During the initial rush of excitement following the Andrew McCutchen trade, I sort of forgot that the Giants would be giving anything back to the Pirates. Figured they would have just handed him over to a good home because they were thoughtful. Then the realization sunk in: The Giants needed to send young players back to the Pirates, and that could be bad.
We have details of the return, now. And while the Giants didn’t give up their very best prospects, they did give up valuable players who could have helped the team in 2018. According to Andrew Baggarly, Kyle Crick and Bryan Reynolds are going to the Pirates in return for McCutchen.
Crick being a part of the trade is a bummer, considering that he was a creeper candidate to be a bullpen monster next year. If the Giants did have a surplus of anything, it was with right-handed relievers who chucked baseballs super hard but didn’t have a great idea where they were going, so you could understand why they would consider Crick to be interchangeable with Roberto Gomez or Reyes Moronta. Still, it’s a drag to lose Crick. He showed promise last year, and his presence would have made it less likely that the Giants would need to trade my pet prospect in 2020 for some overpaid veteran bullpener.
Pirates fans: You will be impressed with Crick. He throw ball hard. He throw ball good. There’s a lot of potential there.
The other part of the deal is Reynolds, the 22-year-old switch-hitting outfielder who hit .312/.364/.462 for the San Jose Giants, and this one could sting. While he has a lot of swing-and-miss in his game, and he doesn’t quite walk enough to make up for it, he’s a speedy switch-hitter with a lot of tools and an ability to hit for average. That’s not a small thing, and if he can stick in center field, he might give the Pirates a lot of value over the next few years.
On the other hand, if the Giants are really committed to Steven Duggar as their center fielder of the future, Reynolds didn’t profile as a corner outfielder. This could have been some sell-high timing on a player they had long-term questions about.
Still, for all of the grousing about the Giants’ thin system, though, they were still able to acquire two valuable players this offseason while holding on to Chris Shaw, Tyler Beede, Andrew Suarez, and, of course, Heliot Ramos. It was a bummer that they missed out on Giancarlo Stanton, but they were able to attack the trade market aggressively and lose just two of their top-10 prospects. If you believe the nerds at FanGraphs, the Giants took two positions with negative WAR last year and added former All-Stars who project to be worth a combined six wins.
I know the Giants are going to be terrible in a couple years. But they were probably going to be terrible in 2020 with Christian Arroyo, Crick, Reynolds, and an extra few million. This trade really does fit with their dead-cat-bounce strategy for 2018, and you can’t say that you’re not at least a tiny bit interested.
I sure wish the Pirates were more interested in Random A-Baller Who Didn’t Turn Into Luis Castillo, though, because losing Crick will hurt next year’s bullpen, I’m guessing. That’s what it costs to get a player like Andrew McCutchen next year, even if he’s not the MVP he used to be.