The Giants played an exhibition game late into Monday night and then made a trade afterwards, harming the fragile blogger community that’s trying to rest up before the start of the season. But bloggers don’t own the night — no one does, and Farhan Zaidi never sleeps. Chris Stratton is no longer a Giant, but left-handed reliever and now-former Los Angeles Angel of Anaheim Williams Jerez is, and oh baby, does he have the ability to be optioned, clearing space off the 25-man roster.
Jerez made his major league debut last season and struck out 15 in 15 innings. He also allowed 17 hits, 8 walks, and 10 earned runs in his 17 appearances, which came from August through September. For his minor league career, he’s struck out 322 in 305 innings and has posted a 3.55 ERA. He also started his pro career as an outfielder.
The 26 year old (he turns 27 in May) was drafted by the Red Sox in 2011 (81st overall) as a center fielder — the Giants took Andrew Susac five picks later. The 6’-4” outfielder hit .221 / .254 / .275 in 93 games between rookie and A-ball with 0 home runs and at the end of 2013 the decision was made to convert him to a reliever.
Good call! His fastball averages 95.7 mph and he features a slider and changeup that both hover between 87-88 mph. Again, and I can’t stress this enough, he also has a major league option remaining, which was the entire point of the trade.
The move also makes it even easier for the team to part with Will Smith or Tony Watson or even Travis Bergen, the cheapest of the trio (you can hear the other GMs getting grunting with arousal because of that word) despite carrying the Rule 5 draftee conditions.
Jerez has had a decent spring — a 2.45 ERA with 6 strikeouts in 7.1 innings pitched along with 6 walks and 2 hits allowed — but he figures to just be more depth. Maybe an intriguing option if they can sort out his control problems, but he’s not going to be counted on to make an impact.
Chris Stratton, meanwhile, will always have the first five starts of last season and that time in the second half of 2017 where he looked like he could be a solid back of the rotation contributor for the Giants over the next few seasons. His 2018 was a disaster, but he has one of the best spin-rated curveballs in Major League Baseball, and the Giants were able to parlay that and his 15 strikeouts in 15.2 spring innings into a decent bullpen options.
The Angels always seem to need pitching and Stratton could figure into their fifth rotation spot or as a long reliever. The Giants made a move they needed to make to clear up some of their roster crunch and it’s very possible that maybe, finally, they’ve at last set the Opening Day roster.
Or, maybe not. If you go to the Giants’ website, Connor Joe is listed as an infielder, leaving only three outfielders on the active roster: Steven Duggar, Michael Reed, and Mac Williamson.