Trade Central: Giants Acquire Bullpen Help From Brewers, At Steep Price


The Giants were 24 games over .500 entering the all-star break, with the second-place Dodgers just having placed Clayton Kershaw on the disabled list.

By the trade deadline, the Giants’ lead was down to two games, even after San Francisco won its last two games of a weekend series at home against the Nationals. With veteran lefty Javier Lopez struggling and Josh Osich on the disabled list, the Giants needed another bullpen lefty in Milwaukee’s Will Smith. In exchange, the Brewers received a potential replacement for traded catcher Jonathan Lucroy in Andrew Susac, who was the Giants’ No. 1 prospect after the 2014 season, as well as righthander Phil Bickford, the Giants’ 2015 first-round pick and No. 1 prospect in BA’s Midseason Prospect Update.

Will Smith, lhp
Age: 27

Will Smith’s career took off when the Royals moved him from the rotation to the bullpen. The switch allowed his fringe-average fastball to play up into an average to above-average pitch and his slider got better as well. Like most lefthanders he’s better with the platoon advantage, but he’s not helpless against righthanders either. Smith missed time this year with a knee injury and his fastball velocity has taken some time to get back to the 93 mph average velocity he’s shown in recent years, but it’s been back to that level in recent weeks. He should help the Giants as a seventh/eighth-inning reliever.

Club (League) Class W L ERA G GS IP H R ER HR BB SO
 Milwaukee (NL) MLB 1 3 3.68 27 0 22 18 13 9 3 9 22
 Biloxi (Southern) AA 0 0 0.00 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
 Brevard County (Florida State) HiA 0 0 0.00 2 0 3 1 0 0 0 0 4

Andrew Susac, c
Age: 26

Susac, now 26, has been blocked behind Buster Posey ever since he first reached the majors in 2014. The 2011 second-round pick out of Oregon State earned a spot on the Giants’ postseason rosters that year, playing in all three postseason series and earning a World Series ring en route to ranking as their No. 1 prospect.

Susac struggled in 2015 with injuries, first his thumb, then a right wrist injury that required surgery. The wrist pain lingered into spring training in 2016, and he then had shoulder soreness that required a trip to the disabled list and cost him much of April and May.

An offensive-minded catcher at his best, Susac heated up in July after shaking off some rust in June. He hit six home runs in July while slashing .326/.365/.596 for Triple-A Sacramento, and at his best has a short swing and average power with the ability to use the whole field.

Susac has thrown out just 10 of 44 basestealers (23 percent) and has average arm strength. Scouts have long had questions about his durability and conditioning, and Susac never has played more than 102 games in a regular season.

Club (League) Class AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
Sacramento (Pacific Coast) AAA .273 58 209 28 57 12 1 8 36 24 45 0 .343 .455

Phil Bickford, rhp
Age: 20

Bickford has been a first-round pick twice. He was drafted in the first round out of a Southern California high school by the Blue Jays in 2013 (10th overall), but didn’t sign and headed to Cal State Fullerton. After one year at Fullerton he transferred to the Junior College of Southern Nevada. He dominated junior-college competition to the tune of 18 strikeouts per nine innings and was drafted in the first round again in 2015, this time with the 18th pick.

Bickford’s fastball is more notable for its movement and deception than it’s pure velocity. He sits in the low 90s and will touch 93-94. It’s unfair to compare any Giants minor leaguer to Madison Bumgarner, but Bickford’s ability to pitch off and generate swings and misses with a fastball that has average velocity does bring back memories of Bumgarner. His slider is inconsistent but flashes above-average. He ranked No. 50 in the Midseason Top 100 rankings.

Club (League) Class W L ERA G GS IP H R ER HR BB SO
 Augusta (South Atlantic) LoA 3 4 2.70 11 11 60 49 23 18 2 15 69
 San Jose (California) HiA 2 2 2,73 6 6 33 21 10 10 3 12 36

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