I went into Monday thinking that if the Giants didn’t make a deal at the trade deadline, that wouldn’t be the most terrible thing in the world.
But then things took a turn to the left.
The Giants made the biggest splash on trade deadline day perhaps ever, acquiring two left-handed pitchers – starter Matt Moore from the Rays and reliever Will Smith from the Brewers.
And the price for both was steep. Heading to the Rays is third baseman Matt Duffy, infield prospect Lucious Fox and minor-league pitcher Michael Santos.
Going to Milwaukee is pitcher Phil Bickford, the Giants’ top prospect, and Triple-A catcher Andrew Susac.
So let’s break down these deals.
Who the Giants got?
MATT MOORE: Moore is a 27-year-old left-hander who is 39-28 with 3.88 ERA in six big league seasons. He was an All-Star in 2013 when he went 17-4 with 3.29 ERA. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2014 and came back to make 12 starts in 2015, going 3-4 with 5.43 ERA.
This season, he is 7-7 with 4.08 ERA. But in his last six starts since June 29, Moore is 4-2 with a 1.99 ERA.
He has a very friendly contract. He is making $5 million this season and the Giants hold team options of $7 million in 2017, $9 million in 2018 and $10 million in 2019.
WILL SMITH: Smith is also a 27-year-old lefty who has a 3.94 ERA in five big-league seasons. He began his career in 2012 as a starter with the Royals, going 6-9 with 5.32 ERA. After moving the bullpen in 2013, he was traded to the Brewers for the 2014 season. That year, he led the league in appearances with 78. Last year, he went 7-2 with 2.70 ERA.
He had a very Jeremy Affeldt-like start to the 2016 season. During spring training, he was heading to the shower when he stood on one foot to remove his cleat. But the shoe didn’t come off easily – loosen the laces, Will? – and he twisted his knee. That led to arthroscopic surgery, and he didn’t make his 2016 debut until June. He’s been pitching with a knee brace since the surgery.
He is 1-2 with 3.68 ERA and 12 holds this season. But on June 23, he had a 1.93 ERA, then he had an ugly outing, giving up five runs, four earned, without recording an out against the Cubs. With just 22 innings worked this season, that outing caused his ERA to balloon.
But I took a closer looking at that outing, something that sabermetricians often do not do.
In that outing, Smith came into the game with one out and no one on base. He gave up a solid single to right by Miguel Montero. Then Matt Szczur hit a ball sharply to third, which was booted by the third baseman. So instead of an inning-ending double play, there are now runners on first and second. Tommy La Stella followed by hitting a ball – not especially hard – over the first baseman’s head for a double, and one scored. Kris Bryant was walked intentionally, then Anthony Rizzo followed with the double to the right-center field wall, clearing the bases. Again, Rizzo’s ball was not scorched. It went about 270-300 feet, then rolled the rest of the way to the wall, perfectly placed. Smith was pulled, and Rizzo eventually scored the fifth run of the inning.
So if the third baseman turns the double play – as he should have – Smith’s ERA right now would be 1.99.
Over his career, Smith has been able to get lefties out as well as righties, much like Affeldt. But this season, things have been kind of backward. Lefties are hitting .316 against Smith, while righties are .143. However, the OBP split is .333/.288 lefty-righty.
Smith is make $1.475 million this season and is arbitration eligible 2017-2019.
Where do the new guys fit on the roster?
MOORE: He goes into the rotation. Moore last pitched last Wednesday vs. the Dodgers. It would not be a surprise to see Bruce Bochy drop Moore into the rotation right after Johnny Cueto, which would make his Giants debut on Thursday against the Phillies.
Jake Peavy or Matt Cain go to the bullpen as the long reliever/swing man. It’s a role neither has played. Peavy has only made one relief appearance in his career (in 2011). Cain has only made three relief appearances, and two came last season when he was coming back from injury. I would bet it’s Peavy who gets bumped for the rotation. He is a free agent after this season, while Cain is under contract for three more seasons. Maybe Peavy could be moved in a waiver trade.
Look for Albert Suarez to head to Sacramento to make room for Moore on the 25-man roster. No need to clear spot on 40-man as Moore replaces Duffy.
SMITH: He goes into the pen. With Josh Osich on the DL, Smith will fill the role as left-handed set-up man, pitching in the seventh or eighth inning. Matt Reynolds will return to Sacramento. No need to clear spot on 40-man roster, as Smith replaces Susac.
Who did the Giants give up?
MATT DUFFY: Duffy became a more movable piece after the Giants picked up Eduardo Nunez last week. Nunez will be the Giants’ third baseman for the rest of the season. Duffy was runner-up for NL Rookie of the Year in 2014. He was hitting .253 with 4 HR and 21 RBI in 70 games before going on the DL with a strained Achilles in mid-June. Duffy had been hitting well early in his rehab stint in Sacramento. He is not arbitration eligible until after the 2017 season. Nunez is under contract for 2017, then the Giants could possibly turn to Christian Arroyo, their new No. 1 prospect, at 3B.
LUCIUS FOX: A shortstop, Fox signed a $6 million international contract last summer after graduating high school in Florida and moving back to his native Bahamas. At 19, he was hitting .207 with 25 steals in 75 games for low-A Augusta. He was rated as the Giants’ No. 4 prospect by MLB.com before Monday’s trades. But was not rated a top-100 prospect by MLB.com or Baseball America.
MICHAEL SANTOS: The 21-year-old right-hander was rated as the Giants’ No. 24 prospect at the trade. He was 4-2 with 2.91 ERA in 10 starts to low-A Augusta. He missed some time this season after being hit in the head by a line drive.
PHIL BICKFORD: The 21-year-old righthander was the Giants’ No. 1 prospect. He was rated No. 65 prospect overall by MLB.com after not being in the top 100 at the start of the season. The No. 18 overall pick in the 2015 draft, he can 98 mph with his fastball. He was 3-4 with 2.70 ERA with low-A Augusta this season before being promoted to high-A San Jose, where he was 2-2 with 2.73 ERA. He has 105 strikeouts in 93 innings at both levels this season.
ANDREW SUSAC: Drafted in the second round of the 2011 draft after an injury-filled season at Oregon State, Susac made it to the majors in 2014, when he hit .273 with 3 HR and 19 RBI in 35 games. Injuries limited his time in the bigs in 2015, when he hit .218 with 3 HR and 14 RBI in 52 games. Injuries again played a role in Susac falling behind Trevor Brown on the Giants’ depth chart. He was hitting .273 with 8 HR and 36 RBI in 58 games in Triple-A Sacramento. With Buster Posey a fixture at catcher and Trevor Brown playing well as his backup, there was not much room for Susac. Plus Aramis Garcia, currently at high-A San Jose, is now the Giants’ No. 6 prospect.