- The Yankees and Giants were among the many teams that showed interest in outfielder Harold Ramirez during his brief stay on the open market last offseason, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. The Blue Jays outrighted Ramirez on Nov. 20, and he ended up signing a minor league deal with the Marlins exactly a week later. The 24-year-old has since given the offensively challenged Marlins some much-needed production, having slashed .346/.386/.449 (128 wRC+) in 83 plate appearances.
The Giants have placed catcher Buster Posey on their 10-day injured list due to a right hamstring strain (placement retroactive to June 2). To fill Posey’s roster spot, right-hander Trevor Gott has been activated from his own IL stint.
Posey hasn’t played since last Saturday, when he was forced out of the Giants’ game in the seventh inning while running out a grounder. The strain isn’t thought to be overly serious, though an IL stint was ultimately deemed necessary to give Posey full time to recover.
The longtime Giants catcher hasn’t hit much like his old self, with a modest .257/.321/.408 slash line and three home runs over 168 plate appearances. Posey underwent hip surgery last August but recovered quickly enough to make San Francisco’s Opening Day lineup, though he also missed a week in May on the seven-day concussion IL. It’s been a tough stretch overall for Posey, between these injuries and enduring what is looking like a third straight season of losing baseball in the Bay Area.
Gott was sidelined on May 25 with a forearm strain, though that worrisome diagnosis didn’t result in anything beyond a minimal stay on the injured list. The quick return allows Gott to continue what has been a very strong season, as the right-hander had a 3.00 ERA, 9.4 K/9, and 4.17 K/BB rate through 24 innings out of the Giants’ bullpen. If Gott is able to remain healthy and effective in the coming weeks, he could become a trade candidate for reliever-needy teams at the deadline.
It’s safe to say Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner will be one of the hottest commodities available leading up to the July 31 trade deadline. Bumgarner – set to turn 30 the day after the deadline (Aug. 1) – is among the game’s most accomplished hurlers in both the regular season and the playoffs, and he’s not under contract past this season. Thanks to the latter point, the out-of-contention Giants may elect to part with Bumgarner, who has been with the organization since it chose him 10th overall in the 2007 draft.
Going back to his 2010 debut in the majors, Bumgarner owns a sterling 3.07 ERA/3.26 FIP with 8.75 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and a 43.8 percent groundball rate in 1,712 1/3 innings. Bumgarner has added 102 /3 innings of 2.11 ERA playoff pitching to his resume, making him one of the game’s go-to hurler’s in key situations. He hasn’t pitched in the postseason since 2016, though, and hasn’t resembled the durable ace he once did earlier in his career.
Bumgarner amassed at least 200 innings of high-quality run prevention from 2011-16, but a dirt bike crash limited him to 111 frames in 2017, and a fractured pinky held him to 129 2/3 innings last season. All told, since Bumgarner’s six-year run of excellence came to an end, he has recorded a 3.46 ERA/3.88 FIP with 8.12 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a 40.8 percent grounder mark over 314 2/3 innings.
As shown by his output over the past few seasons, Bumgarner has remained a solid starter even as the Giants have fallen out of contention. Bumgarner’s not the ace-caliber option he once was, though, and with a few months’ control left (on a $12MM salary), San Francisco’s not in position to demand a king’s ransom for MadBum if it deals him in the next two months. The Giants don’t seem like a team that’s close to returning to glory, however, and they own of baseball’s worst farm systems. With that in mind, trading Bumgarner to bolster the franchise’s collection of young talent before the end of July could be a logical move for the organization.
If the Giants take the plunge and attempt to part with Bumgarner, there are several potential fits for the franchise icon. That said, one possible suitor may exit the mix by signing free-agent southpaw Dallas Keuchel, who could ink a contract any second from now, and Bumgarner’s eight-team no-trade clause means he’ll have a certain amount of say in where he goes next. Those factor’s won’t kill interest in Bumgarner, however, as shown below (in alphabetical order)….
