On day one of his tenure as the Giants’ president of baseball operations, Farhan Zaidi insisted “nothing is off the table.”
On the most important day of Zaidi’s first year in San Francisco, Zaidi proved he was a man of his word.
With a flurry of deals that came together in the minutes leading up to Wednesday’s 1 p.m. trade deadline, the Giants worked creatively to remain in contention for a 2019 playoff spot while building depth to make the franchise more competitive in the future. Part of that depth comes with a Sacramento tie: highly touted prospect Mauricio Dubon, a Capital Christian graduate, was brought back via a deal with the Brewers for pitcher Drew Pomeranz.
Dubon, the Brewers’ No. 3 ranked prospect according to MLB.com, made his major league debut with Milwaukee this season and is the first player born in Honduras to play a major league game. The right-handed hitting middle infielder, 25, moved to the United States in high school and attended Capital Christian High in Sacramento.
“He’s hopefully a piece of the long-term puzzle,” Zaidi said. “He’s a guy with Bay Area roots which is very attractive to us. The ability to play both spots in the middle of the infield, second and short, he’s played some outfield as well in center field and he’s a good enough athlete to do that.”
Pomeranz’s value on the trade market improved after a successful transition from the Giants’ rotation to the bullpen. Black, 29, appeared in 26 games for the Giants last season and two games this year, posting a 6.02 ERA across 25 1/3 innings since his major league debut. Pomeranz has a 5.68 ERA this season but a 2.33 ERA since moving back to the bullpen in July.
Dubon went 0-for-2 with the Brewers this season during a brief major league stint and was hitting .297 with a .809 OPS at Triple-A San Antonio this year.
Zaidi continued to remain in contact with clubs interested in acquiring the services of Madison Bumgarner on Wednesday, but as the clock ticked past 4 p.m. local time in Philadelphia, Bumgarner stood in the weight room at Citizens Bank Park and realized he’d be given the chance to finish the season with the Giants.
“I never expected to be somewhere else until that happened,” Bumgarner said. “Nothing has changed for me.”
The personnel changed dramatically, but the Giants’ vision for the 2019 season did not. Despite subtracting three major league relievers –Sam Dyson, Mark Melancon and Pomeranz– in separate trades, Zaidi believes that by retaining Bumgarner, the Giants will have an opportunity to secure a playoff spot.
“When he’s on your side, you always feel like you have a chance,” Zaidi said.
The Giants entered the month of July with one of baseball’s best bullpens and rode their relievers to an 18-6 record leading up to the trade deadline. Dyson, Melancon and Pomeranz all thrived in their respective roles, particularly after the All-Star break, but the Giants determined they could acquire critical depth for the future and fill their bullpen with capable replacements from within.
“It’s not easy for these guys to say goodbye to good teammates,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “You’re happy for them, they’re going to good spots, and they’ll help those teams. They helped us gain a lot of ground in the standings and we’ll miss them.”
The Giants activated pitchers Dereck Rodríguez, Andrew Suárez and Jandel Gustave prior to Wednesday’s game, but Triple-A lefty Sam Selman could also be in line for a promotion in the near future.
Outside of welcoming new relievers, the Giants are preparing to add infielder Scooter Gennett after the Reds sent him to San Francisco in exchange for a player to be named later. Gennett is expected to join the club Friday in Denver, but both Zaidi and Bochy indicated they’ll have a tough roster decision to make that could have implications for long-time starter Joe Panik.
“I spoke briefly with Joe Panik about 45 minutes ago and just said, “It’s day-to-day right now and I’ll get with you to tell you exactly what our plan is,’ ” Bochy said prior to Wednesday’s game.
Gennett is one of eight players the Giants acquired Wednesday, but the 29-year-old infielder and 2018 All-Star is the only one who will join the major league roster. All others will report to various Giants affiliates within a farm system that received a welcome infusion of depth.
Melancon signed a four-year, $62 million deal to serve as the Giants’ closer in December, 2016, but dealt with significant injury issues and only saved 15 games in two-plus years with the team. The right-hander expressed his appreciation for the Giants and called the franchise a “first-class organization” but characterized his on-field tenure as disappointing.
“Physically with my arm, I went through some things that were unexpected,” Melancon said. “I’d like to think that I produced as much as I could and I gave it all I had.”
With an opportunity to move to a first-place Atlanta team, Melancon said he spoke with his wife and came to a decision “in about 12 seconds.”
The Giants received right-handed reliever Dan Winkler and No. 17 prospect, pitcher Tristan Beck, from the Braves, but the most significant aspect of the deal was the salary relief Atlanta gave San Francisco. Zaidi confirmed after the trade deadline that the Braves agreed to pay the roughly $18 million the Giants owed Melancon through the end of the 2020 season.
While Melancon spoke to reporters in the visiting clubhouse in Philadelphia, Dyson was called into Bochy’s office and informed of the club’s decision to send him to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for three prospects.
San Francisco did not add any players MLB.com ranked among the top 30 prospects in a strong Twins farm system, but Zaidi said a team headed up by pro scouting director Zack Minasian did a good job identifying assets with the ability to contribute to future Giants clubs. Right-handed pitchers Prelander Berroa and Kai Wei Teng will report to low-level Giants affiliates, but power-hitting outfielder Jaylin Davis will join the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats.
Of all the minor league players the Giants added Wednesday, Zaidi hinted that the right-handed hitting Davis could be most capable of helping the big league club over the final two months of the season. Davis, 25, hit 25 home runs for Triple-A Rochester this season and has actually performed better against right-handed pitchers than lefties.
The Giants also executed one minor league trade involving minor leaguers in the moments before Wednesday’s deadline, sending 2018 26th round draft choice Jacob Lopez to Tampa Bay for outfielder Joe McCarthy, a fifth-round choice of the Rays in 2015 who hit .192 in 43 games for Triple-A Durham this season.