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Winter meetings: Giants trade for Zack Cozart and prospect, sign Kevin Gausman

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The Angels are trying to clear payroll to sign Gerrit Cole; the Giants were happy to help them out in exchange for a top prospect.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Oakland Athletics Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images

One of the least talked about qualities of being a Giants fan is that they’re not a “poor” team that’s not going to have the finances to do cool things like sign top free agents, extend their best players, and buy prospects or 40-man roster upgrades by taking on bad deals.

Up until today — literally, an hour ago — the Giants hadn’t really done much of that last thing, but that all changed this afternoon when the team announced a trade with the Los Angeheim Angels of Angeloslegos:

If you’ve been tracking the Winter Meetings rumors to this point, then you know the Angels are hot for Gerrit Cole, whose market value right now might well be north of 8 years and $300 million. Cozart is set to make $12.67 million in the final year of an ill-fated 3-year, $38 million deal. The Angels’ commitments for 2020 are presently around $110 million now, nearly $100 million below the lowest salary tax threshold, so, they “have room” now to add Cole and more (they’ve also been connected to Anthony Rendon).

And all it cost them was their fourth-best prospect.

Who is Will Wilson?

The 21-year old shortstop was the Angels’ first-round draft pick of the 2019 draft. Yes. The Giants just traded for the Angels’ first-round draft pick from this calendar year. Per MLB Pipeline, which ranked him #4:

Though he’s not physically imposing, Wilson has quick hands and deceptive strength that give him at least above-average raw power. A right-handed hitter, he has a knack for putting the barrel on the ball. He shows the ability to hit for average and power, and he has done a better job of drawing walks this spring despite his aggressive approach.

FanGraphs also had him ranked 4th in the Angels’ system, too, and their logline for his talent makes it impossible to avoid gushing about this trade:

Wilson is a hyper-productive, medium-framed middle infielder with solid average tools and advanced feel for the game. Draft models love him due to his age.

Not mentioned, but equally important: his name is impervious to spoonerization.

FanGraphs goes on to hang a 45 Future Value on him, meaning he’s currently projected to be a major league contributor despite being drafted just six months ago. That gives the Giants 10 prospects with a Future Value of 45 or greater, a 100% increase over the past six months.

Cozart turned 34 in August and has played just 96 games over the past two seasons due to injury. He also has just two seasons of better than league average offense in nine seasons. He’s another player whose value has been almost exclusively on defense. Do not be surprised if the Giants pull an Andrew Friedman and simply cut Cozart.

This is it, folks. This is the exact kind of deal everyone hoped Farhan Zaidi would pull off every week and he finally has. The Giants will send back either a player to be named or cash considerations in exchange for the Angels’ first round draft pick — the #15 overall pick — of the 2019 draft and all it really cost them was taking back Zack Cozart’s roster spot (and contract). It’s important to know that this deal had nothing to do with Cozart and everything to do with Will Wilson.

Marco Luciano is just 17 years old, so, there’s no logical way of looking at this as some sort of weird block on the organizational depth chart for shortstop. It’s about adding talented depth up the middle no matter the position. Championship teams are built with pitching and being solid up the middle.


The Giants also signed Kevin Gausman to a 1-year deal.

The righty turns 29 in January. The Braves traded for him in 2018 from Baltimore and got a solid 2.87 ERA in ten starts (59.2 IP) from him. It all went to hell in 2019, though, with a 6.19 ERA (4.20 FIP) in 80 innings. They traded him to the Reds who turned him into a reliever, and in Cincinnati’s bullpen, he was much better: 3.21 FIP in 22.1 IP with an 11.7 K/9. He features a 96 mph fastball and devastating split finger (40.8% Whiff Rate).

There’s no way to read this other than a chance to duplicate the Drew Pomeranz scenario, though there’s a nonzero chance that it’s the same only in reverse.

Can you imagine the Giants projecting him as their closer only to suddenly need him back in the rotation after everybody gets hurt or falls apart two weeks into the seasons? It’s not an outlandish scenario! Remember, there’s literally nothing good about the Giants for the next couple of years! Nope. He’s a starter for now:

Here’s some video of Gausman’s stuff as a starter:

I’m squinting there and choosing the believe that what I’m seeing is a rebuilding team’s Zack Wheeler . . . if all goes well.

UPDATE:

Here are the details of the contract:

BY GAWD, THAT’S KEVIN PILLAR’S MONEY!


Gathering prospects is a great way to see if a turnaround is even possible, and deploying money to get good prospects is an even better strategy than the one I’d cynically presumed the Giants would do and acquire merely mediocre prospects.

And, yeah, grabbing guys like Gausman is good for any team at any point in a “competitive window”, so, even though the Giants aren’t going to compete for a Wild Card or anything satisfying like that, they are definitely going to keep providing these satisfying solves to the Sudoku puzzle that is the Giants’ talentless organization.

On the other hand . . .

Remember: Wilson was their #4 prospect. It’s okay to think the Giants might actually have a pretty good farm system at this point. We already know they’ve got sharp management.

UPDATE (4:35 PM): FanGraphs has updated their prospect board for the Giants now. Wilson checks in at #7.

They took a look at other team’s needs and came up with a deal that would help other teams a little while helping them a little bit more. The Giants not only signaled they will be clever and opportunistic, they also let other teams know they’re willing to be a Goodwill for bad contracts. They’ve already got one team to take them up on their offer. Can you imagine if anyone else follows suit?