- Angels: The Halos have gotten little from their rotation this season, but the Mike Trout-led club is still just 2 1/2 games out of wild-card position. That doesn’t mean the Angels will be in the Bumgarner sweepstakes, but if they really want to push for a playoff spot, they’ll need to upgrade their rotation. Free-agent signings Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill simply haven’t worked out to this point, leaving the Angels with a need for an established veteran in their starting five.
- Astros: Keuchel, Charlie Morton and the injured Lance McCullers Jr. have all left Houston’s rotation since last season, leaving Wade Miley, Brad Peacock and Corbin Martin to pick up the pieces behind Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. That’s not a bad group by any means, but Verlander and Cole act as the rising tide that lifts all boats. Bumgarner would look pretty nice behind them, though his limited no-trade clause gives him the right to nix a Giants-Astros deal.
- Braves: Atlanta’s one of the teams Bumgarner could block a trade to, but as a childhood Braves fan who grew up in the South (North Carolina), it’s tough to see him blocking a deal to Georgia. The need’s obvious for the Braves, whose rotation has lacked answers behind Mike Soroka, Max Fried and Julio Teheran this season.
- Brewers: Milwaukee’s rotation took a couple hits over the weekend in the form of injuries to Gio Gonzalez and Jhoulys Chacin, the latter of whom has trudged through a terrible season. Only Gonzalez, Brandon Woodruff, Zach Davies and Chase Anderson have given the Brewers’ rotation passable production this season, which leaves room for Bumgarner. However, they’re on Bumgarner’s no-trade list.
- Cardinals: There hasn’t been a lot to like in St. Louis’ shaky rotation this year, which could lead to a Bumgarner acquisition. The Redbirds are on his no-trade list, though.
- Mets: Whether the disappointing Mets would make an aggressive move to repair their rotation is in question, but the need exists. Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz could use a better complement than Jason Vargas.
- Padres: San Diego has been on the hunt for a front-line starter since the winter, and Bumgarner could fit the bill if the team’s bullish enough on him. The Padres, as an NL West rival, are certainly familiar enough with Bumgarner. He’d clearly strengthen a group which hasn’t received much from anyone but Chris Paddack, Joey Lucchesi, Matt Strahm or Eric Lauer. It’s worth noting the Padres are monitoring the workloads of Paddack and Strahm, which could limit their impact as the season progresses.
- Phillies: This has been a rather underwhelming season for Philadelphia’s rotation, including potential ace Aaron Nola. There’s obviously space for Bumgarner, though he’d have to approve a trade to the Phillies.
- Rangers: This is a long shot, but the Rangers are unexpectedly in wild-card contention and would benefit from Bumgarner. He’d join a team whose rotation has gotten little aside from Mike Minor, Lance Lynn and Ariel Jurado (over a mere three starts in Jurado’s case).
- Rays: The opener method has worked well for Tampa Bay, but the club has turned to that strategy largely because it’s lacking an adequate supply of credible starters. Bumgarner would give the Rays another legitimate traditional starter alongside Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow and Morton, assuming Glasnow returns this summer from a forearm strain.
- Red Sox: The reigning world champs are on Bumgarner’s no-trade list, but there’s a need for a rotation stabilizer in Beantown. Chris Sale hasn’t been his usual ace-like self, Nathan Eovaldi has been injured, and Rick Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez have only offered back-end production to this point. The luxury tax is a concern for the Red Sox, though – they’re at upward of $251MM in that regard, per Jason Martinez of Roster Resource, and will pay a 75 percent tax for every dollar spent over the $246MM mark while losing 10 spots in the 2020 draft.
- Rockies: Colorado’s rotation was a strength last year, but that hasn’t been the case this season despite the best efforts of German Marquez and Jon Gray. The club just demoted 2018 Cy Young contender Kyle Freeland to the minors. He, like Bumgarner, is a lefty.
- Twins: Judging by their interest in Keuchel, we know the first-place Twins aren’t content with their rotation. Bumgarner would fit in nicely in a quintet that hasn’t received much production after Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Kyle Gibson and Martin Perez.
