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The Giants did well with the Eduardo Nuñez trade

The Giants got two young right-handed pitchers who are far away from the majors, but there’s plenty of upside.

Cleveland Indians v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

One thing I need to do a better job of, I think, is explaining why the Giants were right to trade someone like Eduardo Nuñez. When I step out of my echo chamber of nerds, I’m reminded that this trade actually confused a lot of people, and I totally took its inevitability for granted. So we’ll start there.

Nuñez is ...

  • a pending free agent
  • going to be 31 next year
  • probably seeking a multi-year contract
  • completely reliant on speed and a high batting average to be productive because he doesn’t walk a lot or hit for power
  • (that’s always a profile that scares me with aging players)
  • maybe the 20th-best third baseman in baseball? He’s 31st by WAR, but I’m willing to take the over on his defense. I count at least 18 third basemen who are clearly, unambiguously more productive

If one of those descriptions is different, maybe my opinion is different. If he were 27, or if he were under contract for another year, or if he hit for power or took walks, or if baseball wasn’t in a golden age of third basemen, I could make the argument for keeping him.

As is, the Giants absolutely had to trade him. And everyone knew it. Not only that, but there weren’t a lot of suitors, at least not who would want him to start. It wasn’t likely that they’d get a huge prospect haul, and they didn’t.

But they got interesting prospects, including a teenager with a live arm and a 2016 third-rounder who immediately slots into their top-20. That’s about as well as the Giants could have done.

Shaun Anderson was the third-rounder, a member of a vaunted Florida pitching staff that had so many starters, they had to put him in the bullpen. When the Red Sox got their hands on him, they converted him to a starter, so don’t be put off by him being in Class-A at 22. It’s where he should be.

Over the Monster ranked him as the #18 prospect for the Red Sox before the season. He was just below Luis Ysla, who was designated for assignment to make room for Nuñez. That was the prospect the Giants traded for Alejandro de Aza.

Sandoval, de Aza, Ysla, Nuñez, Peavy, it all makes sense, hear me out ...

Anderson throws in the low-90s with movement, and he’s missed enough bats in his first 20 professional starts, especially for a pitcher with limited starting experience. When he was drafted, Keith Law had him pegged as a fast-moving reliever, and that still might be his path.

By all indications, though, Anderson looks like a probable major leaguer. While it’s a long road from Class-A, and there are snipes and gully snakes on that road, getting a top-200 prospect from last year’s draft is something of a boon for a Giants team that didn’t have tons of leverage.

Gregory Santos is a raffle ticket of a prospect, a 17-year-old with weird peripherals and an ERA under 1.00 in the Dominican Summer League, both of which mean approximately nothing. Because of the part where he’s 17.

Just yesterday, our own esteemed Roger Munter dropped this link into his Minor Lines comments section, describing it like this:

Good piece by JJ Cooper on major new trend in baseball that Giants should get in on

That trend is dealing for teenaged prospects who are super, super far away from the majors. Roger wanted in. Well, buddy, guess what ...

From that article:

It wasn’t that many years ago that most teams would balk at the idea of trading for a prospect who realistically is four to six years away, at best, from the big leagues. But in 2017, more teams are willing to trade risk for potential reward.

Santos is at least four to six years away. He will probably never make the majors, really. But he has a chance to be the kind of prospect the Giants would never have gotten for a pending free agent infielder. Christopher Crawford has this to say:

It might end well, but start with the arm strength and see where it takes you.

My guess for Nuñez was that the Giants were going to get one pitcher, and he was going to be an organizational-type, either with low strikeouts and a solid ERA (think Albert Suarez, but younger) or a pitcher who missed a lot of bats in A-ball, with stuff that didn’t play as well in the upper minors (think Clayton Blackburn now). I’m sort of tickled that the Giants got two players with an upside substantial enough to dream on.

I’d probably rather have Adalberto Mejia — the prospect the Giants traded for Nuñez in the first place — over these two, but that’s debatable. Mejia is already in the majors (and preventing runs roughly as well as Ty Blach, albeit in a much different way), but the idea that the Giants could come remotely close to what they traded away, after enjoying a year of Nuñez’s services, is impressive.

The Giants didn’t have leverage with Nuñez. It was a buyer’s market, and the competition for his services wasn’t fierce. They still emerged with a couple of prospects with a chance to crack their top-10 one day. I’ll take that. And I’m glad the Giants did.