According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, the Giants designated reliever Vinnie Chulk for assignment today. Chulk, 29, pitches to contact but has solid control. He’s been scored upon in four of his six appearances this month.
Earlier this morning we saw a report that indicated that Erick Threets may be available for the right price. Now, according to Andrew Baggarly, the Giants have made most of their middle relievers available as well as a couple of pitchers in Triple A.
The Giants have informed other clubs that relievers Tyler Walker, Jack Taschner and Vinnie Chulk are available in fair-value deals. The club also is soliciting offers for Erick Threets and Brad Hennessey, who is starting for Triple-A Fresno.
Walker, Chulk and Hennessey are all arbitration-eligible at the end of the season. Chulk is having the best season of the group with a 132 ERA+, though Walker has experience as a closer. Hennessey is 3-1 with a 3.48 ERA in four starts for Triple A Fresno after being demoted and converted to a starter.
Baggarly indicates that this shift is due to the emergence of young pitchers as well as the earlier-than-expected demand for relief pitchers from contending teams.
Many teams were interested, but Brian Sabean and the Giants prevailed in the Shea Hillenbrand sweepstakes late Friday night. The deal marks Sabean’s first of the year and first ever with J.P. Ricciardi (as far as I can tell).
The average National League first baseman has hit .286/.366/.504 this season, while Hillenbrand is at .301/.342/.480. While he’s a below average fix at first, it sure as hell beats the .714 OPS the Giants have gotten out of the position thus far.
Hillenbrand moves from a ballpark that inflates home runs by about 18% and batting average about 5% for right-handed hitters. His new home has a similar effect on batting average but suppresses right-handed home runs by about 4%.
The pitchers Hillenbrand faced this year with the Blue Jays allowed an aggregate line of .260/.345/.416. Every Giants hitter with more than 200 plate appearances has faced tougher pitching than that. Another interesting fact: Hillenbrand is one of the most likely double play victims in the game.
Defensively, the Fielding Bible rates Hillenbrand as the fourth-worst first baseman in baseball, ahead of Giambi, Delgado, and Sexson. The Giants currently boast the third-best defensive efficiency mark in the NL, however.
The Blue Jays threw in Vinnie Chulk in the deal and received Jeremy Accardo. Baseball Prospectus notes that Accardo "finally made The Show on the basis of a mid-90s fastball, a developing slider, and a filthy cutter that some compare to Mariano Rivera’s bat-sawing Frisbee."
Accardo appears to be an upgrade from Chulk, who is three years older and has mediocre stuff.