- Yankees: New York’s yet another contender on Bumgarner’s no-trade list. That aside, the Yankees should be on the lookout for another starter. Ace Luis Severino hasn’t pitched at all this season on account of a lat strain, while No. 2 starter James Paxton has never been the most durable option. Meanwhile, 2019 standout Domingo German hasn’t exceeded 100 innings in a season since 2014 – when he was a Single-A pitcher – and the soon-to-be 39-year-old CC Sabathia’s hardly an endless source of innings in the twilight of his career.
Of the 14 teams listed above, some are better positioned to land Bumgarner than others, as shown in the most recent farm system rankings of Kiley McDaniel and Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs. Judging by the amount of potential suitors for Bumgarner, though, the Giants should get a respectable package for the franchise icon if they move him. Two end-of-July deadlines ago, the Rangers sent righty Yu Darvish to the Dodgers for three players, including then-top 100 prospect Willie Calhoun. The Rangers followed that up by moving lefty Cole Hamels to the Cubs last year for three players, though no one from the trio was a premium prospect at the time. While Bumgarner won’t bring back an enormous return this summer, he ought to warrant something along the lines of what Darvish landed the Rangers.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Buster Posey left Saturday’s game after suffering a hamstring injury while running out a ground ball. The Giants called up catcher Aramis Garcia for today’s game while Posey didn’t play, though manager Bruce Bochy told reporters (including MLB.com’s Maria Guardado) that Posey’s sore hamstring isn’t thought to be too serious. “It’s hard to go into a game with one catcher. Could Buster go back there? Probably, but I think we’d put him at risk to make it worse…This makes sense right now for a day to see how Buster’s doing,” Bochy said. “It gives us some time. After the day off in New York, we’ll see if he’s available to go.” Posey is hitting just .253/.311/.387 through 168 plate appearances, and is on pace for the weakest hitting season of his ten full seasons in the big leagues. The longtime Giants star has been swinging the bat a bit better since returning from a brief stint on the concussion IL earlier this month, so Posey and the team are obviously hoping his hamstring problem won’t again put him on the sidelines.
TODAY: Pomeranz has not been removed from the rotation, Bochy told Schulman (Twitter links) and other reporters today. Anderson is slated to start on Thursday, which would have been Pomeranz’s normal turn, though Pomeranz could still make a start next weekend. In the interim, however, Pomeranz could potentially come out of the bullpen if required.
YESTERDAY: Left-hander Drew Pomeranz, one of the Giants’ most notable offseason acquisitions, is changing roles. The team has moved Pomeranz out of its rotation and into its bullpen, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Pomeranz is now the third starter the struggling Giants have dropped from their rotation since the season began. They previously relegated righty Dereck Rodriguez and lefty Derek Holland after they got off to poor starts. With Pomeranz joining those two in the bullpen, lefty Madison Bumgarner and righty Jeff Samardzija are the only survivors from San Francisco’s year-opening starting five.
Along with Holland, Pomeranz was one of just three free agents the Giants signed to major league contracts during a low-spending winter for the franchise. New president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi handed Pomeranz a one-year, $1.5MM guarantee, but the minimal investment hasn’t gone well for either party thus far.
A former Rockie, Athletic, Padre and Red Sox, Pomeranz has racked up 10 starts with the Giants, averaging a bit under four innings per appearance (39 total) while posting a hideous 8.08 ERA/6.45 FIP. Pomeranz has struck out nearly 10 hitters per nine, but that hasn’t been enough to cancel out his other problems – mainly an unappealing walk rate (4.85 BB/9) and significant issues keeping the ball in the park. The 30-year-old Pomeranz’s home run-to-fly ball rate is at a career-worst 26.2 percent, more than double his lifetime mark (12.9). Pomeranz has yielded the majority of his HRs outside of pitcher-friendly San Francisco, unsurprisingly, though he hasn’t been effective there either. He’s also getting demolished by right-handed hitters, who have recorded a .436 weighted on-base average off him (for reference, Christian Yelich’s 2019 wOBA is .440).
