Monday, August 1, 2016

Scouting the Trade Deadline: Giants Trade Farm for Two Lefties

Welp!  I can't say I saw all of that coming!  With the trade deadline closing in fast the Giants pulled the trigger on 2 more trades which brought them long rumored target, LHP Will Smith, from the Brewers and a more recently rumored target, LHP Matt Moore, from the Tampa Bay Rays.  The cost was, hold your breath here, RHP Phil Bickford and C Andrew Susac to the BrewCrew plus  3B Matt Duffy, SS Lucius Fox and RHP Michael Santos to the Rays.  That seems like a lot to give up, but as I have said all along, the Giants farm system has whole lot more depth than high end talent. You knew that to get anything of value in trade, it was going to take more than just 1 or even 2.

I like how a commenter put it earlier today.  Think of this as a single trade with the Giants acquiring Nunez, Smith and Moore and giving up Mejia, Duffy, Bickford, Susac, Fox and Santos.  We'll break it down from there, but first of all, a huge key to this is that Nunez has 1 more year of control on his contract while Smith and Moore both have 3 with Moore in particular having very team friendly options over the next 3 seasons.  We'll start with the players the Giants acquired:

*Eduardo Nunez IF:  Positives- 1.  Nice combination of hitting for average, power and SB's with a low K rate.  Has a chance to hit .300 with 15/40 HR/SB.  2.  Can play multiple positions.  3.  1 year of contract control after this season.  Negatives- 1.  Is not a plus defender at any 1 position.  2.  Does not walk much.

You could see the writing on the wall for Duffy once the Giants traded for Nunez.  I mean, where else was Nunez going to play if not 3B?  Crawford and Panik were not going anywhere!  Nunez will now get most of his PT at 3B.

*Will Smith LHP:  Positives- 1.  Smith is a rare LHP who can pitch out of the bullpen and go more than 1 IP, and even close if necessary.  2.  His contract is under team control through 2019.  Negatives:  Has struggled in recent appearances although his last 3 apps were some better.

The Giants needed a replacement for the Jeremy Affeldt role.  Josh Osich may be that guy someday, but he's battled inconsistency this year and is currently on the DL with a forearm strain, although he insists he is fine and could pitch now if he had to.  Now Osich can work his way into his MLB role without the pressure of having to replace Affeldt.

*Matt Moore LHP:  Positives:  1.  High ceiling LHP who was once one of the most highly rated pitching prospects in the game.  He has been living up to that over his last 9 starts with a 2.39 ERA.  2.  He has a highly team friendly contract with low cost team options over the next 3 seasons.  Negatives- Has been somewhat inconsistent so far in his career and is in his first full season post TJ surgery.

It's unclear who he will replace in the Giants rotation or if the Giants have something else up their sleeve like a 6 man rotation or of Moore will be a swingman until next season when Peavy will presumably be gone.  I would think he will somehow be in the rotation as he is likely an immediate upgrade on at least 3 of the Giants current SP's, Samardzija, Peavy and Cain.


Now let's review who the Giants gave up:

*Adalberto Mejia LHP:  Positives- 1. Big lefty with SP potential.  2. Great command from an early age.  3. Took a big step forward in AA this season and earned a promotion to AAA.  Negatives- 1.  Average to above average stuff.  Ceiling likely limited to no more than a #3 SP, more likely a #4 or #5.  2.  Inconsistent after his promo to AAA.

Mejia always seemed like a pitcher who the Giants would eventually trade away.  Just good enough to interest other teams but with limited ceiling.

*Matt Duffy IF:  Positives- 1. Huge fan favorite.  2. Almost fairy-tale ascent to the major leagues.  3.  Willie Mac Award winner just last year.  4. Scrappy hitter with low K rate.  5.  Plus defense at 3B.  Negatives- 1. Offense in 2015 was likely BABIP enhanced and not likely to be sustained.  2.  Currently injured with an Achilles strain.  Had just started rehab games.  3.  Body type may not hold up under the long term grind of MLB.

Yeah this one hurt a lot, but you could kind of sense it coming, especially after the Nunez trade.  Arroyo is the Giants 3B of the future and Nunez is an immediate upgrade on Duffy until Arroyo arrives.

