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Giants trade Clayton Blackburn to Rangers, get minor-league infielder in return

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The Giants traded Blackburn for 21-year-old Frandy De La Rosa, and here’s what they might have been thinking.

San Francisco Giants v Kansas City Royals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Days later, it still seems odd that the Giants designated Clayton Blackburn for assignment to make room for Tim Federowicz, who is likely to be sent back to Sacramento in the next week. Blackburn might not ever make an All-Star team, but he’s a reasonable option to start in a pinch.

Baseball teams have a lot of pinches over 162 games.

However, it’s not that odd for the Giants to deal Blackburn now. Apparently, the Giants felt good enough about their depth in the upper minors — Ty Blach, Andrew Suarez, Albert Suarez, Chris Stratton, and Tyler Beede, for starters — to make them want to deal him while his value was still relatively high. If the team was internally starting to question how his repertoire would play at higher levels, this might be an obvious sell-high move for them, even.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at Frandy De La Rosa, the 21-year-old middle infielder the Giants received from the Rangers in the trade. He’s a switch-hitter with a career batting line of .253/.317/.352 over four different minor-league levels. He was scuffling a bit for the Rangers’ equivalent of San Jose so far this season, albeit in 33 plate appearances.

While De La Rosa started his pro career as a shortstop, he’s moved to second base for the last two seasons. Considering the presence of Jalen Miller in San Jose, he’ll likely stay at second base, unless he moves back down to Augusta. He wasn’t listed on the Rangers’ top-30 prospect lists by Baseball America in either of the last two seasons, and he didn’t make a Cubs list before that. Keep in mind, though, that those two organizations have enjoyed very deep farm systems in recent years.

Still, if De La Rosa is a prospect, he’s not a great one. It appears as if he has a little speed, with 19 steals last year. However that comes with a hilarious caveat that he was caught 23 times. Man, I want someone to do that for the Giants, just once, for the jokes.

John Sickels was bullish on him back when De La Rosa was with the Cubs, who signed him for $700,000 as a teenager. That signing bonus makes me think he has some tools, in addition to his oddly used speed.

What this is, though, is a team trading a tire iron for a raffle ticket because they had five tire irons. I realize these are human beings, not tools, but ... well, pretend that I wrote that they had five human beings holding tire irons. De La Rosa is far less likely to make the majors than Blackburn, but the Giants weren’t likely to have a lot of use for Blackburn in the next two seasons, anyway. Typing out all the pitchers who might have been called up ahead of him makes me feel better.

I’m still not enamored of the original DFA (I would have been surprised if Albert Suarez were claimed, for example), but there’s at least some logic to it. The worst part is that poor Blackburn went from a future home of AT&T Park to The Ballpark at Arlington, which is brutal. However, the Giants exchanged a piece of organizational depth for a younger piece of organizational depth, and their thinking might have been, “Look, if Blackburn is starting 20 games for us, we’re probably hosed anyway.”

Fair enough, you weirdos. Fair enough.