Including his work against lefties, batters have feasted on Pomeranz for a .420 wOBA. Statcast paints a less bleak picture, crediting Pomeranz with a still-unimpressive .369 xwOBA against. He’s suffering from poor fortune in the BABIP (.369) and strand rate (67.7) departments, and has experienced a jump in velocity compared to last season. But none of that is of any solace to the Giants, who saw Pomeranz allow 22 earned runs on 25 hits (six HRs) and nine walks in 10 1/3 innings in May.
This is the second straight season a team has taken Pomeranz out of its rotation. The Red Sox did it last year during an injury-limited campaign for Pomeranz, who collected 15 relief appearances out of 26. Among hurlers who have thrown at least 100 innings dating back to 2018, Pomeranz ranks last in ERA (6.77), fourth worst in FIP (5.78) and fWAR (minus-1.0), and fifth from the bottom in BB/9 (5.18). It’s a steep drop for someone who was once a top prospect and isn’t far removed from a terrific run as a big league starter. Pomeranz excelled with San Diego in 2016, when it sent him to Boston that summer in a controversial trade for then-premium pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza, and enjoyed another quality year with the BoSox the next season.
The 2016-17 version of Pomeranz now looks long gone, and barring a seismic turnaround over the next few months, he’ll likely have to settle for a minor league deal on his next pact. Free agency could come sooner than expected for Pomeranz if the Giants release him during the season, which doesn’t seem like a far-fetched idea. In the meantime, Pomeranz will try to rebuild his stock in the Giants’ bullpen. San Francisco will eventually have to pick someone else to slot into its rotation behind Bumgarner, Samardzija, Shaun Anderson and Tyler Beede, but it has enough off days on the horizon to wait on making a decision.
Former Giants outfielder Mac Williamson, designated for assignment for the second time this season by the club last Saturday, went unclaimed on waivers and has elected free agency, Maria Guardado of mlb.com tweets. Williamson previously reported to the team’s AAA affiliate after the first DFA, where a three-week hot streak led to a fifth opportunity with the big club, but this time has decided to test his luck on the open market.
The 28-year-old Williamson – he’ll be 29 next month – was a post-draft favorite in 2012 after being selected in the third round out of Wake Forest. Already 22 at the time of the draft, Williamson’s slow crawl through the minors – injuries often set him back – still had him lingering in Double-A by the time his 25th birthday rolled around.
His first three Triple-A forays, occasionally interrupted by month-long stints with the big club, were mediocre at best – Mac, in fact, seemed on verge of release after an especially poor 2017 showing with Sacramento. A swing change the next season reaped dividends, though, and Williamson seemed primed to seize the everyday left-field job for San Fran after a hot early-season ’18 start. Hopes were derailed when a collision with a wall near the bullpen mound in SF’s Oracle Park resulted in lingering concussion symptoms, and Mac could never quite recapture his early-season sizzle upon return.
2019 hasn’t been kind to him – the 6’5 righty managed just a 14 wRC+ (86 percent below league-average) in 57 plate appearances with the club before his designation. It’s unclear which, if any, clubs will be interested, but Williamson should get a Triple-A opportunity if so inclined. Perhaps a Japanese or Korean team – clubs notoriously interested in the so-called “Four-A” sluggers, many of which, admittedly, sport more impressive AAA numbers than does Williamson – will come calling, though the overseas market is never easy to predict.
The Giants have some obviously appealing trade candidates. They also have some undesirable contracts. And then there’s the Kung Fu Panda … one of the most unique players in recent memory. He has had some low lows on the ballfield, but he did not start out as some woeful novelty. And he isn’t one now.
We’ve already seen the suggestion floated by some Giants reporters, so … can I interest you in a gently used Pablo Sandoval?
Let’s start on the contract side. Sandoval is way too expensive. But he’s also dirt cheap! He’s earning a cool $19MM this year. The Red Sox are paying all but $545K of it. They’re also on the hook for a $5MM buyout next year, at which time Sandoval will be back on the open market and searching for a much more modest contract than the $95MM deal he inked in November of 2014. It doesn’t get any cheaper than this, folks. You’re paying at least that much to fill the roster spot regardless, so this rental player comes with an effective cash cost of absolutely nothing.
