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Saturday, December 16, 2017

What's next for SF after Matt Moore trade?

The Giants dealt away their projected number 4 starter to the Texas Rangers on Friday afternoon for a couple of prospects that probably won't ever see the light of day on a major league roster. However, according to many sources throughout the league, this deal was primarily about clearing payroll for what many are speculating could be bigger move on the horizon for the club.

The fact that they got some pretty pedestrian prospects in return tell me that this wasn't necessarily a move that suggests they're leaning toward rebuilding this offseason. Instead, the consensus is that the Giants made this move to clear some payroll, as we know they were approaching the luxury tax limit and another high-priced free agent, such as J.D. Martinez, would put them over the threshold and cost them a nice chunk of money in fines as a result. By dealing Moore, they do free up roughly $7M for 2018 and if I remember correctly from what was said on KNBR Friday, that leaves the Giants roughly $25M below the luxury tax threshold, meaning they could have wiggle room to sign someone like Martinez as well as another piece if they so choose. Aside from Martinez, the upper-echelon free-agents they've looked at are outfielders Jay Bruce and Lorenzo Cain as well as third basemen Mike Moustakas.

The trade does take away a guy who, aside from a dreadful 2017 season which many are writing off as an aberration than the start of a decline for the 29 year-old lefty who was nails down the stretch and in the playoffs for the Giants after acquiring him the previous summer. I do think Moore will bounce back and return to the pitcher we saw in '16 rather than the guy we saw throughout 2017, so I'm hoping the Giants have a good plan in motion as a result of the deal aside from the acquisition of two mediocre-at-best pitching prospects. (Although one of the pitchers the Giants got, Israel Cruz, is still just 20 years old and has a lively arm, the kid was rocked in the majority of his 9 outings in the Arizona League leading to an ERA less than a tenth of a point below 6)

The reason why this deal will hopefully lead to a bigger addition for the Giants is because of the timing. Moore is coming off his worst year in the big leagues and his trade value is at an all-time low. If the intention was to deal him in order to get the most value for him, they would have been better off waiting until the season started and allowed Moore some starts to show last season was a fluke. So essentially, if the Giants don't make another move this winter to counteract this trade, I would mark this one down as a big L for the organization just because trade values are higher in season and there would most certainly have been a desperate contender that maybe suffered an injury or realized they were an arm short and would have offered up significantly more than two "throw in" type of prospects. I guess


So, with that being said, this move certainly will now pose a question for the Giants management aside from what to do with the saved $9M and that is who will take Moore's spot in the rotation. Now Chris Stratton had a very solid finish to 2017 and appears to have the upper hand in terms of the fifth spot in the rotation, but now the Giants need to fill another slot in their five-man starting staff. They do have some internal options but all of them come with question marks. Ty Blach would appear to be the lead candidate at the moment, but after an impressive showing down the stretch in 2016, he was just about as bad as Moore was in '17 going 8-12 with a 4.79 ERA, 1.36 WHIP and a 74:43 strikeout/walk ratio over 34 games (24 starts) and 163 innings. Now those aren't absolutely dreadful numbers as far as a fifth starter would be concerned, but if he is in the rotation with Stratton, it would essentially give the Giants two number five starters at the back-end of their rotation. Stratton may actually become the number four if that were the case, and while he was pretty impressive in his 10 starts after joining the rotation, his one area of weakness was base-runners allowed with about 1.5 per inning. He did an excellent job at limiting the damage and finished the year with a sub-4 ERA and nearly a strikeout per inning over 57 frames. I would gladly take Stratton as the fifth guy with Blach, Tyler Beede and Andrew Suarez waiting in the wings should he falter, but the rotation is now much less deep than it was before the Moore trade.

The Giants will likely scour the bottom half of the free agent pool for some starting pitching depth though and there are some decent names down there that could intrigue the team. Jeremy Hellickson, Jaime Garcia, R.A. Dickey and perhaps the most intriguing option if healthy, Chris Tillman. Tillman is coming off a terrible, injury shortened season in which he went 1-7 with an ERA just shy of 8 but was the Orioles ace heading into the season. He's just 29 years old and in '16 he went 16-6 with a 3.78 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 144 K's in 172 innings giving him a quality 114 ERA+ on the campaign. If he's healthy, he could be a great buy low bargain on a one-year deal in which he could pitch in the spacious AT&T Park rather than the rough NL East to possibly build his value for a big, long-term deal next offseason. Whether it's one of these guys or someone else, I do expect the Giants to bring in another veteran starter to at least compete for one of the rotation spots.

