The Giants announced Friday that they’ve selected the contract of outfielder Austin Dean and placed right-hander Dominic Leone on the 15-day injured list due to elbow inflammation. Catcher/outfielder Yermin Mercedes was outrighted off the 40-man roster after clearing waivers, thus opening a spot for Dean, tweets Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area.
Dean, 28, has spent time in the Majors in each of the past four seasons, primarily as a member of the Marlins but also in brief stints with the Cardinals in 2020-21. He’s a .225/.282/.391 hitter in that time but carries a strong track record at the Triple-A level, where he’s posted a .300/.373/.509 batting line in 1090 career plate appearances.
Dean will give the Giants yet another right-handed option to platoon with an all-lefty outfield contingent of Joc Pederson, Mike Yastrzemski, Luis Gonzalez and LaMonte Wade Jr. (the latter of whom is primarily playing first base lately, with Brandon Belt out of action). Dean’s career numbers against lefties at the MLB level aren’t great, but he’s batted .299/.384/.486 when holding the platoon advantage in the minors this season.
Dean’s return to the Majors comes at the expense of Mercedes, who was never formally designated for assignment prior to today’s announcement that he’d cleared waivers. The 29-year-old was an early-season sensation for the White Sox in 2021, going on a tear and earning his popular “Yerminator” moniker by hitting .368/.417/.571 through the South Siders’ first 38 games. But Mercedes’ out-of-the-blue breakout proved short-lived. He hit .150/.220/.196 across his next 118 plate appearances, was optioned to Triple-A in July, and didn’t return to the Majors with the Sox. He’s batted .233/.325/.342 in 83 plate appearances with the Giants this year.
As for Leone, he’ll head to the injured list with an issue that, depending on the recovery period, could well end his time with the Giants, given that he’ll be a free agent at season’s end. The 30-year-old righty at first proved a spectacular pickup on a Dec. 2020 minor league contract, as he wound up giving the Giants 53 2/3 innings of 1.51 ERA ball as an oft-used member of the bullpen (and an occasional opener).
Leone got out to a nice start in 2022, as well, pitching to a 2.45 ERA with a 32-to-9 K/BB ratio through his first 32 1/3 innings on the season. Leone was rocked for four runs in just a third of an inning against the D-backs on July 5, however, and he’s never really regained his footing. Dating back to that rocky outing, he’s lugging a 6.30 ERA and a 15.5% walk rate that’s six percentage points higher than his career mark. It’s fair to wonder just how much this elbow issue might’ve impacted his performance, but the result is an ERA that has spiked up to 4.01 through 49 1/3 frames of bullpen work.
Leone pitched just last night, so the IL stint can’t be backdated. He’ll be eligible to return on Sept. 24, at which point there will be 12 days left in the season.