The question remains … do you really want a rental Panda? If so, how much value should you really give to make this happen?
If you’ve followed the Giants from afar, you might assume that Sandoval has slumped with most of the rest of the roster. In fact, he’s leading the team in wRC+ (minimum 10 plate appearances) and fWAR (he’s tied with Buster Posey at 1.0 apiece, but Sandoval has done it in just over two-thirds the plate appearances).
Yep, it has been a vintage performance thus far — a deep cut, in fact. Sandoval hasn’t produced at these kinds of levels since way back in 2011, before he settled in as a solidly above-average but comfortably sub-elite hitter and then ultimately collapsed in Boston. Through 109 plate appearances, the switch-hitting Sandoval carries a .288/.321/.596 slash with seven home runs. He’s delivering well-graded glovework at the hot corner. Oh, and he has not only filled in at first and second in recent years, but he’s even making occasional scoreless appearances on the mound just for kicks.
No money down. Zero maintenance. Versatile. Stout. Below Kelley Blue Book?!
That’s the dealer’s pitch, anyway. Almost sounds too good to be true. Just to be safe, let’s check the Carfax and have a gander underneath the hood …
Hmm well there is one catch you ought to be aware of right off the bat. Sandoval is a switch-hitter, true, but he has been absolutely dreadful against left-handed pitching. And that’s really not a new thing, if we’re being honest. But hey … at least he’s good on the heavy side of the platoon!
Yeah, okay, you’re a little worried about the sample size? If we’re focusing on what he has done against righties … yeah, it’s eighty plate appearances of a thousand-plus OPS hitting. But yikes … a 4.8% walk rate to go with a 27.4% strikeout rate? A .360 BABIP is the only thing supporting his .345 OBP. And that 31.8% HR/FB rate … not gonna last. He’s feasting on some pitchers that aren’t all at the tops of their games. Hard to put too much stock in this kind of showing from a part-time player.
To be fair, Sandoval is legitimately ripping the baseball right now, at least when it is being thrown at him from someone’s right arm. Statcast it. 14.9% barrel rate … about triple what he was averaging during the Statcast Era. 45.2% hard-contact rate. The results are outstripping even that impressive contact (.385 wOBA vs. .362 wOBA), but not by a ridiculous margin. He’s hitting the ball to the opposite field more than ever, which perhaps hints at a change in approach that is helping to produce these results.
That’s all well and good, but the bottom line is that it’s just not a terribly sustainable formula. At his best, in his first stint with the Giants, Sandoval was a model of K/BB consistency, with solid walk rates (average for that era; around 8%) and low strikeout rates (between 13.1% and 13.5% in every season from 2009 and 2014). Now he’s at half that walk rate and twice that strikeout rate — well on the wrong side of current league average in both respects. Sandoval’s 15.9% swinging-strike rate is by far the highest of his career. The newly aggressive approach is working for now, but it doesn’t feel like it’ll last.
It’s not hard to imagine the Panda changing hands this summer. He could be a functional piece for the right team. But my expectation is that it’ll be for a rather minimal trade return, even though an acquiring team won’t have to come out of pocket for his services. You may be a buyer, but I’m walking away.
It was May 29, 2010, nine years ago today, that the Giants made a decision which helped propel them to a National League West title and a World Series championship. Sitting a few games over .500 and facing their seventh straight season without a playoff berth, the club sought a right-handed spark for a lefty-heavy outfield. The Giants found their answer in 33-year-old veteran Pat Burrell, whom they signed to a minor league deal that came with no risk but ultimately paid significant dividends.
Burrell began his career in 2000 with the Phillies, who drafted him first overall in 1998, and wound up enjoying a successful run with the organization. Between his debut and his final season with the Phillies in 2008, Burrell headed to the plate 5,388 times and batted .257/.367/.485 (120 wRC+) with 251 home runs and 16.8 wins above replacement. Burrell’s Phillies tenure concluded with a World Series win over his next team, the Rays.
