Monday signified the trade deadline for Major League Baseball, and both Bay Area teams had some deals to make.
In mid-July the A’s traded the Cleveland Indians cash for pitcher Ross Detwiler and I covered their recent trade with the Kansas City Royals. The Giants also made a trade prior to Monday’s deadline, sending Aldaberto Mejia to the Minnesota Twins for Eduardo Nunez.
The trade deadline is usually July 31st at 4pm EST, but due to the 31st being on a Sunday this year, baseball moved it back until 4pm EST today, and that allowed teams an entire extra 24 hours to get deals done. They did not disappoint.
The A’s spent today ditching one of their top players in Josh Reddick, sending him along with pitcher Rich Hill to the Los Angeles Dodgers in return for three pitching prospects; RHP Frankie Montas, RHP Grant Holmes, and RHP Jharel Cotton. Out of the three, Montas is the only one with big league experience, appearing in seven games last season for the Chicago White Sox. In 15 innings, he gave up 8 earned runs while walking 9 and striking out 20. Looks like he has the potential to have some stuff, but needs to work on command.
The move isn’t that surprising coming from a team that likes to trade well known players for future prospects that they can get cheaper. Reddick wasn’t going to be cheap for his next contract, and the Dodgers are looking for outfield and pitching help. It’s hard to know whether Reddick or Hill was the focal point of this trade, but the Dodgers upgraded at both positions. Trayce Thompson has regressed since having a great first half, and the Dodger starting rotation has been hit hard by injuries all year. The A’s are likely out of the race this year, while the Dodgers are just two games behind the San Francisco Giants.
Speaking of the Giants, they were busy as the clock slowly winded toward 1pm on the West Coast. The Giants opened up the day by trading catcher Andrew Susac and pitcher Phil Bickford to the Milwaukee Brewers for pitcher Will Smith.
With the emergence of Trevor Brown behind Buster Posey and Susac’s concussion history, it was becoming apparent he would be expendable. Phil Bickford was one of the Giants’ top pitching prospects, but teams going for a championship don’t worry about prospects. The Giants have also been burned by more than their fair share of prospects that haven’t panned out. Chris Stratton, Kyle Crick, and Clayton Blackburn have all been in the system nearly as long as Tim Lincecum was, but none of have panned out at the major league level yet. It’s become apparent to anyone that watches the Giants this year, they need help in the bullpen. Will Smith will look to be that help, shoring up a bullpen that really only has two reliable pitchers in Hunter Strickland and Derek Law. The Giants called up Matt Reynolds to take Josh Osich’s role, and now Will Smith will attempt to strengthen the ‘pen even further, although his numbers against left handed hitters are a little concerning, being as he’s a left handed pitcher. I’d expect to see Bochy continue to use Javier Lopez as his lefty specialist, while using Reynolds and Smith as traditional relievers.
The second move the Giants made will likely be met with criticism from irrational fans. The Giants sent third baseman Matt Duffy, along with shortstop Lucius Fox and pitcher Michael Santos to the Tampa Bay Rays for starting pitcher Matt Moore.
Giants fans fell in love with Duffy last season after he took over for departed Pablo Sandoval and slugged his way to second in Rookie of the Year voting, just behind the Cubs’ Kris Bryant. Giants fans assumed Duffy was the third baseman of the future, and he had definitely earned his spot on this season’s Opening Day roster. However, he had the common “sophomore slump” and before getting injured looked much more like the utility player he was projected to be. In his absence, Conor Gillaspie, Ramiro Pena, Ruben Tejada, and the recently acquired Eduardo Nunez have filled in just fine. With the move, Nunez will probably take over daily third base duties with Gillaspie filling in. Nunez’s versatility also should allow the Giants to play both of them together when Crawford or Panik need a day off. Lucius Fox may be a good prospect but with the extension the Giants offered Crawford in the off-season, it was clear that Fox was blocked at the big league level.
Matt Moore looks to fit into the Giants’ starting rotation, probably replacing either Jake Peavy or Matt Cain. With the Giants rotation rolling over on Tuesday, they have a few days to decide what corresponding move to make. Moore has experienced injuries in each of the last two seasons, but has looked good recently, with an ERA of just 1.99 since June 29. Overall this season, he is 7-7 in 21 starts with a 4.08 ERA. That ERA should come down with a friendlier ballpark than Tropicana Field, and a better defensive team behind him.
Only time will tell which teams won these trades. As usual, the A’s traded to get better in the future, while the Giants attempted to improve right now. Now it’s a race to October.