The Giants have made a series of roster moves prior to tonight’s game against the Braves. The contracts of outfielder Willie Calhoun and right-hander Cole Waites were selected from Triple-A, and roster space was created by the placement of Tommy La Stella on the 10-day injured list, outfielder Austin Dean being optioned to Triple-A, and catcher Patrick Mazeika being designated for assignment.
La Stella is dealing with neck spasms, and given the calendar, it is possible La Stella might be shut down for the remainder of the 2022 season if he isn’t making progress by the time his 10-day minimum is up. The IL has become an unfortunately familiar landing spot for La Stella over his two years in San Francisco, as he played in only 76 games in 2021 and 60 games this season due to a long list of health issues. The infielder didn’t make his 2022 debut until mid-May due to recovery from offseason Achilles surgery.
All of these injuries have limited La Stella’s production, as he has hit only .239/.282/.350 over 195 plate appearances this year. He has also mostly been limited to DH duty, which is a hit for a player valued for his ability to play third, second, and first base. If this is indeed it for La Stella in 2022, the Giants can only hope that a full winter of rest can get him back to his usual defensive role(s) in what will be the final year of his contract. La Stella signed a three-year, $18.75MM free agent deal in February 2021 that to date hasn’t panned out for the Giants.
Calhoun was acquired in a trade with the Rangers in June, and the slugger will now make his first Major League appearance outside of a Texas uniform. A 21-homer season in 2019 seemingly served as a breakout for Calhoun, but several injuries and a lack of big league playing time stalled his career. Calhoun was vocal about his desire for a trade after the Rangers optioned him to Triple-A earlier this season, as he’ll now get a fresh start with a late-season audition with the Giants.
Thus far, the change of organization seems to have helped, as Calhoun has hit .299/.386/.465 with five homers in 166 PA with Triple-A Sacramento. Carrying that production from the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League to the majors will be a challenge, though if Calhoun can show some of his old form down the stretch, he could put himself into San Francisco’s plans for 2023. Calhoun still has two years of arbitration control remaining, and he doesn’t turn 28 until November.
Waites was an 18th-round selection for the Giants in the 2019 draft, and the righty is getting his first call to the majors. Due to both knee surgery and the canceled 2020 minor league season, Waites doesn’t have a lot of pro experience, with only 71 1/3 total innings in the minors (40 2/3 of them this year). However, he has a stunning 45.12% strikeout rate and 2.78 ERA over those 71 1/3 frames, though his 13.8% walk rate indicates shaky command.
Baseball America (21st) and MLB Pipeline (29th) each rank Waites among the top 30 prospects in the Giants’ farm system, citing his plus fastball that can touch 100mph, as well as a slider that can be a dominant pitch when Waites can control it. Waites has pitched exclusively as a reliever over the last two seasons, and projects as an intriguing bullpen arm if he can limit the free passes.
Mazeika was claimed off waivers from the Mets on August 21, and he’ll now return to DFA limbo after eight games with the Giants’ Triple-A affiliate and no appearances at the big league level. A long-time member of the Mets farm system, Mazeika has played in 61 MLB games over the 2021-22 seasons and hit .190/.236/.279 over 159 PA. With Joey Bart now back from the concussion-related IL, San Francisco has made some adjustments to its catching depth in recent days, including Mazeika’s DFA and Andrew Knapp’s outright assignment to Triple-A.