The Giants’ surge up the standings this month has turned them from surefire trade deadline sellers to potential buyers. To that end, the Giants have “inquired” about Blue Jays infielder Eric Sogard, Jon Morosi of MLB.com tweets.
Considering the 33-year-old Sogard is a pending free agent, acquiring him would be a win-now move by the Giants, who have climbed to 52-51 and within 3 1/2 of a wild-card spot. Sogard is primarily a second baseman – a position that has that has been problematic this season for San Francisco. Main Giants option Joe Panik has struggled to a .235/.309/.317 line with a 69 wRC+ and three home runs over 369 plate appearances. Sogard, meanwhile, has slashed a far superior .299/.363/.480 (124 wRC+) with 10 HRs in 317 trips to the plate.
As MLBTR’s Jeff Todd explained a couple weeks ago, Sogard’s production doesn’t look sustainable – especially factoring in that he has seldom approached it over a career consisting of 2,000-plus trips to the plate. Nevertheless, Sogard’s 2019 offensive output, defensive versatility and league-minimum salary should make it easy to for rebuilding Toronto to find a taker in the next few days.
Whether the Giants should buy Sogard or anyone else is up for debate, depending on how much you’re convinced of their sudden brilliance. If the club goes the other way by the 31st, it still has several useful trade chips it could unload, including reliever Tony Watson. The Cardinals, who are seeking another left-hander for their bullpen, have done their “due diligence” on Watson, according to Mark Saxon of The Athletic. However, the Redbirds are leery of the escalator clauses in his contract, per Saxon.
Watson’s current salary has skyrocketed from a guaranteed $3.5MM to $8.5MM with the help of incentives, and it could increase to $10.5MM if he accrues 50 appearances. That seems inevitable for the 34-year-old, who has already piled up 44 this season. Along the way, the typically reliable Watson has thrown 41 innings and pitched to a 2.85 ERA (with a much less dominant 4.20 FIP) while posting 6.8 K/9, 1.1 BB/9 and a 46.9 percent groundball rate.
Regardless of whether Watson finishes the season in San Francisco or elsewhere, a trip to free agency looks probable for the winter. Watson’s pact features a $2.5MM club option for 2020, though it’s likely he’ll turn that down in favor of a $500K buyout. Meantime, it’s iffy at best the Giants will trade Watson, let alone to a wild card-leading Cardinals team they’re trying to chase down.