Over the past month, it had become clear that the last player manager Bruce Bochy wanted to use off his bench was Austin Jackson – and that’s saying a lot considering that Hunter Pence is also on his bench.
And it also became clear the last pitcher he wanted to use in a high-leverage situation was Cory Gearrin.
On Sunday morning, the San Francisco Giants dropped some dead weight for their roster by trading both Jackson and Gearrin to the Texas Rangers.
And what did the Giants get in return? Well, in short, nothing – at least for now.
The trade involved the Giants sending Jackson, Gearrin and pitching prospect Jason Bahr to Texas for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
And it appears the Rangers have little interest in Jackson. The team reportedly informed the outfielder not to report to the club right away. The Rangers have little use for another outfielder and will look to flip Jackson to another team, or potentially designate him for assignment if a trade partner can’t be found.
So why in the world would the Rangers take on more than $6 million in guaranteed salary when most of that money is going to a player they don’t even want or need?
Well the answer is they must really like what they’ve seen in Bahr.
Bahr is a 23-year-old right-handed pitcher who was drafted in the fifth round by the Giants in the 2017 draft out of Central Florida.
After posting a 3.55 ERA in seven starts (13 appearances) for short-season A Salem-Keizer last summer, Bahr has had a solid first full season in the minors with the Giants’ two full-season Class A clubs.
Bahr was 6-4 with a 2.75 ERA in 13 starts for low-A Augusta, striking out 88 and walking 21 in 68.2 innings. He was recently promoted to high-A San Jose, where he went 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in three starts, fanning 15 and walking just two in 16 innings.
Last winter, the Giants signed Jackson to a two-year deal, hoping the veteran outfielder could play all three outfield positions and be a big threat in the lineup against left-handed pitching.
Well, Jackson did hit 100 points higher against lefties than righties, but that’s largely because he hit just .188 against righties this season.
Jackson started the season in a lefty-righty platoon in center field with Gregor Blanco. But Blanco was eventually sent to Triple-A, and Jackson went to the bench when Gorkys Hernandez, who also bats right-handed, proved a better options offensively and defensively in center field.
Jackson is still owed $3.5 million in 2019, plus a $500,000 buyout in 2020. Add the back half of his $3 million salary this season, and the Giants were on the hook for about $5.5 million to Jackson.
Jackson had made just two starts – 15 plaste appearances — since June 13.
Likewise, Gearrin has spent most of the past six weeks being called on to pitch when the Giants were trailing or leading by a large margin.
Since May 20, Gearrin had made just one appearance with the Giants holding a lead of three runs or fewer, and that came on July 1 when he was asked to get one out in the fourth with the Giants up on Arizona 4-3.
Gearrin is making $1.68 million this year and has one more year of arbitration left.
By clearing Jackson and Gearrin off the books, the Giants open room on their payroll to potentially add another veteran player in a trade, if they decide.
It also opens up room on the roster to look at two players performing well in the minors – outfielder Steven Duggar and reliever Ray Black.
Duggar was a sixth-round pick in 2015 out of Clemson. He impressed the Giants in the spring, particularly with his glove, as he challenged for a spot on the roster.
He was eventually sent to Triple-A Sacramento, where he hit .272 with a .354 OBP in 78 games. He still strikes out a butt-ton of times for a guy who doesn’t hit for power – 103 in 356 plate appearances.
It seems odd that the Giants, who are currently carrying just one reserve infielder and have two other infielders who can play the outfield (Alen Hanson and Brandon Belt) that the Giants would add a second reserve outfielder. But Duggar is a plus defender and gives the Giants a left-handed option off the bench, which they have been lacking.
The more exciting addition to the roster is Black, a 28-year-old righthander who was drafted out of the University of Pittsburgh in 2014.
Black can touch 100 mph on the radar, something the Giants really haven’t had in their bullpen before. Black battled injury and control problems in his five seasons in the minors.
But this year has been different. He started out at Double-A Richmond, where he posted a 0.90 ERA in 10 outings, striking out 20 of the 38 batters he faced, while walking just four.
After a promotion to Triple-A Sacramento, he had a 2.91 ERA in 22 outings, striking out 38 in 21.2 innings, while walking seven.
Both Duggar and Black were added to the Giants’ 40-man roster and activated after the trade Sunday morning.