*Phil Bickford RHP:  Positives- 1. Highest rated Giants prospect in some midseason rankings(though not mine).  2. Dominant numbers at 2 levels in his first full pro season.  3. Best FB in the system by some rankings, though not the highest velocity.  Negatives- 1.  Velocity reportedly in the low 90's and stuff did not impress in his Futures Game appearance.  2. Some debate among analysts about whether he projects as a SP or RP.  3.  Some thought that his delivery may make him injury prone.

As the Trade Deadline closed in, you started seeing Bickford's name more and more as a prospect the Giants would be willing to trade.  Is this a vote of confidence in Beede or did other teams want Bickford more than Beede?

*Andrew Susac C:  Positives- 1.  Catcher with MLB experience.  2.  Seemed to have regained his health and was a hot hitter in Sacramento.  3. Presence in Sacramento gave the Giants tremendous depth at the Catcher position.  Negatives:  1.  Long history of injuries.  2.  Defense and game management slow to develop and may never be plus.

Once Susac got healthy and started hitting in Sacramento, he became an obvious trade target with Trevor Brown firmly ensconced in the backup catcher role in SF.  Trading Susac, though, creates a significant depth issue at catcher.  Giants better hope both Posey and Brown stay healthy.

*Lucius Fox SS:  Positives- 1.  As high a ceiling as any prospect in the Giants system.  2.  5-tool player.  3.  Flashes of brilliance in Low A ball, an aggressive placement for his age and experience. Negatives-  1.  Very young and many years of development away from the major leagues.  2. Has yet to prove he can consistently hit pro pitching.

This was the biggest surprise to me.  I never ever would have expected the Giants to trade Fox after handcuffing their next 2 years worth of international signings by exceeding their bonus pool to sign him.  Guess I should have known though.  Giants have never let things like that stand in the way of a deadline trade.

*Michael Santos RHP:  Positives- High ceiling pitching prospect.  Negatives- 1. Injured most of this year.  2. Disappointing performance in his few appearances this year.

Guys like Santos are intriguing because of their ceiling, but almost never make it all the way to the majors.

In summary, I like these deals for the following reasons:

1.  The 3 acquisitions fill 3 immediate needs that had to be filled for the Giants to be serious contenders down the stretch.

2.  All 3 acquisitions address future needs and hedge against a very weak FA class this upcoming offseason.  No 2 month rentals here.

3.  The Giants have tremendous depth in their farm system. None of the traded players are a separate level of prospect from multiple prospects they have left.  Better yet, they hung onto he top 2 prospects on my list, Arroyo and Beede as well as Mac Williamson.


  1. So with Moore and Smith coming over who gets sent down? Osich will be back from the DL soon as well.

    1. I think Osich has options, so he stays down. I think either Suarez or Kontos are on the hot seat after that.

  2. I was coming home from work when I heard about the trades on the radio. At one point in time someone had speculated/stated that Shaw had been traded because Belt had him blocked. I was like 'Bickford AND Shaw AND Duffy AND Fox...' NOOOOOO!!!!!!' Thankfully as the trades were made official and the guessing games stopped it shook out that Shaw wasn't traded.

    Later, last night, ESPN had a 'who won vote' on the trades:

    Moore -- The voting base is definitely calling the Giants (66%) the winner of the Moore trade and I've got to agree there.
    Smith -- That's a push with 52% saying the Giants won.

    I do, personally, like the Moore trade even though we sent Duffy and Fox. Not only do we not have to jump into the very weak pitcher market next FA, I read up on him after the trade and I think we really got a pitcher who is better than his numbers have been this year.

    The basic thing I read (Fangraphs) was that Moore had been tinkering with his mechanics and had put a twist in them. He had a 7.66 in May because of that. So after that failure he simplified his mechanics (dropping the twist) at the end of May. This paid great dividends and his ERA for June was 3.72 and an even better 2.41 for July.

    He does have a problem with HRs. But I think some of it is an AL East thing.

    Anyway, I'm happy with the Moore trade as a back-end starter was, to me, something we really needed, especially as Samardzija has really come apart the past two months and Cain & Peavy being so unreliable (each only having one good month, so far, this year).

  3. Only time will tell if this works out as well as the last time we traded a popular third basemen. Sabean was called an idiot for that one and was vindicated, I hope the same can be said for Evans.

