giants believe he may be a fourth starter at best. Susac was the backup catcher, until his dismal year in 2015. Injury and underperformance plagued the time Susac spent as a Giant, capped by Trevor Brown stealing his spot this spring.
Trade Three: The Blockbuster
Matt Moore was easily the best starting pitcher available this deadline. It was rumored, that the Los Angeles Dodgers were in the running for him. Instead, the Giants got him, forcing the Dodgers to go for Jesse Chavez and Rich Hill. Moore was definitely the blockbuster acquisition for the Giants. Tommy John and a slow start sort of derailed his 2015 and the start of his 2016 season.
But Moore has had a 1.90 ERA in his last five games, and the late movement/velocity on his stuff has seen an uptick recently as well. Moore is expected to slot into the Giants rotation between Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. Moore has an extremely team friendly deal, a contract loaded with team options that only max out at $10 million.
Getting a pitcher like Moore doesn’t come without cost. The Giants gave up starting third-baseman Matt Duffy, a top prospect in Lucius Fox, and another right-hander few had heard about. Really the only two losses seem to be Fox and Duffy. Duffy was having a pretty average year, and had the lowest OPS of all third-baseman in the National League. Fox? His only MLB-ready asset was his speed. Despite being only 18 years old, he has had a good year in the lower levels. The biggest thing for Fox was that he’s nowhere near MLB ready, and he had a Gold Glove shortstop sitting in front of him. The position block is a large thing, and moving Duffy clears up a place for the Giants No. 1 prospect, Christian Arroyo.
The Giants lost a catcher who’s only shot was to be a backup in SF, a pitcher who’s velocity was declining, a pitching prospect missing third and fourth pitches, a below-average hitting third baseman, an extremely raw prospect, and a pitcher that the organization won’t miss. The 2016 season put two into their real perspective. Susac wasn’t a major league hitter and still lacked the pitch framing qualities necessary to the big league catcher’s role. Duffy’s numbers came back to earth.
One of the biggest concerns within the organization was whether or not Arroyo would have a position block by the time he becomes major league ready. The moment Duffy got hurt, Arroyo started playing third base in Double-A Richmond. According to Giants Insider for CSN Bay Area, Arroyo is close to being ready.
Evans said he doesn’t think Arroyo is “that far away.” Worth noting that Sabean watched Richmond all week, Arroyo has played lot of 3B.
— Alex Pavlovic (@AlexPavlovic) August 1, 2016
On top of the whole “long term third-base” situation, the Giants have added a fourth starter that is locked up on a cheap, long-term deal. While it bumps Jake Peavy out of the rotation, it helps a lot in the next few years to have Moore on cheap contracts. The Giants will end up having to pay Cueto and Madison Bumgarner, assuming Cueto opts out after the 2017 season, and the market for the elite pitchers is getting steeper. So the Giants get: A spot open for Arroyo, a cheap and controllable starter, and a “swiss-army knife” reliever. That all came for the price of a few expendable pieces, and one possible solid player. Not too bad.
The Dodgers are Left to Scramble
Giants fans should really be happy about how this affected their main NL West threat. The Dodgers just may be without Clayton Kershaw for the rest of the season, lost Zack Greinke to free agency, and have Hyun-jin Ryu on the 60-day DL. It’s likely that Ryu won’t be back for this season as well. Moore was, and should have been, their top target. Instead? They ended up getting 36-year-old Rich Hill and Josh Reddick.
If the Dodgers had managed to get Moore, they too could enjoy the contract that he comes with. Instead, they overpaid with some top prospects to get potential two-month rentals. Chalk that up as a win for the Giants. To add to the Dodgers trade woes, they nabbed Jesse Chavez from the Blue Jays. Chavez is an interesting piece, but not the type to replace Kershaw/Greinke/Ryu in their rotation.
Surprisingly, the Dodgers have kept pace with the Giants. A lot of that can be attributed to the Giants collapse post All-Star break. But this Giants team is definitely capable of playing better. The question down the stretch will be: can the Dodgers really play better than they already are? If they can’t, they probably won’t be able to keep pace with the Giants when they get it together.