Tampa Bay brought Burrell in on a two-year, $16MM contract in January 2009, but the deal proved to be an unmitigated disaster for the franchise. Burrell was among the majors’ worst players in Year 1 of the deal; after Burrell got off to a similarly poor start through 24 games in 2010, the Rays designated him for assignment before releasing him with $9MM left on his contract.
Tampa Bay likely figured Burrell was shot when it parted with him. Little did the Rays know he’d end up as a dirt-cheap contributor on a title-winning club just a few months later. San Francisco owned a 29-24 record when it promoted Burrell to the majors on June 4, and it went 63-46 the rest of the way to win its division by two games over San Diego. Pat the Bat played an instrumental role in the Giants’ narrow defeat of the Padres. During a 96-game, 341-plate appearance renaissance, Burrell slashed .266/.364/.509 (136 wRC+) with 18 HRs and 2.8 WAR as the Giants’ primary left fielder.
Burrell’s numbers dropped in San Francisco’s playoff series wins over the Braves, Phillies and Rangers, but it didn’t faze the Giants. The franchise took home its first championship since 1954, back when it was the New York Giants, and went on to win two more in the ensuing four seasons. Burrell wasn’t part of either of those 2012 or ’14 clubs, but he did return to the Giants for his final season in 2011 – this time on a major league contract – and log solid production in 219 trips to the plate. Almost a decade after the Giants first signed Burrell, it’s fair to say he still ranks as one of the best in-season minor league signings ever.
- Giants right-hander Nick Vincent exited tonight’s game with trainers, and The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly notes (via Twitter) that Vincent was motioning toward his neck/collarbone area as he departed the game. He’s been used heavily by the Giants, frequently pitching two- or more innings at a time. Prior to the 2019 season, Vincent had never thrown more than 64 2/3 innings in a Major League season, but he’s already up to 30 2/3 frames on the year. Correlation certainly doesn’t equate to causation in this instance, but the uptick in workload is at least worth a mention. Vincent looked like a potential trade chip less than three weeks ago, as he had a 2.25 ERA and a 25-to-6 K/BB ratio in 24 innings back on May 10. Since then, he’s surrendered 13 runs in his past four appearances — a span of just 6 2/3 innings.
The Giants have optioned left-handed pitcher Andrew Suarez to Triple-A, tweets Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic. His spot on the roster will go to right-hander Sam Coonrod, who has been recalled from Triple-A.
Suarez’s demotion comes after making just two starts for the Major League club, neither of which yielded particularly promising results. In ten innings of work this season, Suarez has conceded three home runs and ten earned runs while walking as many batters as he has struck out.
Of course, the 26-year-old Suarez is still young and relatively inexperienced, having worked just 170 1/3 career innings in the big leagues. Though the early returns for the 2019 season have been ugly, his rookie numbers were far more encouraging, suggesting that Suarez is at least worthy of consideration for a spot in the rebuilding Giants’ starting rotation. For the time being, though, his tryout for new president of baseball ops Farhan Zaidi will be put on hold and Suarez will head to the minors to iron out his issues.
As Baggarly notes, it appears that Suarez’s absence will clear the way for Dereck Rodriguez to reclaim his spot in the rotation. However, that is not certain; Tyler Beede is another candidate to replace Suarez in the rotation. Rodriguez, for his part, has not enjoyed much more success than Suarez in 2019, but after a brief stint in the minors he could be given the chance to show that his rookie success was no fluke. Sam Coonrod, meanwhile, will pitch out of the bullpen as he makes his Major League debut.
Coonrod, a fifth-round selection of the Giants in 2014, is a 26-year-old right-hander who began working out of the bullpen in the minors last season after beginning his professional career as a starter. Coonrod has played at the Triple-A level in 2019, pitching 18 innings in as many games, striking out 30 batters and walking 11. Though his 7.00 ERA is unsightly, his peripherals are considerably more impressive and point to MLB-caliber stuff.