  4. How valuable was Duffy?
    Giants were 44-26 with him this year and just concluded their 2nd 8-game win streak in, of all places, Tampa Bay when he went down. Giants continued playing well winning 13 of 19 going into the ASG with contributions from the "new guys" which seemed to catch up with them after the break.
    This is all conjecture, but before Núñez, SF was missing a piece and the whole team was failing with RISP. Apparently slumping like hitting is contagious.
    The past weekend does not a season make but things just looked better winning two from Washington. I was at Sunday's game and there was an aura of confidence we would win although it took offensive and defensive mistakes by the Nationals to secure victory. Even Casilla seemed confident.
    We will miss the Duffman but those 2 pitchers have to help what was becoming a manager's nightmare. Of course, Pence, Panik, and a ML 3Bman help, too.
    One more thing, and this is cherry-picking at the extreme, Giants are 5-3 in Cain's last 8 games, he's 3-2, and his numbers although still inconsistent, are fair in that stretch, certainly good enough for a #5. Wherever Moore pitches there will be an improvement and it will be good to pair a lefty with Bumgarner. Whether he slides into 3 or 4, there will be a L-R-L-R sequence in the rotation. Isn't that supposed to be good?

  5. Good trades to plug holes and maintain flexibility. Smith was 3rd LH on market. Not sure about Moore. I like Nunez but rather have Duffy defense. And elephant in the room...who's outta the rotation? Gotta be Peavy I think. It's clear our GM felt the pitching was leaky.

  6. I am unimpressed with the Matt Moore trade. His peripherals do not back up the ERA he's had over the last 9 starts. In fact, his strikeout numbers have plummeted as the season has wore on. We basically traded a 4.9 WAR 3B and top prospects to get a pitcher only slightly better than Jake Peavy.

    So, while we still need to see how Moore performs going forward, my initial impression is that Evans and co. made a huge mistake.

    1. That is some pretty serious cherry picking of stats there, T.K. Duffy's projected fWAR this season before his injury was about 2.6. Moore has lowered his walk rate every MLB season so far and his K rate is up from last season.

    2. Fangraphs has an article on Bickford, pretty much detailing his recent drop in velocity and command. While things could turn back around for him, it looks like the Giants just plain lost confidence in him.

    3. It's your right. But I really doubt you're looking at the whole picture. He came back from Tommy John last year and struggled getting sent down to AAA for a while. This year he had a good April then, according to Fangraphs, started messing with his mechanics by adding a twist to his wind-up.

      His ERA in May was 7.66.

      He dropped the twist and had a good June and excellent July.

      Further, Fangraphs has noted that his pitches are getting back to the 2012/2013 Matt Moore. His FB velocity is up. The drop in his change-up is 6" more than his fastball (putting him in the top-10% of MLB pitchers) and he's sharpened up his curve-ball.

      So, take out the bad-decision of mechanics adjustments of May and add in his simplified, more stable mechanics with his general command and control improvements over his career... You've got LH pitcher who sits at 93MPH +-pitch fastball, a very good change up and a solid curve ball.

      Plus he's leaving the hitter's parks of the AL East which really punish flyball pitchers.

    4. I had a response I tried to post early, but it must have not gone through.

      Anyway, I am encouraged by the Fangraphs article and I trust the Giants FO (they are the professionals after all).

      As I posed in my earlier post, though, I still think Moore's peripherals this year are not incredibly encouraging. I mean, his FIP in June and July was 4.25 and 4.71, respectively, suggesting his ERA may not be the best metric by which to judge him. But, as the Fangraphs article pointed out, maybe he's finally starting to regain his pre-TJ stuff. (still would have been nice if his k/9 and bb/9 numbers in July reflected his supposed improvement)

      While I think Duffy was starting to turn his season around before he got hurt (112 RC+ and .288/.338/.424 in June), it could be that 2015 was a fluke for him. If that is the case (and that is the gamble the Giants are making), then trading him for a potential #3 starter was a smart idea.

    5. There's also a fairly high risk that Duffy season last year was a fluke. Granted, his D gives him a high floor, but his value is high right now. High enough that he was traded for a young pitcher with an incredibly team friendly deal. Arroyo's existence made this possible too. The cost of starting pitchers is high and the Giants have an uncanny ability to produce productive infielders.