Giants Dump Salary, Rangers Receive Prospect In Return
The Giants head into the final week before the All-Star break on the periphery of the playoff race. They are in fourth place in the National League West, one game above .500. But they are only 5.5 games out of the second wild card spot and have gotten Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto back after stints on the disabled list.
Sitting in the netherworld between being all-in on a playoff push and being a clear seller, the Giants traded away salary on Sunday, essentially paying the Rangers a prospect to clear two underperforming big leaguers off their roster.
By trading away backup outfielder Austin Jackson and rigthander Cory Gearrin, the Giants are bringing up younger, less expensive replacements. Promoted outfielder Steven Duggar and righthander Ray Black could both end up being more productive than the veterans they are replacing, so this isn’t a white flag trade for the Giants. But it is a sign that San Francisco is quite concerned about ensuring that they remain below the luxury tax threshold.
For the Rangers, this is a trade much like the one the Braves executed with the Diamondbacks in 2015 where the Braves accepted injured Bronson Arroyo and his salary and received the D-backs 2014 first-round pick Touki Toussaint in return. In essence the Diamondback gave up a significant prospect to get the Braves to take on salary. The Braves sent utilityman Phil Gosselin to Arizona to complete the trade. Gosselin played only 146 games for the D-backs before being traded away in a minor deal, while Toussaint has now reached Triple-A and could join the Braves big league roster in the second half of the season.
Bahr isn’t the prospect Toussaint was, but the Giants are only receiving a player to be named or cash in return for the trio of players, which is a significant indicator that the biggest focus here is payroll relief.
Austin Jackson, OF
Jackson had his most productive season in years in 2017, hitting .318/.387/.482 in 318 plate appearances with the Indians. The Giants signed him to a two-year, $6 million deal during the offseason, but Jackson has struggled at the plate again this season, something that was also true in 2016 with the White Sox. Jackson has slowed as he’s aged. While he’s still capable of playing center field, he provided little offensive impact as he lacks power, doesn’t draw walks to help him get on base and his speed no longer plays on the basepaths.
Cory Gearrin, RHP
Gearrin has struggled a little with his control this year and he’s been more homer prone, but otherwise, he’s pretty much the same setup man he’s been for several years. He mixed a low-90s fastball and a mid-80s slider. Gearrin is earning $1.7 million this year and is arbitration eligible in 2019 before becoming a free agent after the 2019 season.
Jason Bahr, RHP
Bahr is the payoff the Rangers receive for being willing to take on Jackson’s salary. He was the Giants’ fifth-round pick in 2017 out of Central Florida. He had barely pitched in his first three seasons at UCF and was cut once before new coach Greg Lovelady invited him back and turned him into the team’s top reliever. The Giants have moved him back to a starting role as a pro, and he has the four-pitch mix to make it work. Bahr has a funky delivery and plenty of extension from a three-quarters release point. He has a high spin-rate 91-94 mph fastball that grades as above-average. He also mixes in a low-80s changeup, a high 70s curveball and a low-80s slider. None of his secondary offerings grade out as above average, and there is a decent chance he ends up back in the bullpen eventually, but the 23-year-old has missed bats in the low minor and is a useful back-end starter/relief prospect.
A Player To Be Named Or Cash
We will update the trade once the player the Giants receive is known. While there have been notable players to be named in trades at times, the rate of return on trades where it is a player to be named or cash is extremely modest, as teams often end up just choosing to take cash in the end.