Image credit: Will Wilson, NC State (Photo by Carl Kline
SAN DIEGO — The Angels needed to clear payroll space to pursue a marquee free agent this offseason. In order to do that, they had to part with their most recent first-round pick.
The Angels traded third baseman Zack Cozart and infielder Will Wilson to the Giants for cash or a player to be named later on Tuesday.
The Giants are picking up all of Cozart’s $12.67 million salary in 2020. Wilson, drafted 15th overall in June, was the enticement for the Giants to do that.
The cleared salary space gives the Angels room to offer a larger contract to Gerrit Cole or other free agents they are pursuing. The Giants, meanwhile, add an infield veteran for the short-term and a recent first-round pick for the long-term.
Zack Cozart, 3B
The Angels signed Cozart to a three-year, $38 million contact after the 2017 season, but he played just 96 games for them after having season-ending shoulder surgery each of the last two years. Cozart offers the Giants versatility around the infield and has hit for average and power at his peak, but his health is a major concern. He will be a free agent after the 2020 season.
Will Wilson, SS/2B
The Angels drafted Wilson 15th overall out of North Carolina State after he hit .335 with 16 home runs and won Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player in the Year, but scouts were underwhelmed during Wilson’s pro debut in the Rookie-level Pioneer League. Wilson has a contact-oriented swing that mostly sends line drives up the middle, but he flashes gap power that could grow into more as he adds weight and strength. He shows vision, hands and feel at shortstop, but he’s a below-average runner whose range is better-suited for second base. While no one thinks Wilson is a bad player, few thought he was worthy of a first-round pick, with many scouts labeling him a future utilityman. He’ll move to full-season ball in 2020 and try to prove those projections wrong.