Now this brings me to the second question that this deal poses, what, if anything, do the Giants do with the money freed in the trade? The other big name linked to the Giants since they missed out on Giancarlo Stanton and someone the Giants apparently have made a trade offer for is Baltimore third basemen Manny Machado. However, Machado isn't owed a ton of money in '18 and becomes a free agent after the year when the likes of Hunter Pence and Denard Span will come off the books so it's not as if they had to deal Moore in order to obtain Machado and potentially sign the 25 year-old star to an extension. It doesn't seem like the Giants and Orioles are very close to a deal though unlike they were with the Marlins for Stanton, plus Machado has voiced a desire to play shortstop everyday, something the Giants would not offer him the ability to do with gold-glover Brandon Crawford in place for the next half-decade. White Sox outfielder Avasail Garcia is someone else the Giants have reached out about, but apparently they weren't able to get a deal done for him at the Winter Meetings. Like with Machado though, it seems unlikely they complete anything in the future for the all-star right fielder who had a breakout 2017 season that included a .330 average, 18 jacks and 80 RBI in 136 games.

What's surprising to me is that, aside from Manny Machado and some light whispers about bringing back Eduardo Nunez, the Giants haven't been seriously linked to any third basemen of note, which would be a problem if they aren't able to upgrade. Pablo Sandoval and/or Ryder Jones and Christian Arroyo would be forced into huge playing time by default and that's not something that a contending team should aim for unless they somehow got two studs in the outfield. Because of their need for multiple outfielders is probably the reason we're hearing every name from Billy Hamilton to J.D Martinez, Avasail Garcia, Domingo Santana and many more.

With Pence and Span under contract they could theoretically bring in just one outfielder and possibly get by, but I don't think they want both Pence and Span to be forced into everyday roles in '18 and would rather have those guys possibly platoon in right and maybe one separates himself from the other and takes the everyday role. Again though, that would mean two outfielders and ideally a third basemen would still have to be brought in, and with all the trouble they seem to be having trying to acquire just one of those pieces, acquiring three may be an impossible task this winter.

What the Moore deal does at least is finally get the ball rolling for the Giants offseason. I think Moore will pitch better than he did in 2017 but he's hardly a guy I'm broken up about losing as he was just so bad in 2017 and especially if this move does lead to something bigger. If, however, it doesn't lead to something bigger and was just an attempt to clear payroll for the sake of clearing payroll then I think the move would then turn out to be a bad one for reasons I listed above. At least I have a little bit of an idea of what I think the Giants are now wanting to do this offseason (spend big to acquire an outfielder or possibly Machado), It's still any body's guess as to what this roster will look like when the team reports for spring training in under two months from now.
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The Giants Baseball Blog
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3 Comments:

  • At 1:48 AM, Anonymous Lunatic Fringe Pres. said…

    Never much cared for Matt Moore, thought he was sort of an outcast on this team and it really fucked up the team chemistry when they dealt Duffy. Duff hasn't done crap since the deal but just having him around the clubhouse would have helped the team last season. I hope we now have the $$$ to go get Martinez and another guy maybe liked Carlos Gomez or someone for center field. Don't want Hamilton that guy can't hit for crap and I'm really tired of the Giants getting small ball players. THEY NEED SOME DAMN POWER for christmas so for christ's sake Giants, get a damn bat. If it's Hamilton or even Lorenzo Cain in center, Span in left, Pence in right and Sandoval at third I may just boycott this team next year and watch the flippin A's. Sorry for cussing if that's not allowed I'm sure this comment will be taken down by moderator but god damn Giants, you've had the same need for like 3 years now and that's someone who can put the ball in the seats 30-40 times a season. With soo many of them out there hard to believe they haven't been able just get some help somehow.

    I'm tellin ya, the Lunatic Fringe is starting to re-surface and only a premiere power hitter will keep them at bay.

     
  • At 5:26 PM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…

    No worries on the cussing Lunatic, as long as it's not unnecessarily vulgar or completely off topic, I wouldn't erase someone's comment.

    To be honest I would have definitely thought the Giants would have made some sort of addition by now. The Moore deal was surprising in a sense but if it does come full circle and the Giants are able to do what they're intending to do with that money saved then yes, hopefully the "Fringe" will stay at bay. This has been a very confusing offseason so far though, as they were so very close to bringing in two big difference makers and instead ended up with neither and are now inquiring on just about any player with some pop and is entering their more expensive arbitration years.

    Maikel Franco is the latest name that the Giants have reportedly kicked the tires on at the Meetings this week, but they don't seem to be very close to making any kind of addition, at least from what I'm hearing. It's almost as if they put their eggs all in the Stanton/Ohtani basket, banking on getting one, but when both chose other clubs, I'm not sure the Giants were completely ready for the fall out of that.

    I mean, Franco is a nice young power bat, but the kid is coming off a sub-.700 OPS season and patience at the plate has eluded him throughout his three-year career. I just don't see him as a huge upgrade over Pablo if the Panda is indeed healthy and in-shape. The Giants need a difference maker, not a marginal upgrade.

     
  • At 11:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What's next? Hopefully 2 power hitters for third and left, a speedy center fielder, and a partridge in a fricken' pair tree. Oh yeah, and now we need a number four starter too? I really don't get the Moore trade unless the Giants just didn't think he was as good as Blach? I think he could be much better, but we saw him at his worst last season so that's what their going by obviously.

     

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