The San Francisco Giants have made another trade, acquiring outfielder and first baseman Tyler Austin from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for minor league outfielder Malique Ziegler. The casualty of the trade is Connor Joe, who has been designated for assignment.
The Connor Joe Era is over. He was DFA’d. Tyler Austin was acquired from Minnesota in exchange for OF Malique Ziegler. Austin will be on big league club.— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) April 8, 2019
There are two things to digest here: the moves themselves, and what the moves represent. Let’s start with the first.
In Austin, the Giants are acquiring an outfielder who hasn’t been given much of an opportunity yet in the majors. The 27-year old has shown a lot of promise, but hasn’t been given much of a chance to put things together.
A 13th-round pick by the New York Yankees in 2010, Austin has received just 409 plate appearances in his career. In that time he’s been the very definition of average with the bat. His OPS+ is 100. His wRC+ is 101. He’s been league average.
But he’s certainly flashed moments. In 2018, which he split between the Yankees and Twins, Austin mashed 17 home runs in just 268 plate appearances. To put that in perspective, that number would have led the Giants.
So his power - especially since he’s right-handed - is a breath of fresh air for a team that has just six dingers through nine games.
Austin will likely platoon with Gerardo Parra in left field, as the new guy has rather extreme splits (warning: small sample size). Against righties, Austin is hitting .208/.259/.400, with a 74 OPS+. Against lefties, he’s at a whopping .278/.349/.603 slash line, good for a 149 OPS+.
He can hit (against lefties, at least). He doesn’t walk. He strikes out a lot. But he can hit (against lefties).
It will remain to be seen if Austin will be a notable upgrade from Joe, who struggled but was barely given any opportunities. Joe made his major league debut on opening day, but ended his Giants tenure just 1-15, with one walk. Because Joe was a Rule 5 draftee, he will now return to the Los Angeles Dodgers, giving this move the potential to be a double-whammy in the backfire department.
But it’s a sign that Farhan Zaidi will not be stagnant. With the team struggling to score any runs, Zaidi has now made two in-season trades, less than two weeks into the season. The starting corner outfielders on Day 1 - Joe and Michael Reed - are no more. They combined to go 1-23, and in the words of Duane Kuiper, are outta here.
This is the Zaidi way. Unheralded players who can be had for cheap will be brought in. If they turn into Max Muncy, great. If they don’t, then the line will continue to move as the next player comes into town.
As for what is lost, Ziegler is, not surprisingly, not much. Austin was DFA’d prior to the trade, so it goes without saying that the Giants didn’t have to give up much. Ziegler is only 22, but hit just .235/.327/.372 in Low-A a year ago.